At face value, a second film in the Donnie Darko universe does exist, courtesy of the obscure follow-up S. Darko. However, there are two caveats that prevent it from truly being called a Donnie Darko sequel: the film itself is subtitled as “a Donnie Darko tale,” and writer/director Richard Kelly had nothing to do with it. To get a proper Donnie Darko 2, we’re going to have to wait and see if someone bites at getting that idea off the ground and into production. Which is where the good news starts to kick in, as Avatar mastermind/universe builder James Cameron encouraged Kelly to actually start building his own continuation to that 2001 cult hit.
Richard Kelly has been in the news quite a bit recently, considering his last film released was 2009’s The Box. Though, for no fault of his own, that is partially because of several projects that were once in development falling through due to various circumstances. And as he told The Playlist, part of the business he’s been attending to could very much yield a Donnie Darko 2. This is partly due to James Cameron asking what happened to Jake Gyllenhaal’s Donnie after the film’s chain of fateful events, which kicked off the following story:
I started explaining it all to him, and he pointed at me and said, ‘You should keep working on that.’ … It made me think there was really something big, something epic that could be done. So that’s what I’ve been focusing on.
With a new Blu-ray of Southland Tales in stores now and the 20th anniversary of Donnie Darko approaching, it seems the best time for the enigmatic, but very busy creator to come out of hibernation. And Richard Kelly has been talking up a rather promising universe that he’s been building, one that would rival even the interconnected madness known as comic book franchising. All of which would hinge on the question that started it all: whatever happened to Donnie Darko’s eponymous anti-hero?
Last seen preventing a tumultuous tangent timeline from taking hold in 1988, through the act of self-sacrifice on the other end of a jumbo jet engine, Jake Gyllenhaal’s character died to save his little corner of the world. Through Donnie Darko’s final moments, we see his community mourn his loss, with some hints pointing towards those alternate events having made some sort of impression on the town of Middlesex, Virginia. As Richard Kelly loves to play with alternate identities and twin realities, we could see another version of Gyllenhaal’s moody teenager manifest himself in this reality. Or, in an even wilder twist, Donnie Darko 2 might cross into the realm outside of time and space, thanks to the knowledge imparted to him by Roberta Sparrow.
Shrouded in secrecy, Donnie Darko 2 exists in some form, kept under lock and key by Richard Kelly and awaiting a studio or production company to help it cross over into our world. Until that day comes, if it indeed happens, we’ll all just have to work on our own versions of what could happen. Call it kind of funny, or call it kind of sad, but the result is that thanks to James Cameron’s mini-inquisition, we may get to see the very, very mad world of Donnie Darko yet again.