(This article contains key plot information about the new Ghostbusters. If you haven’t seen it yet, consider yourself warned. Maybe read about Stephen Colbert crashing the RNC stage instead?)
Because we live in a post-Marvel universe where blockbusters are required to tease their sequels before the superpowered paint has even finished drying on the current one, more and more films are getting into the post-credits stinger game. (It was a particularly thrilling moment for audiences when the ending of Philomena showed her fighting Godzilla and Mothra in the eventual sequel Philomena: All Monsters Brawl.) Ghostbusters is no different, rewarding everyone who stuck around to find out who the second unit key grip was for the film.
After the Chris Hemsworth-led dance party that takes up the majority of the credits winds down, and the “All characters are fictional but yes this is still a remake, we’re Hollywood, people” disclaimer fades from view, there’s an additional scene in which the four ghostbusters are sitting in their lab. Patty tells the others she’s picking up a weird sound, and then, after a pause just long enough to make you wonder if they’re seriously going to end with another fart joke, she takes off her headphones and asks, “What’s Zuul?” The implication is clear: The sequel will feature the villain from the original film—assuming it makes enough money to greenlight one.
This was co-writer Katie Dippold’s intention, anyway. As Cinema Blend reports, she wanted the malevolent being to play a role in the first one, but didn’t get the chance. “I love Zuul, so there was a while I was pushing hard for it,” she says. “And then when I didn’t get that, I pitched that tag, like maybe in a sequel?” Which makes sense, given that she probably didn’t want to pitch the movie becoming a lightning rod for culture wars involving gender and ghost bros. “If this movie works and there is a call for there to be a sequel, then I would love for there to be a dark god,” Dippold added, almost as though this was about making big-budget popcorn entertainment and not a weird fracas over yet another property being remade. “If the first one is them dealing with a human scientist that’s doing this, the second one would be escalated to something more, you know?”
Given the movie was overall an entertaining and charming experience, hopefully any potential sequel will improve on the first installment. The obverse possibility, of course, is that it will be kind of lame—a worrying yardstick by which the reuse of all previous villains in new iterations of a franchise are judged, known as the Into Darkness Hamstring Effect.