Why Any 'Ghostbusters' Sequels Shouldn't Include Zuul
Paul Feig's Ghostbusters reboot features plenty of callbacks to the original 1984 movie and its sequel, with Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and Bill Murray all making funny cameos. But the most fun throwback, and the most eerie, comes in the form of a (spoiler alert!) post-credits scene that invokes one very familiar name: Zuul. The creepy inclusion suggests that any upcoming Ghostbusters sequel could revisit the infamous villain, and while that possibility might have some fans of the original movies excited, I'm not as thrilled. Rehashing an old conflict and dragging out a bad guy from the original movie would be a bad idea, in my opinion, as not only would it be repetitious, it would make the movie boring if audiences already know who, or what, is coming to stir up trouble.
If you saw that Ghostbusters post-credits scene and had no idea what was going on, here's a refresher: In original 1984 Ghostbusters, Sigourney Weaver's character Dana is spooked by a dog-like demon living in another dimension within her refrigerator. Zuul, as it is named, turns out to be the Gatekeeper of Gozer the Destructor, a powerful, other-worldly being out to destroy the world. Zuul and its counterpart demon, Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster, take over the bodies of Dana and her neighbor Louis, and help usher Gozer through a multi-dimensional portal to wreak havoc upon the Ghostbusters and New York City.
In the new movie's post-credits scene, Leslie Jones' Patty is listening to an audio recording of what we can only assume are ghostly, spooky sounds. She stops the tape suddenly, and turns to her partners asking, "What's Zuul?" It's a fun toss back to the original film, and became another of the movie's truly creepy moments. I felt a shiver run down my spine as the screen went black, but once the spookiness had subsided, a realization hit me: I really don't want or need to revisit Zuul, or Gozer, or anything that happened in either of the original films. If Zuul or Gozer is the villain in any upcoming Ghostbusters sequel, the repetition and rehashing of old stories would be a huge bummer, at least for me.
While the numerous cameos in Ghostbusters were fun, they became, in my eyes, a little repetitive by the end. It felt at times like audience members were just waiting around for each successive familiar face, and those parts are when the movie stalled the most for me. The cameos and throwbacks were fun, but they took me out of the action, and broke the "realism" of what was going on in the plot. So I fear that a Ghostbusters sequel bringing back Zuul or Gozer as the main villain would make the entire movie feel that way: repetitious, old news, and moving backwards.
Other reboots have tried the same tactic to some pretty murky results. Star Trek Into Darkness spent a good long while trying to convince its audience that Benedict Cumberbatch was not playing famous villain Khan, but once he revealed himself in the movie as that very character, audiences then knew exactly where the movie was going to go. If you've seen The Wrath of Khan , you knew the beats and plot twists to expect, and the minor changes Into Darkness made didn't negate the fact that, in that regard, the movie simply became a rehash of a movie that already existed. More recently, the same villains from 1996's Independence Day were revisited in this year's Independence Day: Resurgence, and perhaps the movie's poor reviews were due in part to the fact that the aliens felt too familiar. Meanwhile, villains are often revisited in comic book films, but their serial nature helps it work better than in regular movies. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 tried it with the Green Goblin, but that didn't work as well as, say, the Joker in The Dark Knight or potentially in the upcoming Suicide Squad.
Using Zuul in a Ghostbusters sequel would make the new reboots feel stuck in the past, when they should really be anything but. Moving forward is the name of this game, and in a franchise that's starting off so progressively by featuring an all-female cast, it would be a great disservice to the whole project were filmmakers to go backwards in search of conflicts, plotlines or villains. I want no Zuul, yes, but I also want no snarky EPA official, no sexually harassing museum co-worker, and no evil 16th-century tyrant trapped in a painting. There's no reason why, after this first movie, Ghosbusters should allude to the originals any longer; instead, they should forge ahead, create new legacies, and introduce new bad guys. They've made new heroes, so why go back? From this point, there's nowhere to go but forward.
Images: Columbia Pictures, Giphy, Sony