Post-credit scenes (or “stingers” as they’re sometimes called) are a tricky business. They’ve become a bit of a staple in blockbuster filmmaking as a way to tease the audience for a potential sequel even if that sequel may never arrive (still looking forward to seeing Mark Strong as the villain in Green Lantern 2). When they’re done properly, they manage to get audiences feeling excited for the next installment, creating a feedback loop where you like the preceding movie so much that you’re carried away thinking about the next one (Marvel has pretty much been the gold standard at this). But when it’s done poorly, you’re left confused and even a little bitter at what you just saw. Sadly, Pacific Rim Uprising falls into this latter category.
Spoilers ahead for Pacific Rim Uprising.
In the stinger for Pacific Rim Uprising, we see Newt (Charlie Day) strapped to a chair, still possessed by the precursors, the bad aliens who were sending kaiju through the breach. He rants and raves about how next time they’ll win and humans are only delaying the inevitable. Then Jake (John Boyega) comes in the room and tells him that next time, they’re taking the fight to the precursors.
Whoa! What a pitch for Pacific Rim 3! And then you think about it for five seconds and wonder, “Wait, why wasn’t that just the plot for Pacific Rim Uprising?” Perhaps due to budget constraints or just what the story demanded, Uprising is just another kaiju-jaeger beat-em-up, and that’s fine for what it is. At one point, kaijus basically take over jaeger drones, creating weird hybrids that aren’t defeated as much as they’re just shut down (it’s less-than-exhilarating). And then the kaiju do a bit of a Voltron thing, and three separate kaiju combine into one big kaiju that fights four jaegers at once. All of that is fine, but the stinger makes it seem like a retread.
The stinger for Pacific Rim Uprising promises to up the ante, which is what a good stinger should do, but not at the expense of the movie we’ve just viewed. When Nick Fury tells Iron Man he’s not the only super person out there, it’s teeing up The Avengers. But since audiences A) enjoyed Iron Man on its own merits; and B) No one knows what that movie even looks like or how it would be possible back in 2008, it works as a tease rather than diminishing the movie we just saw.
By comparison, I walked out of Uprising not thinking about how cool it would be if jaegers took the fight to the precursors, but why I didn’t just get to watch that movie in the first place. It seems like the natural progression, and if you’re going to have a reboot anyway where you’re not really constrained by what happened in the first movie, then what’s stopping you from making that the plot of Uprising? At the very least, include some tidbit of information in the movie that lets us know it’s possible to take the fight to the precursors when it wasn’t before.
Unfortunately, the stinger feels so tacked on and like an afterthought that the impact is severely undermined by the lack of tight plotting or appreciable stakes. Yes, it would be cool to see the fight go to the precursor world, and if Pacific Rim 3 ever happens, I’ll be interested to see where it goes. It’s just a shame that the pitch comes at the expense of Uprising.