The verdict is in: Detective Pikachu has gained some polarised opinions following the release of the trailer. Who knew that Pikachu and Clefairy were covered in fur – though would being made out of a skin-like substance be any better? A live-action Pokémon film has almost been inevitable since the franchise debuted in 1995. Fans across social media have spelled out how excited they are for the live-action Pokémon release.

Some have worried that the Pokémon they know and love will be different now that Pikachu actually has a voice (and it happens to be Deadpool himself, Ryan Reynolds). Overall, however, audiences seem excited by the prospect that bringing Pokémon into our world heralds – much like Pokémon Go did by having the critters pop out of well-known landmarks and even our local gyms and churches. But what does it entail, and where does it leave our beloved franchise?

What Next for Pokémon?

For many franchises, a live-action film is the start of a cavalcade of merchandise and branded tie-ins. But Pokémon already has a cache of these – from trading cards to games, to manga and anime series, to more games, to the biggest mobile event with Pokémon Go. But, there are still some avenues Pokémon is yet to explore. There hasn’t yet been a huge-scale ‘Pokémon World’ style experience, much like the Harry Potter set tours and the Friends-fests, which bring replicas of the apartment and Central Perk to fans. There also hasn’t been any spin-off games that switch up the gameplay. Marvel’s film popularity led to a series of online slots games that joined the ranks of other popular slot game themes, including fantasy and fruit slots, so perhaps Pokémon will follow with some branded thematic slots games or a Pikachu-themed poker game. The film opens the realms of possibilities for the next step in Pokémon gaming.     

Pokémon for a New Generation

If you crunch the numbers, those who were playing Pokémon in 1995 will likely be fully grown, so a new batch of Pokémon trainers need to connect with the franchise. Following some shaky generations with some questionable Pokémon (the one that is a bunch of keys and the one that is just a series of ice cream cones, for example), the developers of the franchise have gone back to the drawing board. The releases of Lets Go Pikachu and Lets Go Eevee are bids to go back to what Pokémon once was by appealing to new would-be Pokémon trainers. Not that fans might not enjoy the games, but they are marketed at new entrants to the franchise. The release of a film that features something never seen before in Pokémon also smells of appealing to those who aren’t already fans. Whether this reinvigorates the franchise or not, only time will tell.  

Detective Pikachu is set to be released in summer 2019 and will no doubt release more snippets of the film and teasers in the build-up to the release. While social media is abuzz with analysis, the films provide something for everyone – from those who have followed Pokémon since its inception, to those who have just started playing with Lets Go Pikachu.