‘Ghostbusters’ Sequel May Bring Another OG Character Back From the Dead

in Movies & TV

Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, and McKenna Grace looking at old footage in 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'

Credit: Sony Pictures

The Ghostbusters franchise is obviously no stranger to ghosts. But aside from all the bizarre paranormal entities that populate the films, from horned deities living in refrigerators to anthropomorphic marshmallow sailors on Columbus Circle, there have rarely been proper human ghosts, more so long-standing characters who have passed away in the films.

That all changed when Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) came along, which became the first film in the series not to feature beloved star Harold Ramis, who sadly passed away in 2014. So the filmmakers decided to kill off his character, Egon Spengler, from the offset and write the story as a love letter to Ramis and the original Ghostbusters (1984).

(L to R) Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in Ghostbusters 1984
Credit: Sony Pictures

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As such, Egon Spengler is concealed in the dark at the start of the film. Actor Bob Gunton stands in for Ramis during these scenes with the aid of prosthetics and digital makeup; however, later in the movie, when Spengler returns as a ghost to help his grandchildren, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), to defeat Gozer (Olivia Wilde), it’s the late Ivan Reitman, director of the first two Ghostbusters films and father of Afterlife director Jason Reitman, who doubles as the iconic character.

Now, a brand-new Ghostbusters sequel is in development, which is heading for theaters this December. The fifth film in the franchise (the fourth in the main canon series) will return to New York City, where original Ghostbusters, Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) will train Afterlife‘s teenage ensemble to become the next generation of Ghostbusters.

Finn Wolfhard as Trevor (L), McKenna Grace as Phoebe (M), and Logan Kim as Podcast (R) in Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Several actors have been confirmed to appear: the Afterlife ensemble, Finn Wolfhard (Trevor), McKenna Grace (Phoebe), Paul Rudd (Gary Grooberson), Celeste O’Conner (Lucky), Logan Kim (Podcast), and Carrie Coon (Carrie Callie), original Ghostbusters actors, Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz), Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), and William Atherton (Walter Peck), and newcomers Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, James Acaster, and Emily Alyn Lind in undisclosed roles.

It’s unlikely Egon Spengler will return in the upcoming sequel, though, seeing as his spirit “passes over” at the end of the 2021 sequel; his “lifeforce” dissipating into the air as the camera turns skyward to face the heavens.

(L to R) Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) in Ghostbusters II
Credit: Sony Pictures

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However, another original character might also wind up being killed off in a future Ghostbusters sequel, as his real life-counterpart recently revealed that he’d like to be “brought back” using whatever technology is available.

In an interview with British tabloid, the Daily Mail (via Yahoo! News), Dan Aykroyd talked about how he thinks future filmmakers will use technology such as artificial intelligence, which is becoming increasingly popular, to bring him back after he has passed away.

While re-creating deceased actors’ likenesses often raises some ethical questions among cinemagoers, Aykroyd is all for it. “I’m sure that when I pass beyond the veil, they’ll come up with a story to incorporate me,” the 71-year-old actor said. “And as long as my family gets a healthy fee and it’s a good story, I’m fine with that.”

Ray Stantz possessed in Ghostbusters II
Credit: Sony Pictures

Re-creating the likeness of deceased actors back to reprise their roles is nothing new. Perhaps one of the most notable examples of this in recent years is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), in which Grand Moff Tarkin was re-created using ground-breaking VFX to include the likeness of late actor Peter Cushing. The same, of course, can be said about Harold Ramis’ likeness in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

“The writers of [Ghostbusters] Afterlife loved the first two movies and wanted to pass the torch to a new generation,” Aykroyd continued, referring to Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan (who’s now directing the new film). “I was 100 percent on board. I added my whatever talents to make it happen last time, and I hope to continue to do so as there are many, many horror stories to be told.”

Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One
Credit: Lucasfilm

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It seems Aykroyd really is keen on future Ghostbusters sequels. Recently, he told Weekend Mag (via Edinburgh Live) he wants to do a sequel set in Scotland after spending some time exploring the country. It sounds like the ideal setting for a Ghostbusters spinoff, but as for Aykroyd returning as a ghost in a future film, here’s to hoping he has many years left yet.

In fact, here’s to hoping none of the original characters are killed off in the upcoming film. Recently, Ernie Hudson talked about how he would have chosen a different direction for the legacy characters than what we’ll get. Hopefully, he’s just talking about how much screen time they get.

Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Though plot specifics are being kept under wraps, a Production Weekly listing (via Ghostbusters News) has revealed the current synopsis for Ghostbusters 4:

“After the events in Oklahoma, the Ghostbusters team returns to where it all started; New York City! The Spengler family story continues with a new group of Ghostbusters led by Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd).”

Phoebe using the proton pack in Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

Ghostbusters 4 stars McKenna Grace (Phoebe), Logan Kim (Podcast), Celeste O’Connor (Lucky), Finn Wolfhard (Trevor), Carrie Coon (Callie), Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), Paul Rudd (Gary Grooberson), William Atherton (Walter Peck), Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz), and Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore), and Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, James Acaster, and Emily Alyn Lind in undisclosed roles.

Ghostbusters 4 is slated for release on December 20, 2023. However, despite its target release date, actor Ernie Hudson recently confirmed that the film could be delayed until spring due to the ongoing WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike.

There are no release dates for the Ghostbusters animated movie and the series.

Would you like to see the original characters appear as ghosts in a future Ghostbusters sequel? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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