Ghostbusters: Afterlife only features the original team for one scene due to the film being a legacy sequel rather than a direct sequel.
Despite being featured separately throughout the film, the original Ghostbusters from 1984 only share one scene together in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Afterlife is a film that serves to honor the legacy of the original two Ghostbusters movies rather than a direct sequel. As such, Ghostbusters: Afterlife puts its focus primarily on the new cast and the next generation. However, the original Ghostbusters still get their time to shine together near the film’s conclusion.
Throughout Ghostbusters: Afterlife, each of the original Ghostbusters gets an individual spotlight. The late Harold Ramis gets the most screentime as the ghost of Egon Spengler, helping his family finish the job he and his team started 30 years prior. Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz features when Spengler’s granddaughter Phoebe calls his occult bookshop, wanting to learn more about why the original Ghostbusters broke up. Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman and Ernie Husdon’s Winston Zeddemore also feature in Ghostbusters: Afterlife’s two post-credits scenes. Venkman spends time with Sigourney Weaver’s Dana, while Winston is seen talking with Annite Potts’ Janine Melnitz about potentially restoring the Ghostbusters’ old firehouse.
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The original Ghostbusters do eventually reunite in the final confrontation against Gozer, suiting up with their proton packs and crossing their streams as they help Egon Spengler’s family and their friends defeat the evil god for good. It’s a satisfying send-off, and the scene pays a nice tribute to Harold Ramis’ original character – but the Ghostbusters reunion only works so well because it’s only a single scene at the film’s end. The original Ghostbusters are only in one scene of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and it was the right thing to do.
Why The Original Ghostbusters Are Only In One Scene In Afterlife
Egon Spengler’s family is much more central to the plot than the original Ghostbusters cast, as it sees them discovering who Egon was and the unfulfilled mission he left behind for them. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is all about legacy. Seeing these new characters take up the mantle is stirring stuff – particularly in the case of Egon’s granddaughter, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), who sees much of herself in her grandfather. Phoebe’s brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and their friends Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) all shine while forming a brand new team to fight Gozer the Gozerian. No character is meant to look or act like the original Ghostbusters, which is the right choice. Trying to tie the new Ghostbusters too closely to those bygone would’ve muddied the plot and fueled accusations that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is just an updated rehash of the original series.
Why Afterlife Was Right To Limit The Original Ghostbusters’ Screentime
Anything more than Afterlife’s single concluding team-up scene would have distracted from the new cast and the primary focus of the plot, which is less about the original Ghostbusters and more about what they left behind. Other people looking to do their own ghostbusting have embraced the legacy of the original team. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a legacy sequel in the truest sense, with the original Ghostbusters showing up just long enough to pass the torch to the next generation. Otherwise, the original Ghostbusters’ presence would’ve overshadowed the new Ghostbusters, and the legacy sequel would’ve descended into fan service, cheapening the new Ghostbusters’ journeys. The story of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is meant to carry on the franchise as a whole, which can’t happen while the movies keep looking to the past for nostalgia’s sake.
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While Ghostbusters: Afterlife certainly has its flaws, it’s a blueprint for how to handle a legacy sequel in terms of balancing original and new characters. The inclusion of the single scene with the original Ghostbusters team is such a satisfying payoff at the film’s end. While that single scene is used to great effect as they come together to help the new team (including Egon’s ghost), it doesn’t overshadow the newcomers’ efforts in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
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