Ghostbusters: Afterlife is good news for fans of the franchise especially since the newest addition to the supernatural comedy film series is going to be a sequel with direct links to the beloved 1984 original. But where do Ghostbusters 2 and Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) fall into all that? Will Afterlife, which is scheduled to be released in November 2021 completely ignore Ghostbusters 2?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a confirmed sequel of both the 1984 original and the less well-received but still enjoyable Ghostbusters II that was released in 1989. Actually, the 2016 film is where things get a bit controversial.
To understand that, we need a short overview of the 2016 Ghostbusters film. For those who haven’t watched it, Ghostbusters: Answer the Call is a reboot of the original, rather than a direct sequel, not only that, but it also became very polarizing.
The film is about four women and their assistant who start a ghost-hunting business. As is the case with the original, the 2016 movie features professional characters who encounter ghosts but are not taken seriously by their superiors so they have to take the situation into their own hands.
Even as the trailer of Ghostbusters: Answer the Call was released, it initiated an internet war of sorts. Sure, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but the backlash was disproportionate to the movie’s quality. This was partly due to the factor of nostalgia, as hardcore fans can be quite adamant that no sequel will ever live up to the original, but let’s be real; even today, everything with an all-female cast will face harsher criticism than usual.
Of course, many viewers' dislike was mostly related to the movie’s differences from the original as a whole, rather than specifically related to the main characters’ gender, or at least so we’d like to hope. In any case, the 2016 movie wasn’t unwatchable and, after all, it didn’t significantly change anything. As a reboot, it paid no heed to continuity, and it was simply one among many Ghostbusters media, not something that came to change the 1984 and 1989 films.
Jason Reitman has stated that the forthcoming 2021 film will ignore the 2016 reboot. Instead, it will focus on two boys and two girls who will form the next generation of Ghostbusters, meaning that Ghostbusters 2 will still be part of the continuity.
Is ignoring the 2016 movie a good thing? On the one hand, if the director wanted to link the new film to the originals, it would have been hard to do so and also take the 2016 film into account, since the latter discarded continuity. On the other, those who hated on Ghostbusters: Answer the Call for all the wrong reasons might take the wrong message out of it; that their complaints have been answered.
These are difficult questions to answer but the release date of Ghostbusters: Afterlife will hopefully reveal whether the artistic choices made for it help the franchise in the long run.