‘Ghostbusters’ Finally Makes Unpopular Installment Canon With Main Film Series

in Movies & TV

Erin Gilbert looking confused in the labs in 'Ghostbusters: Answer the Call'

Credit: Sony Pictures

Canonicity is a strange thing. But when it comes to the Ghostbusters franchise, it’s much more straightforward than many others, as the “primary canon” is the main series of films, whose continuity was established in the original Ghostbusters (1984).

And while that continuity was disrupted by the controversial reboot Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016), which is a direct remake of the 1984 film, Sony Pictures would soon re-establish the original timeline with Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021).

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) screaming in Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Other installments from the wider Ghostbusters franchise aren’t necessarily connected to the films. The long-running IDW Ghostbusters comic book series is considered “secondary canon,” while the beloved animated series, The Real Ghostbusters (1986 — 1991), seemingly exists in its own universe along with Extreme Ghostbusters (1997) — although both the comics and the cartoons consider the first two movies canon.

As for the video games, there was one that was considered canon with the films for a long time, even by Ray Stantz actor Dan Aykroyd: Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009). However, that all changed when Afterlife was released .

Now, there’s another game whose place among the films is rather vague. Chronologically, it fits in perfectly between Afterlife and the upcoming sequel, but whether or not the new film will acknowledge it as an official installment is unknown.

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

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Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed (2022) is an asymmetrical multiplayer game that was released last year. While it has been popular with many fans, it has received mostly mixed to average reviews, with many considering it to be vastly inferior to the fan-favorite 2009 game. The game has been praised for its homages to the films, however, it has been criticized for feeling “incomplete” and “repetitive.”

However, a brand-new DLC (downloadable content) titled Ecto Edition has now been “unleashed,” and it reunites fans with the iconic villain Samhain from The Real Ghostbusters. The Ecto Edition also includes the previous three DLCs.

Like all but one of the films in the franchise (Afterlife), Spirits Unleashed‘s hub is the Firehouse in Tribeca, New York City. The Ecto Edition‘s expanded story allows players to further explore the iconic location and discover more Easter eggs from the movies and beyond.

The Firehouse sign in 'Ghostbusters Spirits Unleashed'
Credit: IllFonic

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While Spirits Unleashed is blatantly a sequel to Afterlife, seeing as it finds characters such as Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) and Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) exactly where we left them in the 2021 sequel, its canonicity within the film series has been questionable.

The reason for this is the upcoming sequel to Afterlife. As we don’t know whether or not the film will retcon events established in the game, just as the 2021 film wipes the beloved 2009 game Ghostbusters: The Video Game from canon, it’s difficult to know whether Spirits Unleashed — which, chronologically, acts as a prequel to Afterlife and a prequel to the upcoming film — will fit into the overarching narrative of the films in the long run.

Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd) encountering a Terror Dog in Walmart in 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'
Credit: Sony Pictures

Related: First Teaser for ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Sequel Arrives

But now, the Afterlife movies have seemingly canonized Spirits Unleashed. After completing the new DLC, we learn that the Spengler family from the 2021 film — Phoebe (McKenna Grace), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), and Callie (Carrie Coon) — will soon be arriving in New York City, which heavily implies that an Afterlife-themed DLC is on the horizon.

We already know that the upcoming sequel to Afterlife “will continue the Spengler family storyline,” this time finding them in New York City instead of Summerville, Oklahoma, where Ray Stantz, Winston Zeddemore, and Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) will train Phoebe, Trevor, Podcast (Logan Kim), and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) to become the new Ghostbusters.

But whether or not any of the actors will reprise their roles in a DLC remains to be seen, though it’s likely considering Ernie Hudson and Dan Aykroyd already have. And here’s to hoping Ghostbusters: Afterlife 2 (2024) will acknowledge certain events from Spirits Unleashed and perhaps even include characters exclusive to the game.

Per Ghostbusters News, check out the trailer for the Ecto Edition below:

Related: Brand-New ‘Ghostbusters’ Movie Is Now Available to Watch!

Spirits Unleashed Ecto Edition is available on Epic Games Store, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife 2 releases in theaters on March 29, 2024.

It 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).

Kumail Nanjiani, Patton Oswalt, James Acaster, and Emily Alyn Lind have been cast in undisclosed roles.

Have you played Ecto Edition? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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