Played by Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch, Fix-It Felix and Sgt. Calhoun were two of the most important supporting characters in 2012's Wreck-It Ralph - but their roles are definitely diminished in the new sequel. While they do appear at both the beginning and end of Ralph Breaks The Internet, they're absent for the majority of the film. This may be upsetting news for those who fell in love with the duo in the first feature, but co-director Phil Johnston recently explained the very simple reason why their parts aren't bigger in the follow-up:
The Felix and Calhoun stuff is truly some of my favorite bits in the movie, but simply because we needed to make a 90 minute film and also stay with Ralph and Vannelope, who are our protagonists, it was just getting to be too long and it was creating too many bumps in the story.
Killing your darlings is hard but necessary work in feature film making, given that it's a medium with limited narrative real estate, and that's the basic story behind what happened to Felix and Calhoun in Ralph Breaks The Internet. Apparently directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore came up with some great stuff for the characters during the storybuilding process at Walt Disney Animation Studios, but when it came to piecing the final movie together it wasn't material that made the finished cut.
I brought up the subject of Felix and Calhoun when I sat down with the two Ralph Breaks The Internet directors earlier this month, curious if there were versions of the movie that featured more of them. After all, there is a perfect set-up established in which the two wedded heroes become parents to all of Vanellope's fellow Sugar Rush racers, who need to be taken care of after their game is unplugged. Rich Moore not only revealed that there was initially going to be more Felix and Calhoun check-ins, but also discussed an early idea for a subplot that would have seen the worlds of the internet and Game Central Station linked together via a specific new character. Said Moore,
We spent more time with Felix and Calhoun during the second act, kind of seeing how they were fairing with the racers as their children. There was, really way back, we had an idea where an anti-viral agent was following Ralph during the quest. And she went back to the arcade thinking that it was a sleeper cell of viruses that were going to attack the internet, and kind of put it under martial law. And we thought, 'Yeah, we can fit this all into 90 minutes. Simple!'
Rather than trying to find some way to weave everything together, the filmmakers ultimately decided that the simpler approach was the better approach. They knew that they had a wonderful pair of protagonists in Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman), and it was decided that their story alone was more than enough material for Ralph Breaks The Internet.
You can watch Phil Johnston and Rich Moore discuss the early ideas for Fix-It Felix and Sgt. Calhoun and why their roles in the movie aren't bigger by clicking play on the video below!
As noted, the good news is that it's not like Felix and Calhoun have been eliminated from the film entirely, and fans will definitely be able to appreciate the roles that they do have in Ralph Breaks The Internet. You can actually witness their return (along with most of the other main Wreck-It Ralph characters) right now, as the sequel is in theaters everywhere.