‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’: Why Steven DeKnight is the Perfect Director

Steven DeKnight

Steven DeKnight | Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

The year is 2013. Pacific Rim has just wrapped up its worldwide run at the box office, raking in almost a half-billion dollars. In Hollywood’s biggest foreign market, China, the movie pulls in $100 million. Fast forward to 2016, and we still don’t have a sequel.

Universal instead turned its focus to its other properties, promising to build out a movie monster franchise featuring shared universe movies for the Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Invisible Man. Even with that though, Pacific Rim fans have finally gotten their first bit of good news: A sequel is happening, and even better, the studio has chosen the perfect director for the job.

Guillermo del Toro was, of course, the director and co-writer for the original film, so it’s interesting to see him step aside for Pacific Rim 2. Thankfully, he’s doing so for the sake of an equally talented and eminently qualified replacement (while still remaining on the project as a producer). Steven S. DeKnight will be sitting in the director’s chair, and Universal couldn’t have made a better choice.

But what could possibly soften the blow of del Toro settling for a producer credit? We have some thoughts.

1. DeKnight comes straight out of the Joss Whedon school of filmmaking

Joss Whedon

Joss Whedon | Marvel

Steven DeKnight may be a household name today, but his origins go all the way back to his time as a writer for Joss Whedon-led shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. It’s a school of writing and filmmaking shared by such luminaries as Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods), Jane Espenson (Battlestar Galactica), and Drew Z. Greenberg (Agents of SHIELD).

Whedon has been indirectly responsible for mentoring and launching the careers of sci-fi’s biggest names, and DeKnight is just one member of that elite group.

2. Spartacus proved long ago that he can handle an action franchise

Spartacus - Starz

Spartacus | Starz

While many may recognize DeKnight for his work with Marvel’s debut on Netflix (more on that soon), his true opus as a showrunner came well before that. Spartacus was a series that put all of its creator’s talents on full display. It featured compelling storytelling and characters, well-executed action sequences, and progressive female and LGBT roles that predate the likes of Jessica Jones and The 100 by almost half a decade.

If he can handle a four-season epic about a slave rebellion in ancient Rome on a Starz network budget, imagine what DeKnight can accomplish with Pacific Rim 2. 

3. Netflix’s Daredevil was a master class in action storytelling

Spartacus may have been where DeKnight cut his teeth, but Daredevil is where he truly perfected his craft. As the showrunner for the inaugural season of Marvel’s first Netflix series, he delivered a masterful superhero story that single-handedly changed the game of the genre.

While DeKnight didn’t return for Season 2, it’s safe to say he left a lasting mark on the series in the long run. Additionally, it shows his touch for going beyond the action in a story that’s decidedly action-oriented, something that would add an interesting facet to a Pacific Rim sequel.

4. This will be the first movie DeKnight’s directed … and it’s about time

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim | Universal

DeKnight’s career is filled with writing and running TV shows with a decidedly cinematic feel. From the epic battle sequences in Spartacus to the skillful characterization of Daredevil, he’s long proven himself able to take on a large-scale film project.

It was really only a question of getting him the right one, and Pacific Rim: Uprising gives him a massive opportunity to truly spread his wings as a filmmaker.

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