Get ready for some of the weirdest casting news I've ever heard: Ryan Reynolds will play Pikachu in a new Pokémon movie. Yep, you heard me. Ryan Reynolds, the guy from Deadpool and The Proposal, is going to be playing a small electric mouse, according to a new report from The Hollywood Reporter. And the weirdest part of this whole thing (yeah, it gets weirder) is that Reynolds won't just be saying "Pika pika" as the iconic character has been known to do for decades — he's actually going to talk. We are going to be looking at Pikachu, and Ryan Reynolds' voice will be coming out of it, just talking about the weather or whatever.
Ryan Reynolds will be playing the title role in the upcoming Detective Pikachu, which sounds like a gritty, noir twist on the Pokémon franchise. The franchise has launched 20 movies, a long line of video games and trading cards, and a still-running 20-season anime series, since the first video game was released in 1996. The traditional Pokémon anime and movies follow a young boy named Ash Ketchum who catches and trains powerful creatures called Pokémon while traveling around a fictional world, but Detective Pikachu will inject some more drama into the colorful children's cartoon. Apparently, the new movie will see Ash's father getting kidnapped, forcing the teenager to team up with Pikachu to try to find and save him.
Along with Reynolds as Detective Pikachu (basically the Pikachu we've all seen before, except with a Sherlock Holmes-style cap on), the movie has also cast The Get Down star Justice Smith as its teen protagonist (it hasn't been revealed if his character is named Ash Ketchum or not) and Big Little Lies star Kathryn Newton as a sassy journalist who helps them on their quest. Last year, Nintendo released a Japanese video game called Great Detective Pikachu, which shocked fans by introducing Pikachu's speaking voice.
Detective Pikachu's ability to speak was surprising for Pokémon fans, since the 20-year history of the franchise has established that Pokémon are only able to say their own names and no more (with only a small handful of exceptions, most notably Team Rocket's talking Meowth). Despite the bizarre surprise, the talking Pikachu decision has continued — last month, the latest Pokémon movie Pokémon: I Choose You! premiered to exclamations of extreme confusion when Pikachu began to speak in English at towards the end. Check out the pretty hilarious video of an audience at the screening seeing Pikachu speak for the first time:
But those two earlier examples just had Pikachu speaking in a video game or for a few seconds on the big screen; Detective Pikachu is going to be a whole different story. Not only will Ryan Reynolds be voicing Pikachu throughout the film, but he is reportedly also doing motion capture work for the part. I have no idea what that is going to end up looking like!
Detective Pikachu is still in the early stages of getting going, so there is no release date yet. The most promising part of the new movie, in my opinion, is that the screenplay is being written by Alex Hirsch and Nicole Perlman. Hirsch is the creator of the cult mystery cartoon series Gravity Falls, and Perlman is best known for her work with Marvel, co-writing Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming Captain Marvel. Both of these writers have definitely proven they can deliver smart and silly stories — something Ryan Reynolds is known for as well. The major challenge they are going to have to face is getting a longtime fanbase to see its title character in a drastically new way.