Its fair to say that Netflix’s original film, Bright, has split opinion. Although generally disliked by critics, audiences have reacted positively to it. Since its release on December 22, Bright has become one of Netflix’s most streamed films, with over 11 million views in the first week alone. Netflix were pretty sure they had a success on their hands, confirming that a sequel was in development before the first film’s release.
Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are set to return as LAPD officers Daryl Ward and Nick Jakoby, with David Ayer once more in the director’s chair. Ayer will also write the sequel, taking over from Max Landis. While a straight sequel looks to be on the cards, what could a potential follow-up to Bright look like?
Warning: Spoilers for Bright below!
The Continuing Adventures of Ward and Jakoby
At the end of Bright, Ward and Jakoby are hailed as heroes for protecting the magic wand and stopping Leilah’s plot to resurrect the Dark Lord. While the actual specifics of their deeds are classified by the Magic Task Force, the film’s storyline is wrapped up efficiently. Bright doesn’t need a sequel but there are plenty of potential jumping off points. The threat of the Inferni, a dark magic cabal seeking to bring back the Dark Lord is still out there. They are opposed by both the Shield of Light and the Magic Task Force, the latter of whom is in possession of the magic wand. But perhaps the most fertile ground for a sequel to explore is how the events of Bright changed both the main characters.
During the film, Jakoby, the world’s first Orc cop, suffers the stigma of being “unblooded,” and is therefore an outcast among his species. By performing a great deed during the events of the film, Jakoby becomes blooded and gains a measure of acceptance amongst his species. Ward, on the other hand, discovers that he is one of the rare Humans able to wield a magic wand – a Bright.
Throughout the film, Jakoby believes that their encounter with the magic wand means they are in a prophecy, and that they will become great heroes. While this does occur in Bright, will a sequel set them up for further heroic adventures with higher stakes? The Inferni are still intent of the resurrection of the Dark Lord – if they are successful, will Ward and Jakoby be the ones to unite the divided races into a force that can stop him?
Despite seemingly dying at the film’s climax, Bright‘s final scenes show that Tikka, the young Elf who is in possession of the magic wand at the start of the film, is very much alive. How much impact will she have on a sequel? Bright presents her as a member of the Inferni who defected in an effort to stop their plans but is that all there is to her? And let’s not forget the Shield of Light and the Magic Task Force. Their existence hints at a much deeper knowledge of the Inferni’s plans. How much do they know and what role will they play in the sequel?
Lord of the Rings in the Real(ish) World
Throughout the film, Bright gives us tantalising hints of the backstory to this alternate world. Among the information presented is the fact that a lot of the tension between the races in Bright‘s present day is due to the Dark Lord who tried to enslave the world through magic 2,000 years ago. It required an alliance of the nine races, led by the Orc Bright Jirak to stop him. Despite the prominence of an Orc in the defeat of the Dark Lord, the species is still blamed for a lot of the ills of the world because a lot of Orcs choose to stand with him.
Instead of a sequel, a prequel could focus on showing how the nine races lived together and the events that led to the modern status quo. It is clear that there is a rich backstory to explore, with a lot of potential for other projects to tell these stories. The drawback to a prequel is that it could invariably feel like Lord of the Rings with the serial numbers filed off. But admit it – the idea of a Dark Lord and an alliance of races rampaging across familiar places like Rome has a nice feel to it.
Beethoven Was An Elf (Maybe)
First things first – Bright does not make any mention of Beethoven or what species he was. But what if it did? The world of Bright is so very close to our own that it is clear that a lot of similar events occurred. During the film, mention is made of historical events like the Alamo and the Rampart scandal. Even Shrek gets name-checked. So if the history and culture of the world is seemingly largely unchanged apart from the addition of other races then it would be interesting to explore what effect this had on history.
How did the presence of Orcs affect the Middle Ages? Or did the Elves kickstart the Industrial Revolution? Exploring the alternate history of the world and seeing how different – and how similar – it is is an intriguing prospect. Something that would definitely be interesting to explore is the idea that prominent historical figures were not Human, but from different species. What if Nikola Tesla’s ideas about electricity were refuted because he was an Orc? Was part of Beethoven’s musical genius because he was an Elf? Even adding original characters to the altered history would be interesting. Perhaps there was an Orc general who fought with the Allied forces during World War II alongside Montgomery and Eisenhower.
The world that Bright has created is ripe for exploration.