This week, the second trailer for Detective Pikachu hit the internet, and what was even more bizarre and incredible than the little yellow fuzzball that sounds like Ryan Reynolds was the response online. People are sort of losing their minds over this movie, and while almost none of it makes any sense to me, I am absolutely in love with the enthusiasm. Because while I don’t “get” Pokemon, I have been there with my own beloved characters, so that part makes sense to me.
I know next to nothing about Pokemon at all. I’ve never seen an episode of the animated series. I’ve never played a dedicated Pokemon video game. The closest I’ve ever come is using one of the Pokemon characters in Super Smash Bros. What I’ve picked up about the franchise has largely been through osmosis hanging out with friends who are fans. I was already half way through college when the first Pokemon video game came out in North America and I viewed them (rightly or wrongly) as games meant for younger players. By the time Pokemon became a thing, I was too far behind to get on board that particular train.
The fact that Nintendo tends to release two Pokemon games at once, with different titles, but they’re apparently the same game for the most part, still makes no sense to me.
So when people got absolutely batshit crazy on Twitter for Mewtwo showing up in the trailer for Detective Pikachu, I don’t really get it. I recognize the character, again, only because he showed up in Super Smash Bros. And the scene is pretty cool with the explosions, but beyond that, I don’t really see why this moment was so epic. If you haven’t seen what I’m talking about, check out the new trailer below.
While none of this really makes sense to me, I’ve sort of been caught up in it all because it clearly means a lot to a lot of people. Excitement can be contagious and I’m enjoying a vicarious thrill by watching the people who love Pokemon get hyped for Detective Pikachu.
Part of that, without question, comes from the fact that many of these same people were far from certain that this movie was a good idea in the first place. These fans have been waiting for a live-action Pokemon movie for years, potentially most of their lives, and when it was announced that one was finally happening, it came with the title of a Pokemon spinoff game that, at the time, hadn’t even been released in North America yet. To say fans were skeptical would be an understatement.
And even when the first trailer hit, I didn’t necessarily see a lot of people super excited. Most of the focus was on Ryan Reynolds, not the actual Pokemon. Thankfully, this new trailer has really given us a better idea of just how broad the world of Pokemon is going to be and how many of people's favorite characters will appear, and now a lot of people are on board.
I could easily turn up my nose at Detective Pikachu and decry how these kids are getting excited by this silly video game movie, but not every film needs to be made for me. I am, by some standards anyway, old. I’m outside of the key demographic, and while I’ve been spoiled with so many movies in recent years hitting many of my nostalgia buttons, that’s sort of my point here. Some movies need to belong to other generations, and this one is clearly hitting other people’s nostalgia buttons.
I may have been in college when the first Pokemon game came out, but that was over 20 years ago. Lots of people who never grew up without Pokemon games are now seeing those characters from childhood come to life on the big screen. How awesome is that?
The reason I think I’m getting so excited is that, while I can’t necessarily wrap my head around being so pumped for Pokemon specifically, I can absolutely understand what it’s like to see a movie like Detective Pikachu finally happen.
It’s the way i felt when I was 12 years old and Tim Burton’s Batman was released in theaters. It was the first time I ever made a point to see any movie on opening weekend. I didn’t even realize having to wait in line at a theater was a thing until then. We’ve seen countless Batman movies since then, including at least one that is unquestionably a better movie, but you can’t recreate the magic of seeing a comic book come to life for the very first time.
Then, a year later, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got their first live-action movie. I remember the feeling I had watching the first trailer and seeing these characters that I loved becoming “real” on the screen. It was amazing. I have little doubt that if the internet had existed in 1990, a lot of adults online would have mocked a live-action Ninja Turtles movies mercilessly. Heck, the names of the characters are, without question, quite silly, about as silly as Pokemon.
For whatever reason, we have largely decided as a culture that the film adaptation is the ultimate version of any given pop culture property. Regardless of where it started, your favorite character hasn’t truly made it until the “film version” arrives. For Pokemon, that day is almost here.
And it has to be said, the movie looks pretty good. Ryan Reynolds sounds really funny and while I may not know who all the various Pokemon are or why they’re important, they still look really impressive.
Even if Detective Pikachu turns out to be a fantastic movie, it probably won’t turn me into a serious fan of the franchise. I still won’t pick up a game. I still don’t think they’re for me (even if my age has nothing to do with it). Even if I don’t love the movie, I’m not going to be too bent out of shape too much, especially if others do love it. We all love different things for different reasons. I’ve been given an entire Marvel Cinematic Universe and a modern generation of Star Wars movies. If you love Pokemon as much as I love those things, I hope Detective Pikachu is as great as you want it to be.