The latest film in the long-running Ghostbusters franchise, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” recently hit theaters, and it left some of us with a lot of questions about where the series is going next. (Spoilers ahead for “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”!)
For a beloved series that’s been around since the 80’s and one that made a pretty massive cultural impact between toys, cartoons, video games, comics, and Ecto-Cooler High-C, it’s somewhat baffling that there’s only been two direct sequels (not counting the 2016 reboot and the 2009 Video Game), since the original 1984 classic first blew up in theaters. There’s a few reasons behind this of course, between Bill Murray’s controversial character not holding up super well, Bill Murray himself refusing to come back for a third film, and of course the passing of Harold Ramis, it totally makes sense why we never officially got a “Ghostbusters 3” film in the 90’s (the closest thing in fact is the 2009 Video Game which was actually loosely based off the original script for the third film that never got made, which I highly recommend checking out).
But now with the highly anticipated release of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”, Jason Reitman (the son of the original director, Ivan Reitman) expertly crafted a sequel that miraculously manages to pay homage to the original movies, gives closure to the original crew, introduces a whole cast of new characters, and paves the way for a whole new generation of Ghostbusters films! There’s really never been a better time to be a fan, because the possibilities here are endless…
At the end of ‘Afterlife’, the three remaining Ghostbusters: Ray, Winston, and Venkman show up at the last moment to help stop Gozer once and for all, with the help of the new kids: Phoebe, Trevor, Podcast, and Lucky – and a heartfelt final appearance from Egon Spangler as a force ghost!
We even get a post-credits scene where Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), now a wealthy businessman who we learn even helped to keep Ray’s occult bookshop afloat, returns to the now defunct firehouse from the original movies! We see him reminiscing about the good old days with Ecto-1, and it’s heavily implied that he’s looking to relaunch the franchise in more than one sense! There’s even a cliffhanger with a warning light flashing on the old containment unit!
This was all a clever way to give closure to the original Ghostbusters and really left the door open for a whole new series of movies…
There’s obviously a lot of ways this can go, but I have a feeling that Winston might actually end up being the Nick Fury type mentor to a whole new team of Ghostbusters! While the latest movie was really more about giving closure to the past, this next movie has the opportunity to be a real passing of the torch. I’m assuming we’ll see Phoebe again, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to bring back everyone from ‘Afterlife’, especially if it’s not going to be set in Summerville.
I honestly think one of the smartest things they could do would be to establish a Ghostbusters Academy of some kind, with Winston, Ray, and Janine as the instructors to a whole new set of recruits! Think Hogwarts but with proton packs. The movie writes itself and there’s even an opportunity to bring back more old characters like Kylie Griffin, the goth girl from the ‘Extreme Ghostbusters’ animated series! Maybe we’ll even get to see Janine and Paul Rudd suit up this time around!
And if they pull it off, they could lay the groundwork for dozens of future sequels and spin-offs!
GHOSTBUSTERS: THE CHICAGO BRANCH
The 2009 Video Game ends with “the rookie” heading off to Chicago to start a new Ghost-busting franchise, which was later acknowledged in the IDW comic books! Considering there are Ghostbuster cosplayer groups in nearly every major American city (each with their own unique logos!), it totally make sense for the series to really lean into that. Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Las Vegas, etc
If nothing else, the fact that ‘Afterlife’ wasn’t set in New York, really gave it a unique vibe that set it apart from the other movies, and for its faults, the 2016 movie did actually prove that you can make a Ghostbusters movie without the original cast. Literally anyone can be a Ghostbuster, which is half of the fun of it, so why not just do a series of movies with different Ghostbusters franchises from different parts of the country?
Speaking of a new cast of characters and a change in scenery, I’ve always thought it would be cool to see a series of Ghostbusters movies set abroad! There’s even a “Ghostbusters: International” comic book series by IDW! Seriously, why isn’t this already a thing?!
Sure, they would have to lay the groundwork for it, but just imagine a series of adventures where you have different teams of Ghostbusters around the world investigating paranormal myths and urban legends from various cultures. Gozer was an Ancient Sumerian god, so there’s no reason we can’t have pharaohs rising from the dead in Egypt, a vengeful Aztec Emperor in Mexico, and Ghostbusters taking on Yōkai in Japan!
While there’s no way this is going to be the next movie, I really hope they’re at least considering going this route in the near future. As long as they lay the groundwork, and really do their research, this would be an awesome way to draw in fans from around the world with an increasingly diverse globe-trotting cast!
GHOSTBUSTERS: THE REVENGE OF VIGO
While I don’t want to see this in the next movie, I think the return of Vigo the Carpathian (from Ghostbusters II) is all about inevitable at this point. If they play their cards right, this could be a really cool follow up to one of the greatest villains in cinematic history, but I do think they need to wait a couple movies before they pull that card, it has to be earned, and there’s plenty of room for some original spooks and specters in the meantime!
GHOSTBUSTERS: GO WEST
Another movie that totally writes itself: A team of Ghostbusters in the southwest is called out to investigate strange happenings in an abandoned ghost town from the late 1800’s! Boom, done, take my money.
One of the great things about both the original movie and ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ is the balance of comedy and horror. Horror-comedies are hard to pull off, but when they do work we get classics like ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘An American Werewolf in London’. While most of the Ghostbusters have been more on the comedy side of things, it would be awesome to get a Ghostbusters movie that really leans into the horror aspect of things.
Even if you’re not superstitious, there’s something undeniably creepy about old west ghost towns and abandoned mines out in the middle of the desert. Don’t take my word for it, go check them out yourself and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about! Besides, even “The Real Ghostbusters” animated series had a wild west episode!
GHOSTBUSTERS: IN HELL
The original draft of the unused ‘Ghostbusters 3’ script has often been described as “Ghostbusters In Hell” with the crew being transported to the ghost dimension, which was basically a dark parallel version of Manhattan. While we never saw this come to fruition, there were a few levels in the 2009 Video Game that played with that concept.
In the 2016 movie, the characters are almost sucked into a portal to the ghost realm, and even in the original movie, Ray Stantz tells Gozer: “As a duly designated representative of the City, County and State of New York, I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension.” (man that movie is so freaking quotable)
It goes without saying that there’s a lot of story possibilities here. Hell, they could even use the trans-dimensional plot to crossover with the 2016 Ghostbusters. I don’t know about you, but I would love to see Kate McKinnon’s Holtzmann make a reappearance!
So far all of the Ghostbusters films have toyed with the idea of an impending apocalypse of some kind or another, but it was either a generic end times, or Gozer-related shenanigans. What we haven’t seen so far is the Ghostbusters facing off against the actual Biblical revelations, or better yet the Norse equivalent, Ragnarök! (Que the heavy metal music)
Once again, there’s a lot of potential here: Viking ghosts going berserk, some bonkers nods to Norse mythology, and who knows, maybe there’s even the potential for an MCU multiverse crossover with Loki, the god of mischief himself! (Before you laugh it off, Sony owns Ghostbusters AND has shared ownership over Spider-man with Disney, so anything is possible!)
What do you think? What would you like to see in a future Ghostbusters sequel? Let us know in the comments below!
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is in theaters now!