There’s a new Ghostbusters movie? There’s a new Ghostbusters movie! We got an image teaser way, way back, but this franchise has had such a rocky history of revival that nothing seems real until there’s footage.
And now, there’s footage.
The first trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife is here, and it’s hiding some details that illuminate just what Egon Spengler got up to before his death, and what that’s going to mean for his family and the sleepy town of Summerville, Oklahoma.
Here’s the trailer if you haven’t yet seen it:
Now. Let’s get straight to it.
Why Did Egon Move to Rural Oklahoma?
Because he discovered that Ivo Shandor was up to some bulls***!
There’s a brief shot in the trailer where Phoebe and her friend (played by Logan Kim) approach the rusted gates of Shandor Mining Company (established 1927!).
In Ghostbusters lore, Ivo Shandor is the squamous architect behind the creation of 550 Central Park West, the giant Neo-Renaissance apartment building that Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) lives in and which functions as a summoning gateway for Gozer, a wrathful god-like entity worshiped way back in 6000 BC.
In other words, Ivo Shandor figured out how to use semi-modern technology and scientific methods to summon ghosts AND angry supernatural gods. Decades before Egon, Ray, and Venkman independently figured out how to do it.
In a key scene in the latter half of the very first Ghostbusters film, Ray (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon (Harold Ramis) describe the bizarre architectural design of Dana’s building.
Egon Spengler: The structure of this roof cap is exactly like the kind of telemetry tracker that NASA uses to identify dead pulsars in deep space.
Ray Stantz: Cold riveted girders with cores of pure selenium.
Peter Venkman: Everyone getting this so far? So what? I guess they just don’t make them like they used to.
Stantz: No! Nobody ever made them like this! The architect was either a certified genius or an aesthetic wacko!
Venkman: Ray, for a moment, pretend that I don’t know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on.
Stantz: You never studied. The whole building is a huge superconductive antenna that was designed and built expressly for the purpose of pulling in and concentrating spiritual turbulence. Your girlfriend, Pete, lives in the corner penthouse of Spook Central.
This scene tells us a LOT about what Egon was up to before the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Shandor built a superconductor the size of a skyscraper to signal and summon a god, using “pure selenium” as a superconductive building material. (This part is charmingly accurate! Selenium is a superconductor and if silicon weren’t as readily available as it is, we’d be using a lot more of it for our phones and Nintendo Switches and such.)
Pure selenium doesn’t naturally occur in large enough quantities to be inexpensive, however. And while Shandor could have refined selenium to get a mostly pure mix, he would have needed a LOT of material, and in 1927 it would have been substantially cheaper to just…mine it. Summerville, Oklahoma must have simply been the place where there was enough pure selenium in the ground to build a big enough supernatural antenna.
Shandor may not have mined all of it, though. (He might not have needed to.) Which means there’s still possibly enough pure selenium under Summerville to create a natural potential gateway for…Gozer! (That town is shaking a lot, so something’s coming through.)
Egon must have moved there to keep an eye on it.
Is Gozer Coming Back?
Sure looks like it! There’s a very familiar Gozer-dog leg scaring the crap out of Paul Rudd in the trailer.
What Form Will Gozer Take?
Notably, Egon mentions that Gozer can be “whatever it wants” in our world. Since Paul Rudd is already in the movie, can we humbly suggest that Gozer take the form of Tayne?
Now Tayne we can get into!
Why Doesn’t Anyone Remember the Events of the First Two Ghostbusters Films?
Probably because weird stuff happens a lot in New York City and you can’t remember all of it. (Did you know we had a power plant blow up on the Lower East Side in 2012? Or that a mysterious maple syrup smell would pervade the city in the 2000s and we couldn’t figure out why?) By far the weirdest things that happen in the original films are Stay-Puft’s rampage and the Statue of Liberty walking into Midtown, but both of those are such extreme, unexplainable one-off phenomena that you can’t really do anything but shrug and say, yeah, that happened once and it was weird. By the year 2020, probably the only time it ever comes up is as a pop culture signifier on an OKCupid or Tinder date.
Additionally, although the events of the Ghostbusters films have massive metaphysical implications, nobody died during those events, so they don’t carry the weight of tragedies that truly scar New York City, like 9/11.
But There Was Another City-Wide Outbreak of Ghosts in 2016?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife seems intent on ignoring or possibly erasing the 2016 film. Paul Rudd’s character Mr. Grooberson says there haven’t been any ghost sightings in 30 years, and since he seems super into a historical niche like the Ghostbusters, he’d definitely know about the events of the 2016 film.
Although it’s still possible that both films could exist together. The Ghostbusters in the 2016 film discover their tech independently of the efforts in the previous films, which actually tracks nicely with the overall lore of the franchise, where weird scientists repeatedly discover how to summon and capture ghosts. Plus, by the end of the 2016 film, the various officials of New York City dismiss the events of the film as the work of elaborate pranksters. (In fairness to these stereotypical officials, the ending does kinda look like a flash mob marketing stunt, thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s incomparable gyration.) Rudd’s character may simply not know about the 2016 event. Any coverage of it would have lasted maybe a day in this decade’s rapid news cycles.
So, if Gozer’s Coming Back Then the Old Crew is Probably Gonna Show Up to Help the Kids Out?
You know it. They’re all signed on to reprise their roles. And if the Gozer-dog is back then we gotta think Sigourney is gonna sling on a proton pack and blast a very cathartic hole through one.
Will Gozer Ask Phoebe if She’s a God and Will Winston Lean Over and Whisper “Just Say Yes”?
We don’t know anything more about this movie than the average viewer but…yes.