Give us a sense of the world 10 years after the Kaijus’ previous rampage. Is Earth still picking up the pieces?
There are some coastal cities that never recovered; most of the world has recovered and moved on. There hasn’t been a Kaiju attack in 10 years. The Pan Pacific Defense Corps has used this break in the war to rebuild the Jaeger program from the ground up since all the Jaegers were destroyed at the end of the first movie. That’s where the world is. The planet has come together; they are a united force.
One of the things I wanted to do was continue the narrative forward from what Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham set up in the first movie, where it was an international fighting force. But, in the first movie, you had Chinese pilots operating Chinese Jaegers and Australian pilots operating Australian Jaegers. I wanted to strip all of that away and take the next step in the evolution of the franchise, which is now world Jaegers. The pilots are now intermingled.
How important was it to introduce audiences to some fresh, young blood?
It was very important. Legendary, when they approached me to doing the sequel, they were very keen on broadening the audience. The first one, which again I loved, did well, but a franchise this size needs to do even better. So, part of broadening the audience was the idea that they wanted to bring in along with the older audience, a younger audience and make it appeal to both. There was no real idea on how to approach that. After thinking about it for a while, I thought the most natural way would be to introduce the next generation of Jaeger pilots, the cadets. It made sense to me that the PPDC would start training pilots early, when they are in their early teens, since when you are younger you make stronger emotional connections and friendships, and you haven’t put up all the walls you put up when we get older. It seems to fit the world and, also, made sense that these pilots in training would be called up to go to war. That was the angle I was looking at. You also get the sense there is a passing of the torch in the storyline, where this new generation of pilots is taking over.
What can you tell me about your main character, Jake, and how he fits into the bigger picture?
Jake, played by the amazing John Boyega – we started talking about the son of Stacker Pentecost [portrayed by Idris Elba in the first film]. We were very fortunate to get John, who does a magnificent job of portraying Stacker’s wild child, Jake Pentecost. He went a bit outside the law, has a bit of that Han Solo feel. He’s somebody who was in the Jaeger program many years ago, left under bitter circumstances and is forced to rejoin. He doesn’t really want to be there. He’s the classic reluctant hero. He’s a guy who has never lived up to his potential, who really gets a second chance to step up and make his father proud.
How have the Kaiju evolved since their last appearance?
Much like Jaegers, since its 10 years later, I wanted to advance their design. On the human side, with the Jaegers, they’ve had 10 years to rebuild them from the ground up. On the Kaiju side, since they are biological weapons created by the Precursors on the other side of the breach, it’s a similar idea. They’ve had 10 years to think about what they did wrong the first time around and upgrade their Kaiju. I wanted to take the fantastic design work that Guillermo spearheaded in the first movie and keep pushing that design further. The Kaiju are much more detailed, because the Precursors have had time to work on them. And, there’s the idea that each Kaiju has a special ability.