The upcoming live-action Detective Pikachu adaptation is going for ultra-photorealism, and the director just compared the visual effects to Guardians of the Galaxy and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. So it looks like we’ll finally be able to see what Pikachu’s yellow fur really looks like. But we’ll probably also see some horrifying monsters in great detail as well.
At 2018 Pokemon World Championships, IGN spoke with Detective Pikachu director Rob Letterman said that Pokémon will look “incredibly real,” noting that the same people who worked on Jungle Book and Fantastic Beasts were working on this project.
“You should think of it as the way Rocket Raccoon sits in the movie as if he’s really there. It’s that technology,” Letterman said. “They’re technically some of the most high-end visual effects in the world. It’s completely photorealistic, like they are alive and in the movie.” So this version of Detective Pikachu might look more like Rocket Raccoon than he does Ash’s Pikachu.
Rocket Raccoon isn’t all that terrifying to behold being but a humble, upright Earth raccoon. But the level of realism applied to the character could yield horrifying results if applied to certain Pokémon. Artists have been drawing Pokémon in realistic styles for years now, but Detective Pikachu will mark the first time that we get canonical live-action versions of these Pokémon.
If Mewtwo shows up, for instance, then we’ll be looking at what’s essentially a humanoid dinosaur with three fingers that can hurl balls or energy and shoot laser beams. He’s a flying weapon of mass destruction that’s a fun Legendary Pokémon in the anime and games, but in a live-action environment, he’ll probably look really weird and creepy.
There’s also Lickitung, a chubby pink dinosaur the height of a small child with a tongue long enough to smother anyone or anything. It’s basically a horrifying monster that would give anyone nightmares if put into reality.
Letterman also spoke of a “long process” spent “going through every single Pokémon, different evolutions, and really narrowing down not only the favorites.” He had a slight preference for the Generation I, but Detective Pikachu will supposedly feature monsters from across the various generations. Letterman also spoke of a very practical consideration: “But also, what worked in the story, and from the visual effects teams’ point of view, what would actually work really well for a live-action movie.”
From a very practical standpoint, Detective Pikachu will likely sate fan appetites by having fan-favorite Pokémon like Meowth and Charmander while avoiding creepy ones like Jynx or Muk. But maybe the movie will have at least one really scary one like Charizard?
Pokémon: Detective Pikachu is currently scheduled for release in the United States on May 10, 2019.