Before Pacific Rim was shot, screenwriter Travis Beacham created an entire history of his Kaiju-filled Earth. The 12 years leading up to the movie have been illustrated and mapped out in the graphic novel Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero. We got a few exclusive pages that reveal the history behind this monster war — and we found out from Beacham what didn't make the final cut in Guillermo del Toro's movie.
What sort of person can pilot a Jaeger? What are the necessary requirements?
Travis Beacham: It takes a lot. Not only is it really physically demanding, but it's also really intellectually demanding. Because it's your brain that really has to coordinate a lot of these activities. You have to have an exceptional physical stamina and exceptional mental stamina, but you have to have an exceptional connection with somebody else who has all the same skills as you do. To say it's one- or two-in-a-million is an understatement. And in this world this entire infrastructure is centered around finding pilots and putting them in a Jaeger. It's an enormously stressful and grueling selection process.
How do the pilots find their other half? How do they find the pilot that matches up with them?
Ideally, it's somebody that you already know. The way it works is you're connected, you have a hardwired connection, and your brain has this protection mechanism that won't let somebody else's consciousness in. So if it's someone you already know, or are familiar with, or someone you have a passing sense of trust with — if all those markers match up, then you can install the link. Otherwise you're putting total strangers in the pod together and their brains can't sync up.
So if a Kaiju hits the Jaeger's arm, does the pilot feel pain?
Yes. Yes, and it doesn't necessarily have to be like that. But it's kind of necessary for control when you're piloting something this big, you need balance. You need to be able to sense the world around you, you need to be able to get neural feedback. Like when your hand picks up a cup, you can feel the cup in your fingers and you know how to apply enough pressure so you don't crush it. If it was just a numb connection you would have no way to gauge that. The uplink is necessary for that kind of control, but the downside of that is when the Kaiju hit you, you feel it because the sensors are there.
What's the weirdest thing they came up with that they couldn't make work on screen?
The weirdest thing I came up with that I couldn't make work on screen was, initially Rinko Kikuchi's character Mako Mori was going to speak entirely in Japanese for the first half of the movie. And Raleigh [her partner] did not speak Japanese. Then when they finally got their connection calibrated in the Jaeger he would hear her in English. It was a lovely idea, it was a cool idea, but the more that we thought about it the more we realized that it would be a bit of a chore to have the two leads speaking in different languages for the first half of the movie.
Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero is available in comics stores now and in bookstores on June 18th. Here's a little sneak peek!