Despite being a Pokemon film, Detective Pikachu features surprisingly few traditional Pokemon Battles, normally a staple of the long-running franchise. Even more surprising however, is that this was neither a studio mandate nor a choice by the filmmakers, but a request from The Pokemon Company itself.
In an interview with Polygon, Detective Pikachu Director Rob Letterman and Screenwriter Benji Samit discussed some of the guidelines laid down by the Pokemon Company for the film’s production. According to Letterman, the Pokemon Company wanted the film to show a different side of the Pokemon universe, one where humans and Pokemon were really more like partners and less like pets. This meant not just less emphasis on battles, but also less emphasis on Pokemon and even Pokeballs.
Letterman: “Part of [The Pokémon Company’s] concept for Detective Pikachu was to create a new region, Ryme City, that had a new set of rules. The Pokémon Company wanted to have the Pokémon not be in pokeballs. They wanted a region where humans and Pokémon had a different, elevated relationship where they co-existed. The Pokémon could be human beings’ familiars.”
To that, Samit added that writing a script which followed these guidelines was a challenging task. Pokemon battles, trainers and Pokeballs are such integral parts of the franchise that leaving them out just seemed out of the question, even if it was at the request of the franchise’s creator.
Samit: “A lot of the classic elements of a Pokémon story were not really at our disposal. At Ryme City, there are no battles, there are no trainers, there are no Pokeballs. We often thought of it as like writing a Star Wars movie without a lightsaber or the Force or anything like that. The key elements are just not part of this world.”
That said, it looks as if Detective Pikachu still managed to be an enjoyable Pokemon experience despite the limitations imposed on it by the Pokemon Company. Should its success inspire the creation of other live-action Pokemon films, perhaps the Pokemon Company will be willing to let them lean more into the classic elements of the franchise left out of this first attempt.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.