The Pokémon Company is the reason Detective Pikachu has no Pokémon battles

Detective Pikachu is a movie with action, but also a complete lack of the exciting Pokémon battles that the franchise is known for. Suffice to say, that bothered me a little, though others have accurately argued that the Detective Pikachu video game had no battles either. However, we now have a clear explanation for why this movie featured so few battles of any kind — The Pokémon Company wanted it that way.

In talking with PolygonDetective Pikachu director Rob Letterman explained that the Pokémon Company requested that the Pokémon not be in Poké Balls, and that the movie would exist in a region “where humans and Pokémon had a different, elevated relationship where they co-existed. The Pokémon could be human beings’ familiars.” So basically, every time a battle almost breaks out in the movie and then doesn’t, it was the director’s and writers’ way of walking the tightrope act that was set out before them.

Detective Pikachu screenwriter Benji Samit expressed that it was a challenge to work around these limitations and respect the Pokémon Company’s protectiveness of its property:

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.

[irp]

Samit is completely right, and it was a hard pill for me to swallow while watching the movie. However, now that I know the real reasoning behind it, I’m a lot more forgiving. In fact, till now I had assumed the lack of battles was just a way of guaranteeing Detective Pikachu never flirted with PG-13 territory; I’d never assumed that the director and writers just forgot to include the most well-known aspect of the franchise.

What do you make of this development? Do you hope a future Pokémon film contains awesome battles, or do you not care if these films ever have battles?

[Source/Via]

John Friscia
Head Copy Editor for Enthusiast Gaming. I'm a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I really miss living in South Korea.

7 Comments

  1. That’s good. The Detective Pikachu game didn’t feature battles, so why should its film adaptation? I applaud this attention to the source material (i.e. the game).

  2. This is seriously the worst thing you can do in a movie. Just stop. Any person who thinks its a good thing to make a pokemon movie, for the first time ever in live action, without even so much as a pokeball? theres a problem with the writing and you shouldn’t be speaking for real fans.

  3. This is seriously the worst thing you can do in a movie. Just stop. Any person who thinks its a good thing to make a pokemon movie, for the first time ever in live action, without even so much as a pokeball? theres a problem with the writing and you shouldn’t be speaking for real fans.

  4. This is seriously the worst thing you can do in a movie. Just stop. Any person who thinks its a good thing to make a pokemon movie, for the first time ever in live action, without even so much as a pokeball? theres a problem with the writing and you shouldn’t be speaking for real fans.

  5. After seeing this movie for the first time, it’s hard to say if I liked it or not. I’d need to see it again to have that opinion. However, I did think it had some interesting commentary of the series as a whole. That’s a story for another time. The point here is about there being “few battles” in the movie.

    As @MoonlitStones mentions, the Detective Pikachu game did not focus on the battles of the Pokemon world. I have yet to play that game, but I can almost guarantee that it would reference pokemon battles.

    A second point to look at is the fact that in this fictional city of Rhyme, Pokemon battles are ILLEGAL. That does not stop trainers from having underground battles, and brutal unfair battles at that. The underground trainers are basically [SPOILER] using the Pokemon drug to beef up their pokemon on steroids.

    The last point I’m going to make, cause I don’t feel like spending anymore time with this article (sorry it doesn’t seem like you put much time into either) is that there are literally references to pokemon battles everywhere in the movie. There are posters, billboards, and mentions of championship battles and Pokemon A vs Pokemon B. Clearly some thought was put into throwing around the idea of pokemon battles.

  6. “complete lack”
    Um…. Ya may want to recheck your definition of “complete”…
    I mean, if you did in fact actually SEE the movie.
    There was talk of battles, and they featured two as a main plot device. ?

  7. I don’t know why, but actually I wasn’t expecting too much more action than the charizard and greninja bits.

    Pokemon has frequently mixed action with more simple fun, and I would be totally okay for the franchise to move away from combat a little more. It was alright when I was eleven. After more than twenty years of the same, but slightly more complicated formula, I prefer relating to Pokemon in a different way. Now I like the cute and/or funny ones WAY more than the big beasties that cause massive destruction.

    The Let’s go games, Pokemon snap, Hey You Pikachu, the Pokemon stadium mini game where likitung eats too much sushi, that cell phone game about raising magikarp… These are the things that I like about Pokemon right now. That plus the merchandise.

    Haven’t seen the movie yet but I want to.

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