How Detective Pikachu May Set The Stage For Major Pokemon Character Ash Ketchum

Ash Ketchum and Pikachu in Pokemon: The First Movie

Warning! The following contains spoilers for Detective Pikachu. Read at your own risk!

Detective Pikachu is a great movie, and a wonderful nostalgia trip for those who were a part of Pokemon's original run 20-plus years ago - but there are bits of the film where older fans may have been a bit out of the loop. Those only familiar with the franchise up to the 151st Pokemon may have missed some of the deep cut references to successive games, not to mention been unfamiliar with some of the new species that are prominently featured. It still makes for a fun time at the cineplex, but imagine if there was a movie that focused on the Pokemon of the late 1990s.

Not to get anyone's hopes too high, but there's a possibility something like that could happen now that the new film is a hit. You may have missed it, but Detective Pikachu has a very subtle reference to past stories that very well could tie the movie into the anime world of Pokemon and the franchise's most famous human character. To spell it all out, below you'll find the details behind the reference that some may have missed, and an exploration into how it may set the stage for a popular figure who didn't appear in the film: Ash Ketchum.

Mewtwo Detective Pikachu

Detective Pikachu's Reference To The Pokemon Anime And Pokemon: The First Movie

Detective Pikachu does a lot to establish Rhyme City as a part of the greater Pokemon universe, and surprisingly added a bit that may tie in the movie with the actual canon of the Pokemon anime and Pokemon: The First Movie. The moment comes when Tim, Pikachu, Lucy, and Psyduck explore Clifford Industries' lab, and learn more about the mysterious origins of the Pokemon, Mewtwo.

In a bit of dialogue, it's revealed that Clifford Industries managed to catch Mewtwo after it escaped the Kanto region 20 years ago. In the Pokemon anime, Mewtwo was in the possession of Viridian City Gym Leader and leader of the Team Rocket syndicate Giovanni, who operates in the Kanto region. Giovanni used Mewtwo (who was subdued with electronics) to defeat Ash's rival Gary in a gym battle. Mewtwo escaped shortly after that, which became the basis for Pokemon: The First Movie.

What makes this reference all the more interesting is the revelation that it happened 20 years ago, which is essentially how long it's been since Pokemon: The First Movie was released in theaters. It could be a coincidence, but there's something really intentional about that time frame that seems to show Detective Pikachu is wanting to align itself with the show's original canon.

Detective Pikachu

Why Didn't Detective Pikachu Reference Ash Ketchum Then?

If researchers knew of Mewtwo's escape, then why didn't they know about Ash, Misty, Brock, or Team Rocket? Better yet, considering Tim believed he was going up against one of the strongest Pokemon in existence, why didn't he ring up one of the world's most prolific Pokemon trainers for some advice on how to bring him down?

There's actually a rather simple explanation for this: Ash Ketchum and his friends don't remember their encounter with Mewtwo. The powerful psychic Pokemon ended up wiping everyone's memory following the climax of Pokemon: The First Movie, and the characters resumed their lives as though nothing had ever happened. So, if Ash saw the news about Mewtwo in Rhyme City, he was probably just as shocked and as oblivious as anyone else who may have seen it.

While Mewtwo doesn't make any reference to Ash in Detective Pikachu, there are parts that imply he lived through the events of Pokemon: The First Movie. For example, he seemed far less ruthless and more forgiving of human kind in Detective Pikachu, whereas the version featured pre-Pokemon: The First Movie would've turned all the humans he encountered to stone really quickly. Fortunately, he only had to turn Ash to stone that one time to figure out it was a terrible idea he should never replicate.

Ash Ketchum Pokemon

Where Is Ash Ketchum In The Detective Pikachu World?

Ash was a little older than 10 when he faced off against Mewtwo, which would make him around 30 years old when the events of Detective Pikachu go down. Like most cartoon characters, Ash is basically ageless in the Pokemon anime, but while that would be an absolutely riveting plot point to tackle in a Detective Pikachu sequel, it feels more likely he would show up as an seasoned Pokemon Trainer played by an adult actor.

Ash travels around a lot, and he's gotten into some crazy situations. If Tim managed to run into Ash in the midst of some big mystery it wouldn't be the least bit surprising, and the two might even join forces. Of course, the question is, is there really a need for Detective Pikachu 2?

It would appear that Tim's issues are largely resolved with his father back in his life. Tim could still have some adventures with his dad and a non-speaking Pikachu sidekick, but that doesn't sound nearly as cool as the general premise. Ash Ketchum would certainly sweeten the deal, but maybe not enough that audiences would sign on for another Detective Pikachu where Ryan Reynolds isn't the voice of the yellow mouse.

Pokemon: The First Movie Mew Mewtwo

Will Detective Pikachu Lead To A 90s Pokemon Film?

Detective Pikachu's mention of Mewtwo's origins could be the link needed for the franchise to take a trip back in time, making a movie that could potentially use Ash Ketchum as a way of telling the origin story of Mewtwo once again. Yes, it would essentially be a live-action remake of Pokemon: The First Movie, but could be completely different than the film with which American audiences are familiar.

For those that aren't aware, the story differences between the Japanese and American versions of that Pokemon movie are substantial. In fact, it's fair to say they're basically entirely separate movies, as the American version of Pokemon: The Movie was heavily edited and had its script changed to cater to American audiences. Had they stuck with the original, Americans could've had a deeply nuanced story about Mewtwo, his existential crisis, and a movie that honestly made the diminutive Mew seem like the true villain.

It's a story far better than what the American version of Pokemon: The First Movie delivered, which essentially stated that fighting is wrong in a franchise where the world's entire economy revolves around fighting. Now, Detective Pikachu has presented an opportunity to tell that story right if it wants to, and the company could retcon a very bad Pokemon feature and give America its first live-action Ash Ketchum in the process. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Should Ash Ketchum appear in the next Pokemon movie? Is remaking Pokemon: The First Movie a good idea? Sound off in the comments below, and be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for all updates regarding movies, television, and pop culture.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick contains multitudes and balances his time reporting on big happenings in the world of Star Trek, the WWE, reality television, and other sci-fi shows.