Why Detective Pikachu Doesn’t Star Ash Ketchum

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu in the Anime

After decades of gaming, trading cards, and anime, a live-action Pokemon movie is finally in the works. And while the generations of Pokemon fans are feeling especially nostalgic, there will be one classic figure missing when Pikachu takes center stage, voiced by Ryan Reynolds. And that's Pokemon Trainer Ash Ketchum, who is the star of the very popular and still running cartoon series. Ash and Pikachu are inseparable, but Detective Pikachu will star Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) as Pikachu's trainer Tim. Director Rob Letterman recently spoke to this choice, revealing the thought behind pivoting to a new human character in this story.

The Pokemon Company, they've already made many, many movies of Ash, and they came to Legendary with this idea of using a new character. So when I came onboard, I was pitched this character of Detective Pikachu, and I fell in love with the story behind it. It's a really great story. It was something with a lot of heart, and it was just very unique. And because there's already been so much work done with Ash, for the first live-action movie I thought it was a really good idea to try something new with a new character, but bake it into the universe of Pokemon. So it still follows all the rules, and we get to see a lot of our favorite things.

Well, that certainly clears things up. While some Pokemon fans are going to be sad that Pallet Town's favorite hero isn't going to translated into live-action alongside his Pokemon partner, Detective Pikachu will offer something brand new to the fandom. Pikachu is already going to talk, so it's clear that the upcoming blockbuster is playing by its own set of rules.

Rob Letterman's comments come from his appearance Pokemon World Championships (via IGN), and will likely help answers some of the many questions currently surrounding Detective Pikachu. Legendary pictures and everyone involved has been keeping their cards close to the chest. The movie has already done its primary filming, and is currently in post-production. This likely includes plenty of voice work for Ryan Reynolds, who wasn't on set with Justice Smith and the rest of the Detective Pikachu cast.

Detective Pikachu will mark the first live-action Pokemon movie, something decades in the making. While there have been a whopping 21 animated Pokemon movies made throughout the years-- usually 3-4 to go with each generation of the popular video game. But the iconic monsters have never been translated into live-action, so it will be a highly anticipated event to see Pikachu in the real world, and battling alongside favorites like Charizard or Squirtle.

We'll get to see all of the Pokemon in the flesh when Detective Pikachu arrives in theaters on May 10, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.