Warning: SPOILERS for Jumanji: The Next Level are ahead!
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a surprise success two years ago that brought in just short of a billion dollars at the global box office. The sequel was quickly greenlit and now Jumanji: The Next Level is off to an even better start, already accumulating $216 million in global ticket sales. While we still have to wait and see how the new movie holds up against Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it seems like the franchise has another hit on its hands, and that probably means we'll be getting a fourth Jumanji movie before too long.
The box office isn't the only reason to expect another Jumanji movie. Jumanji: The Next Level itself gave us a little tease of a potential next movie, and it was perfect. Because if the Jumanji franchise is going where I think it's going based on that mid-credits scene, the franchise might be ready to get some new life.
Overall, I enjoyed Jumanji: The Next Level, but it was largely the same movie we saw last time around. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a fresh take on the material that found an interesting to way to play with video game mechanics to create fun characters and exciting action. It was new then, but it's not now, so The Next Level was just more of the same. It was good stuff, to be sure, but there's a point of diminishing returns.
How Jumanji: The Next Level Ended
Which is why I really kind of enjoyed the way that Jumanji: The Next Level wrapped up. For those of you who don't mind spoilers or just need a refresher, at the end of the movie, we see an HVAC repairperson go down into the basement of young Spencer's house where the busted up, but still vaguely working Jumanji game console is sitting. The repair dude sees it, mentions that he loves old video games and gets closer in order to investigate. He reaches to touch it, which we know is a bad move.
We then hear those familiar Jumanji drums that start playing as our four real world heroes are exiting the diner where they've bean eating. A flock of ostriches run by them that we recall from earlier in the movie. It seems that, once again, the world of Jumanji has joined the real world.
Bring Jumanji Back To The Beginning
This is a great idea: make the story new by going back to the beginning, as in the actual beginning of the Jumanji franchise. The first Jumanji with Robin Williams was all about the world of the game invading the real world, and so by going in that direction, Jumanji 4 can do something which fits within the existing lore, but also feels new because it hasn't been done with these characters in this part of the world.
It will also give the real world characters a chance to shine in a Jumanji movie if they get to actually be in an entire film. The real world side of Jumanji was given a bit more time to breathe in The Next Level, with the character of Bethany being left out of the game at first. It would be nice to see what these young actors can do if they have more time on screen in a future film.
It also changes the stakes again to put them all on their back foot. Within the world of the movie, the young people have become comfortable as their game avatars; it's a very fresh take to see them deal with Jumanji on their own.
And then, of course, on the flip side, if you're going to let the real wold kids be themselves in the new movie, then you need to create all new personalities for the other set of characters. Just because the new movie should take place in the real world doesn't mean that the game avatar characters shouldn't be there too.
Along with whatever animals, environments, etc. that enter the real world, the game avatar characters, like Ruby Roundhouse and Dr. Smolder Bravestone, should also make the trip across. Of course, they won't be inhabited by somebody "playing" them this time, so they'll simply have whatever video game personality they were created to have in the first place.
Dwayne Johnson And Company Can Play "Themselves."
Seeing actors like Dwayne Johnson play their roles with different personalities has been one of the joys of these films. And so, if we go this route, they'll all play new characters all over again, keeping that theme going, but this time we'll get to see who they "really" are.
To some extent, this means playing more to type, rather than less, which has been the ongoing joke, but there's still fun to be had. Seeing these video game avatars interacting in the real world will still give the whole thing a 'fish out of water' feel, just in a different direction than the previous films.
Alternatively, we could amplify the personalities up to 11. Each of the in-game characters could play as their archetype game character to the point of parody. Just because we're changing things up it doesn't mean it can't all still be funny.
Even if we see these characters playing roles that are similar to what we've seen from them in the past, it would be new for the Jumanji movies, and that's novel enough at this point. We've seen Dwayne Johnson play a nervous nerdy kid and a confused old man, and while there are certainly other directions the character can go, it feels like this idea has run its course.
Together, the real world kids and the video game avatars can work together to complete whatever McGuffin hunt the plot requires. It hardly matters. The quest isn't really what makes these movies any good.
The world doesn't need another Jumanji movie; we'll all survive without one. However, it seems like a pretty solid bet that we'll be getting one unless The Next Level's box office completely tanks, and if the sequel does half as well as the original, that won't be happening. So if we're getting the movie anyway, let's change things up a bit so that Jumanji 4 feels a bit fresh, even if it is just a slightly different take on where it all started.
One final thing Jumanji 4 needs, by the way, is more Rhys Darby. No real reason. Rhys Darby is funny and should be in more movies.
Let us know your thoughts on Jumanji: The Next Level and share what you'd like to see from Jumanji 4 in the comments below.