Old School Americana & Nostalgia

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John Wayne’s Gunslinging Swagger Inspired an Iconic Guillermo del Toro Character

John Wayne’s Gunslinging Swagger Inspired an Iconic Guillermo del Toro Character

Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was a crowd-pleasing monsters vs. robots epic, and John Wayne inspired the design of one of the robots. In 2013’s Pacific Rim, del Toro showcases his monster vision with action-packed brilliance. The film is set in the future, where humanity battles Kaiju – enormous monsters emerging from an interdimensional portal at the Pacific Ocean’s depths. The fight is waged using massive robots known as Jaegers.

Despite their power, the Jaegers alone prove insufficient in defeating the Kaiju. In a bid to save humanity, Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi’s characters join forces to pilot an old school Jaeger. This is the point where Guillermo del Toro found inspiration in the works of John Wayne.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, del Toro explained his desire to infuse Jaeger Gipsy Danger with an authentic American essence. Drawing inspiration from the iconic New York City skyline, the film showcased the grandeur of the city. To amplify the Americanness of Gipsy Danger, del Toro, and his art design team sought guidance from John Wayne. Of course, this further enhances the character’s cultural significance.

John Wayne was Guillermo del Toro’s Choice to Represent the United States

“Concept artist Oscar Chichoni and I discussed the idea of basing its shape on the art deco buildings of New York like the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building and combining it with John Wayne,” Guillermo del Toro explained. “I wanted him to have the gait of a gunslinger. If you watch the movie, he has the hip movement that gunslingers have in Western movies.”

Since Gypsy Danger’s movement was inspired by John Wayne, it really does capture the essence of a Western gunslinger. The Jaeger’s appearance drew inspiration from iconic American buildings like the Chrysler and Empire State Building in New York City. The attention to these details paid off. Gypsy Danger’s motions embody the spirit of a cowboy. Whether striding through a tsunami or charging into battle against a Kaiju, the resemblance is uncanny. It’s fitting that the American robot moves like Wayne, given his extensive filmography and the role in romanticizing cowboys as heroic figures.

In the movie, each country has its own Jaeger to defend against the invading Kaijus that threaten our planet’s existence. Of course, Gipsy Danger stands as the representation of the United States, which makes tying in John Wayne relevant. A similar design approach can be seen in other Jaegers. For instance, the Russian Jaeger that takes cues from nuclear containment silos and T-34 tanks. This attention to detail adds depth and authenticity to the film’s universe.