Ghostbusters: Afterlife’s Jason Reitman Wants ‘Marvel’ Like Shared Universe

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is not the end of the Ghostbusters saga. In fact, it could be just the beginning of a whole shared universe in the Marvel style.

Paul Rudd and Ghostbusters Afterlife cast
Photo: Sony Pictures

This article contains Ghostbusters: Afterlife spoilers.

The last moments of Ghostbusters: Afterlife feel as much like a new beginning as a final farewell. The closing scenes of Jason Reitman’s love letter to his father’s work bring the curtain down with a sense of finality on multiple elements. This is definitely the last we’ll see of Harold Ramis’ Egon Spengler, who is brought back by digital magic as a kind-hearted ghost. One also gets the suspicion that Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman is making his goodbyes too with the respectful nod to Spengler and a revealed happily ever after with Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett.

However, just as the film closes the book on these aspects from the 1984 picture, it also seems to be opening the door for many others: young Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) is only just beginning to claim her ghostbusting birthright by strapping on the proton pack. Presumably there are still many more adventures she and big brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) can have with their friends that don’t stand in the shadow of the original movie.

Then there’s the actual final images of the film, with Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) taking the Ecto-1 back to New York City and telling Annie Potts about returning to the old firehouse… oblivious that there’s at least one ghost still trapped inside the containment unit downstairs. Certainly this is leaving the room open for sequels right?

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A little more than that, actually. The way Reitman tells it, this could be the start of an entire shared universe of Ghostbusters movies to be birthed at Sony!

At New York Comic Con last month, Reitman said he hoped Ghostbusters: Afterlife “sets the table” for all kinds of other Ghostbusters stories to be told. And when we run the quote by him during a recent interview, the filmmaker clarifies that he hopes the Ghostbusters franchise can emulate what Marvel Studios has done and bring various types of filmmakers in to build a larger canvas of Ghostbusters stories.

“You look at Marvel and how they’ve assembled this incredible roster of directors to tell their own kinds of personal stories in that universe,” Reitman tells us. “I can only imagine the kind of films we could have within the Ghostbusters mythology if those kinds of filmmakers came to Sony.”

It seems the seeds were already set in Ghostbusters: Afterlife with Winston Zeddemore being revealed to be a wealthy businessman 30 years after the events of Ghostbusters II (1989). He now works at the top of a skyscraper and can even foot the bill for Ray Stantz’s dead end Occult Bookshop. When we mention this development, Reitman even compares Hudson’s character to a prominent figurehead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Winston [always] had a business mind,” Reitman says. “He came in looking for a steady paycheck and we imagined him being a huge thriving success. If there was a way we wanted to see him moving forward, it was as more of a Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark type.”

But when we run the idea by Reitman of Winston leading his own corporatized nationwide Ghostbusters business, the director demurs at considering anything so distinct in its world-building. He does however enthuse at the idea of other filmmakers taking a crack at leaving their own stamp on the concept.

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“What I’ll say is the great thrill for me about Marvel is watching Taika [Waititi] make a movie; it’s watching James Gunn make a movie; it’s watching these filmmakers I already admire coming in and telling their version of a Marvel film. I want to see those same filmmakers come in and make Ghostbusters movies.”

Reitman is even very keen on seeing more of his own youthful interpretation of the Ghostbusters continue to learn the ropes, including Phoebe and Trevor, as well as Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor).

“I’d love to [continue],” Reitman enthuses. “I think Finn and Mckenna are already two of the bright stars of their generation, and I think Logan and Celeste will soon join them. They have so much talent, they love these characters, they love Ghostbusters, and they love each other… I would love to watch them continue ghostbusting.”

So could there be a world where more filmmakers leave their own stamp on the Ghostbusters universe? It probably depends on how this film’s box office performance goes, but there is definitely room for Reitman to continue his younger generation of Ghostbusters’ adventures. And while we still don’t know which ghost might be trapped at the abandoned firehouse in NYC (Viggo the Carpathian, perhaps?), that’s a mystery that is begging to be solved. Plus, who’s to say adventures only need to occur in those two locations. What about a Ghostbusters movie set in Ohio? Or the Bahamas?

If Reitman and Sony have their way, it may just come to pass. After all, Sony’s Ghostcorps brand is just waiting to be built upon.