When “Wreck-It Ralph” was released, it used video games as a vehicle for a heart-warming tale about trying to fit in and find your place in the world. It had some A-list gaming villains make a cameo at the beginning, such as Dr. Eggman from the “Sonic” franchise and Bowser from the “Mario” franchise, but for the most part, the movie centered around original games inspired by existing games like “Call of Duty” and “Donkey Kong.”
The majority of the movie took place in one game, “Sugar Rush,” and it was a critical and commercial success, showing the movie’s premise could be a stepping-stone for potential sequels. Well, as you probably know by now, the movie’s first sequel isn’t about exploring video games — it’s about surfing the web.
The trailers give hope that “Ralph Breaks The Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2” will be an entertaining movie, but they don’t explain why protagonists Ralph and Vanellope need to be on this adventure. Will the duo have an actual purpose in this movie, or will they be used as an excuse for Disney to make a movie about what’s essentially free advertising for successful companies (including Disney itself)?
All Fun ‘n Games?
It’s understandable that “Wreck-It Ralph” didn’t have Ralph hopping between the Mushroom Kingdom, Green Hill Zone and the arenas of “Mortal Kombat”: Getting all the licensing necessary was probably too costly, especially for an original IP. However, after the success of the original, you would expect that the sequel would expand on the video game premise with a larger checkbook.
Gaming hasn’t become any less popular and the focus on arcade games limited the first film. The sequel could’ve been about Ralph and Vanellope going on an adventure in an open-world game (or various ones, since traveling between IPs seems to be in the spirit of “Wreck-It Ralph”) and exploring the tropes found in that genre.
Even if “Wreck-It Ralph 2” had to use the internet angle, it could have used online gaming as the landscape for the movie. Surely seeing the lovable duo in an MMO-landscape would be both entertaining and hilarious. Just imagine all the mom jokes made by 14-year-olds!
Gaming aside, “Wreck-It Ralph 2” has another reason to make audiences nervous — Disney’s recent track record with sequels.
First Time’s The Charm?
Disney has undeniably made some classics, but their sequels are often hit or miss. While fans all over the world love “Mulan,” you’ll have trouble finding similar appreciation for the sequel.
“The Lion King” might be a modern institution, but no one talks about its sequels (though “The Lion King 1 & ½” is funny enough to justify its existence). There are more examples, but you get the picture.
Maybe I’m just being dramatic. After all, the entire “Toy Story” trilogy is very solid, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think “The Incredibles 2” looked very promising. However, this decade has seen more instances of Disney sequels dropping the ball than hitting it out of the park.
I’ll start with “Cars 2.” Yes, I know people like to forget this exists, but this movie proves Disney will always prioritize profit. When Disney found out talking cars sell themselves, they realized “Cars 2” didn’t need to have the heart of the first one and just made a movie about Mater getting into espionage hijinks. “Cars 3” attempts to rectify the sins of “Cars 2,” and mostly succeeds, though it’s basically a reskin of the first movie.
Fast forward a bit to “Monsters University,” which, while nowhere near “Cars 2” level, still didn’t really need to exist. If someone had asked me whether I wanted to hear about Mike and Sully’s college days or what they did after “Monster Inc.,” I would’ve chosen the latter.
Then “Finding Dory” came along just to make a point that a prequel can sometimes be better than a sequel, because that movie didn’t feel like it needed to happen either (it wasn’t a bad movie though, so don’t @ me). These sequels raise an important question for “Wreck-It Ralph 2.”
What’s The Point?
I find Princess Vanellope the most adorable of all the Disney Princesses, and possibly the most adorable cartoon character ever created, so I’m not against her being in another movie.
What I am against, however, is her being in a movie that seems to be a blatant cash-grab.
While the first official trailer for “Wreck-It Ralph” showed off Bowser, Kano, Eggman and other famous villains, it still hinted at the story to be told in the movie. Ralph grows tired of being the bad guy and wants to be loved and respected by those around him.
The trailer even clues the audience in on the stakes when some of the characters show concern for Ralph’s absence from the game. The movie followed the spirit of the trailer and relied on its message and the bond between Ralph and Vanellope to carry the movie, with the video game references coming second.
If the “Wreck-It Ralph 2” movie follows the spirit of its trailer, then it will probably end exploiting the good names of Ralph and Vanellope in the name of getting butts in seats. It makes me sad — these original characters deserve better treatment from their studio.