Here's a nerdy little info nugget to throw out to your friends when watching Pacific Rim this weekend: those giant robots (or Jaegers) were actually first inspired by a kid playing with action figures. One of the more admirable things about Pacific Rim is that it's not an origin story even though it's the first time we're being introduced to these characters. Instead, the film's origin story is told right up front in an opening prologue that explains everything that's already happened. How monsters rose from the ocean and destroyed our cities, and how in order to defeat them we had to come up with a better plan and more badass technology.
Eventually we created the Jaeger, a giant mechanized suit operated by two pilots whose minds are synched up so that they can function (and subsequently fight) as one person. But where did we first get the idea for the Jaeger? The film doesn't say, and you'll only be able to find those answers inside the pages of the film's prequel comic, a sprawling 112-page story written by Pacific Rim screenwriter Travis Beacham that tells you what happened prior to the events of the movie. Essentially, this is the Pacific Rim origin story.
Our friends at Film School Rejects did a great job pulling out some scenes from the prequel comic that directly relate to plot points in the movie, for those interested. One of our favorites is the moment a Dr. Jasper Schoenfeld explains to a reporter that the origin of the Jaeger suit came directly from his son, who was playing a game of robots vs. monsters with his action figures when a lightbulb went off in the doctor's head. "And suddenly I realized... we already had the answer," he explains.
What's great about this scenario is that it plays directly to the emotions the film evokes while you're watching it. As I said in an earlier piece, "...when it comes to those fights Pacific Rim delivers like gangbusters. They're outrageously badass, and crafted as if they were ripped straight from the fantasies of an action figure-obsessed kid; the sort who'd hole up in his room for an afternoon with a mix of toys from various movies and combine them to form the ultimate action extravaganza -- one where a giant robot can pick up an ocean liner and smash it across the face of a ferocious monster."
It's like Beachem created this dorky circle where playing with action figures inspired a movie about what it'd look like if those action figures were real and fighting one another, a concept which itself was inspired by a boy playing with his own action figures. The idea inspired a movie where the characters in the movie were inspired by the same idea.
Does that make sense?
Anyway, we want to go play with some action figures now.