Movies based on video games, or steeped in the world of video games, have always faced an uphill battle on the big screen. It’s pretty sad that the first live action Mortal Kombat film is still considered by many to be the best direct video game film in existence. Then came Wreck- It Ralph and things changed. An ode to older arcade games, Wreck-It Ralph ended up bringing in a cavalcade of characters from all over the video game map, and it worked!
Of course, the most important aspect of making any film work is for it to have a solid story with a clear viewpoint. The gaming aspect is just the icing on the cake. Hence why the creative team behind the Disney sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet, had a very large and daunting task to complete: How do you make another solid story and properly represent the entirety of the internet? Think about that for a second, “The Internet,” (with a capital I!) basically means the entire world these days. Anything and everything was up for grabs.
A shared universe of massive importance, from YouTube to Reddit, would have to have representation in some way, but what about that random search some 14-year-old typed in to do research on the Parthenon for his high school homework? That certainly can be something that pops up. Let’s also not forget about the army of cats that inhabits every corner of the World Wide Web.
With some groundwork on how to tackle such issues being laid down when they made the first film, it still didn’t make for easy work for Directors/Writers Phil Johnston, Rich Moore, and Josie Trinidad. We spoke with team behind both Ralph films, ahead of this year’s New York Comic Con to discuss all of these matter and what went into forming the sequel to one of the biggest surprises in animated features, next to the team’s other smash hit, Zootopia. We also got a little insight into that Disney Princesses scene you’ve been seeing clips of too.
“For me, with the princesses, I grew up loving The Little Mermaid, and my favorite Disney animated movie is Cinderella,” Trinadad tells us. “What I love this little take is we get to see another side of them that’s a little more relatable and human, so it’s both nostalgic and modern at the same time. I love that I get to see Cinderella, but then she’s in a sweat shirt just kind of flopping on a beanbag. That just makes her that much closer to me and sort of a new generation of animation fans and film fans.”
This ties into finding the breadth of culture Wreck-It Ralph gets to satirize and romanticize, while also indicating ways Walt Disney Animation Studios can broaden its references to a larger online culture, while still keeping the piece focused on story.
“It was hugely challenging when we first came up with the idea of the internet,” Johnston says. “It’s like saying we’re going to do a movie about New York City! ‘Cool!’ But then you go, ‘Wait, there’s Penn Station, there’s the Lower East Side, there’s Harlem, there’s Brooklyn, there’s the Bronx. There are eight million stories, so it became very daunting very quickly. And the way we were able to ground it is figuring out exactly the story we wanted to tell about Ralph and Penelope’s friendship, because ultimately that’s at the core of this movie. It’s about two friends who go to this new place and their friendship is tested as a result of it.”
Wreck-It Ralph is now playing.