Pacific Rim Uprising's new generation of Jaeger Pilots have touched down at New York Comic Con. Director Steven S. DeKnight joined stars John Boyega, who plays Stacker Pentecost's son Jake; Scott Eastwood, who appears as Jake's rival Lambert; Burn Gorman, who will reprise his role as Dr. Hermann Gottlieb; and Cailee Spaeny, who plays Jaeger hacker Amara; on stage at the Madison Square Garden during Legendary's presentation for its upcoming Pacific Rim sequel.
DeKnight entered the stage wearing faux military dress clothes. "I grew up watching Ultra Man... and Godzilla movies... to get a chance to play in the world that Guillermo Del Toro so expertly created... has been a thrill," he shared.
"You can make a difference. You can actually be a hero. It's the human inside the Jaeger that's a hero," he said.
DeKnight explained that it had been 10 years since the prior movie, which means Jaegers have been streamlined and perfected. He described Bracer Pheonix as the "brute force" of the new team. "It's a three-pilot rig," he explained. The third pilot can drop into the chest of the Jaeger and deploy a "Vortex gun."
"She has a pair of plasma swords that she used," he said of Saber Athena. Titan Redeemer uses "the ball of death," attached to the end of its arm. Guardian Bravo is "another brute force Jaeger," which has "a really cool weapon" that he uses to "smack the hell" out of some Jaegers. A Jaeger named Scrapper will also be introduced.
Boyega says the film intends to "expand" on what Del Toro created, not to rewrite it. "Basically, what I wanted to see... we've been able to implement." He added that he thinks fan will see this in the upcoming trailer.
"It was definitely something I hadn't imagined," he said of playing Stacker Pentecost's son. "Filling in those shoes is definitely a responsibility... this is also a great ensemble piece... We're very excited to show you... I believe it's everything you want to be Pacific Rim moving forward."
"The greatest heroes... it takes a tussle and a turn for Jake to accept his responsibility," he continued. "He's brought back in a very, very unique way... he's drawn into this adventure." Once he's in this adventure, he realizes he must "step up."
Eastwood weighed in on his character, Lambert. "He's the tip of the spear. He's a pilot. He's one of the best, but he's nothing really without his best friend Jake. They've got some issues in this one to work out from the past, which I really liked," he shared. "Being a friend with someone who's dealing with coming back around."
"I would say that this film stands alone," he said of the film. "It was DeKnight's vision for it. It was digging deeper into the story... The great thing about this movie is that it has a great story first and foremost."
As to her character Amara, Spaeny said, "Obviously, the attack has affected all of the characters... her family were all killed from the first attack... She's taken it upon herself to dive into the Jaeger tech." According to Spaeny, Amara believes the Jaegers are coming back and will do anything it takes to prepare for that.
"It's not only my first film but we're also diving into tons of stunts and tons of action," she explained. "A lot of research went into this, because I really wanted to know all the things that went behind the Jaeger science. It's a whole world that's been created... I came in with so many people who were very prepared and excited about it."
Gorman offered an update on his character Gottlieb. "Well, let's just say he hasn't changed his socks since the last film... still problems with personal hygiene," Gorman joked. He revealed that Gottlieb is now a head scientist and has a much bigger budget than in the first film. Gorman called Gottlieb "a man very much affected by what happened in the first movie," due to his rift with the Kaiju. "You've got a big budget, you've got an emotional backstory... I'm just so excited for you guys to see it."
"Honestly, it was effortless. Charlie [Day] is the consummate professional... but we had good fun!" Gorman said of co-star Charlie Day. "We had fun! There are great differences in their relationships... but it was just like being back in the playground, really."
The moderator then cued the new trailer from the upcoming movie.
As to the changes Gottlieb has gone through in the 10 years since the first film, Gorman said, "He's got access to a lot more funding, and I think it's okay to say that Newt and Herman are... it's not that they don't work together anymore, but it's that Newt is working in the private sector now and I'm not."
"Guillermo [Del Toro] set the table, and it was a fantastic visual feat, and we wanted to honor what he had created" while also creating something new, according to DeKnight. "There are references to the first movie and what happened in the first movie... So we really wanted to honor the first movie, while pushing things forward, and jumping 10 years in the future gave us room to do that."
"The young teenagers in this film is also really exciting, too... It's super-relatable... It's this new wave of pilots, but they're super young," Spaeny shared.
Asked if all the new Jaegers are analogue, DeKnight joked, "We have built one Jaeger out of sticks, so the Jaegers have no change of EMPing that bastard."
The moderator then pulled up a video message from Charlie Day, who will return as Dr. Newton Geiszler in the film. Day showed off a few songs he personally created for the movie and pitched a sitcom featuring Newt and Herman. "Giant lizard, you are not welcome here," he sang as he played the piano. As for the opening number, he suggested, "Charlie Day, Charlie Day, and the rest of the cast... even the guy from Star Wars!"
Debuting in theaters on March 23, 2018, Pacific Rim Uprising is a production of Legendary Pictures directed by Steven S. DeKnight and starring John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman.