“Where are you from? Originally?” The question Peter Venkman asks in Ghostbusters has become relevant again.
We already knew that the fifth film in the series, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, would see the return of not only the three living original Ghostbusters but also Annie Potts’s Janine as a full-fledged member of the team. But while previous reports from director Gil Kenan, who co-wrote Ghostbusters: Afterlife with that film’s director and Frozen Empire co-writer Jason Reitman, insisted that the previous film shut the door on Ivo Shandor, Gozer, and Zuul, the latest trailer for Frozen Empire shows that not every old antagonist is in the past.
The trailer opens with narrator describing a longstanding feud with the Ghostbusters, indicating a long standing grudge. “They have a minor hanging out of a moving vehicle,” the voice intones with incredulity. “Firing a laser gun.”
Even before the trailer reveals the speaker to be former EPA agent Walter Peck, viewers should know who it is — not because viewers recognize the voice of actor William Atherton, but because he makes a reasonable complaint about our heroes.
As many commenters have pointed out over the years, Walter Peck might lack the charisma of our heroes (and also genitals, according to what Venkman heard), but he has a point. The Environmental Protection Agency exists precisely to prevent businesses, such as the Ghostbusters, from harming the environment while making money. The containment unit does pose a potential threat to the Earth, and Venkman’s snarky answers don’t help anything.
We thought we’d seen the last of Walter Peck when the remains of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man fell on him at the end of Ghostbusters. But Peck has made some appearances in non-canon Ghostbuster stories, which might give us an indication of his role in Frozen Empire. In Ghostbusters: The Video Game, once considered the true sequel to Ghostbusters II, Peck serves as head of the Paranormal Contracts Oversight Commission, a department in the Mayor’s Office that regulates the Ghostbusters’ activities. He has the same role in the Ghostbusters comics from IDW, where he continues to clash with the team, although he does hire Janine as a member of the PCOC.
Given Kenan’s interest in drawing from The Real Ghostbusters animated series, the Ghostbusters games and comics might be big influences this time around. We already know the pronounced role that Janine will have in the next movie, and she may provide a new link between Peck and the Ghostbusters, too. That said, Afterlife treated the events of the first two Ghostbusters movies as forgotten history, which means the New York mayor would have no need for a special commission devoted to paranormal activity.
Whatever Peck’s role in Frozen Empire, he’s not the only returning baddie to haunt the team. The latest trailer also offers a glimpse of both Slimer, not to be confused with the very distinct and totally different Muncher from Afterlife, and of the library ghost from the opening scene of Ghostbusters. And given the angry look on her face, someone was making too much noise again. Maybe about Walter Peck.
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire comes to movie theaters on March 22.