So you just watched Pokémon: Detective Pikachu.
The first live-action movie set in the Pokémon world introduced a new city, new characters, and a whole new perspective on Pokémon. The twisty caper and Pokémon-filled romp only loosely follows the game that it’s based on, which means you may still have lingering questions even if you played the game — or if you came into the movie without playing the game, you might be wondering what the heck you just watched.
Never fear though, Polygon’s passionate Pokémon fans are here to help you solve the mystery of Detective Pikachu.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Detective Pikachu]
The “Detective Pikachu is actually Ryan Reynolds” twist makes sense how exactly?
Let’s start with the big question. The very last sequence in Detective Pikachu finds the villain defeated, the city restored to its bustling self, and Tim Goodman (Justice Smith) reunited with his father, who until this moment, was incarcerated in the body of a Pikachu. Ryan Reynolds, who voices “Detective Pikachu,” appears in the final scene in the flesh, revealed as Tim’s estranged father. Thankfully, they’re cool now, having learned a lot on their adorable journey! But, for real, there was a middle-aged man living in Pikachu for 90 minutes.
According to the writers, the twist was always intended to be the coda of the film, a button on the theme of evolution and a warm hug of a final beat to the human story. There also ties to the original Detective Pikachu video game, which the movie lifts more from than you might expect. Screenwriter Benji Samit says that, even though it’s not explicitly stated in the game, it’s heavily implied that, like in the movie, the talking Pikachu at the heart of the game is actually Tim’s dad.
”Where we wanted to take it a step further,” Samit tells Polygon, “was the way it connected it to the overall theme and Howard Clifford’s plan of wanting people to evolve into better versions of themselves, the way Pokemon do.”
What’s the Detective Pikachu game like?
The movie is loosely based on the Detective Pikachu game for Nintendo 3DS. The game also follows a boy named Tim, who is looking for his missing father Harry, and a talking Pikachu, who is a detective. They team up to solve the mystery of rampaging Pokémon, which they learn has been caused by a mysterious drug known as “R.” The bad guy in the game turns out to be Roger Clifford, owner of GNN, instead of Howard Clifford, his father in the movie. There are some other similarities: the Pokemon research lab where the formula is produced; the involvement of a reporter’s assistant named Emilia; Detective Pikachu’s love of coffee; and Mewtwo being used to generate the formula, for instance, but a key difference is that they never find Harry Goodman in the game.
Where did Mewtwo come from?
Within the movie, they mention that Mewtwo, a genetically altered version of the ancient Pokémon Mew, disappeared from the Kanto region 20 years ago (the original Pokémon Red and Blue games came out in the United States roughly 20 years ago). The implication, which the screenwriters confirm to Polygon, is that this is the same Mewtwo from the canon universe. Dr. Ann Laurent hires Detective Harry Goodman to track down Mewtwo. We’re not sure where Harry ends up finding Mewtwo, but there’s a whole big world of Pokémon to pluck from.
And what did the bad guy want?
Though his son appears to be behind the production of “R gas,” Howard Clifford (Bill Nighy) is not the Elon Musk utopia-builder he claims to be. Or maybe he’s extremely Elon Musk? And a little too narcissistic for his own good? To litigate later: the point is, Clifford’s big plan is to transfer his brain into Mewtwo so he’s both mobile and wielding the psychic powers that can meld human and Pokémon. He gets his flesh vehicle, but a fight with Detective Pikachu cuts the catastrophic plan short.
What did the “R gas” do?
The introduction of “R gas” makes perfect sense in the beginning: Pokémon don’t fight in the idyllic Ryme town, but if they sniff a whiff of the purple cloudy stuff, they turn rabid. Later on, when Howard Clifford’s master plan is revealed, the conceit of the gas becomes slightly more convoluted. The gas enables a classic battle moment in the underground arena. But what could have been a third act straight out of 1989’s Batman, turning all the Pokémon in Ryme City evil and ready to rumble using R gas, hinders on an even stranger twist. Apparently Clifford needs to use the gas to rile up the Pokémon and make them more vulnerable to Mewtwo’s melding powers.
What the heck were those giant turtle Pokémon?
The forest that Tim, Lucy, Detective Pikachu, and Psyduck run into ends up being the back of giant, genetically altered Torterra, who’s roughly the size of a mountain.
Torterra is the final evolution of the fourth-generation grass starter Turtwig. In the games, they grow to about seven feet tall and 600 pounds. Torterra, however, is one of the starters that has not received a mega evolution or a Z move, so maybe we will see giant island-size Torterra in an upcoming game title.
What is different about Ryme City?
Founded by Howard Clifford ten years prior to the movie, Ryme City focuses on the partnership between people and Pokémon. Unlike other regions in the Pokémon world, Pokemon work alongside humans and battles are prohibited.
Why is the Pokémon battle arena … like that?
The trailers gave glimpses of a very hardcore looking Pokémon arena. Instead of the glamorous gyms we see in the games or the fancy stadiums of the anime, the battle stages in Detective Pikachu look like they take place in an underground warehouse. The reason for this lies in Ryme City’s attitude toward Pokémon, where battling and fighting is banned. Therefore, those wishing for the adrenaline rush of a Pokemon battle must turn to illegal options.
Do people eat Pokémon?
Many of Pokémon’s most existential questions go unanswered in Detective Pikachu, but considering we see Octillery dishing out raman, let’s just say it would be colossally effed if anyone in Ryme City decided to devour their cuddly friends out of curiosity.