By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Heavy Spoiler Alert
Not everyone from the original films returned to appear in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Two characters we didn’t get to see Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) and the other is the titular Slimer. The former is understandable as the actor retired a long time ago, to take care of his kids when his wife sadly passed. Though they’re older now, and Moranis has done a few voice-over roles, to convince him to appear on screen requires more than being friends with Ryan Reynolds or what Sony / Columbia Pictures can offer.
Regarding why he declined to appear in the 2016 film, “I hope it’s terrific. But it just makes no sense to me. Why would I do just one day of shooting on something I did 30 years ago?” he said to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. His reasoning can apply to this 2020/21 film (delayed due to the pandemic).
To see him come back might be in the cards, if the end-credit is any indication! He’s an accountant, after all. That is, he might be the guy managing Winston Zeddemore’s financial empire and helping with the books so that Ray’s Occult bookstore can stay afloat. Although he’s not in this 2021 film, he might appear when the gang needs him to don the overalls to save the day again, like he did in Ghostbusters 2. It’s a fan theory, and it’s safe to say that we don’t need everyone back right away.
When we last saw Slimer, he was lounging around the old Firehouse. I don’t think this ghost is gone. He either crossed the veil to live a happy new life or joined Egon in his search. The first film did no justice; he was given a raw deal–the films treated him as a pest, and the cartoons made him a member of the team. Of the two appearances in the second film, he aides Louis by driving the bus that’ll take him to the museum.
In Afterlife, Muncher looks almost like Slimer, but only with more arms. I can’t help but wonder if it’s actually Slimer with an upgrade? The Ecto-1 got a few add-ons to make busting ghosts on the run easier. The little remote control trap on wheels is new! This film said Egon took everything he needed away from the Firehouse in his obsessive pursuit of finding where Zuul may return next. That can include the spud too; and doing further experiments–perhaps feeding the green ghost the pink goo–to give him a tougher shell to deal with the threats still to come.
Considering Muncher can chew on physical metals and spit it out like a machine gun, he’s dangerous! He even gets a moment to sort of shine, when Podcast frees him from his cage to eat through another.
The fact Muncher was haunting a warehouse near the old Spengler farm says something. It can’t be random. I suspect he’s been laying around, dormant for some odd reason, until recent events woke him up. After being aroused from a long sleep, he’s hungry and hence started chewing on anything metal he can put his teeth to. He can regurgitate them too to be a shotgun, and take down groups of people should Egon is want him to be a weapon during his his quest.
Afterlife updates the franchise in nice new ways to show how the team can deal with real and paranormal threats. Jason Reitman crafted a story to which his father no doubt approves of, since Ivan was on set, watching his son at work. They’re no doubt part of Ghost Corps, to manage the future of the franchise. While I never fully got into the IDW comics because of the crossovers, I did pay attention to the other material being released.
I can only hope that more narratives in comic book or novel form will still come to bridge the gap between the three decades that took place between the first two films and this third. It’s possible the sequel will build to what Venkhan hoped for–a franchise operation to which he said, “The franchise rights alone will make us rich in our wildest dreams,” in the first film.
It may finally happen with the kids a touch older by the time another film gets made and the original team appearing one more time, mentoring an all new group.