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The Prestige 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

With Hollywood's affinity for sequels and the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can't help but admire director Christopher Nolan for giving a resounding "no" when asked if he would make a fourth Batman film. However, given that Nolan has historically been hesitant to do sequels, that does mean that fans of his 2006 movie "The Prestige" may not have much hope that they'll ever get to see a sequel.

Still, it's certainly possible. According to a source close to Christopher Priest (the author of the book that "The Prestige" was based on), Priest most likely sold the rights to the characters when he sold the movie rights, which means that Priest cannot write any sequels, but Disney is free to film a sequel, if they so choose. But why haven't they yet? And more importantly, how likely is it that a sequel to "The Prestige" will ever happen in the future?

While there is scant material on "The Prestige 2" (since there is no indication that Nolan intends to make a sequel), we have compiled information from various interviews with the cast and crew that may provide a little insight as to whether or not they might someday return to the world of "The Prestige."

Why isn't The Prestige 2 happening yet?

Let's start with the most obvious reason why "The Prestige 2" hasn't happened yet: Director Christopher Nolan hasn't expressed any intention to make a sequel. Even if he wanted to, it doesn't seem like Nolan has the time. He couldn't release any kind of sequel right after the first film because he had his hands full with "Inception" and the other Batman films. Even after he finished the "Dark Knight" trilogy, Nolan was busy with other projects that he presumably wanted to do more: "Interstellar," "Dunkirk," "Tenet," and "Oppenheimer."

Nolan has previously expressed interest in doing a James Bond film, so he might prioritize that over a sequel to "The Prestige." Some fans speculate that after "Oppenheimer," Nolan might try to return to a previously unfinished project: A remake of the 1967 show "The Prisoner," which Nolan was briefly attached to direct in 2009. Other observers predict he might continue his trend of historical films like "Dunkirk" and "Oppenheimer," which means that a sequel to "The Prestige" (another period thriller) is at least a remote possibility.

Beyond that, it's anyone's guess as to what he plans to do next and whether or not "The Prestige 2" is in those plans.

Who would star in The Prestige 2?

Since no sequel to "The Prestige" has been announced, there is obviously no news from Christian Bale on whether or not he would return as Alfred Borden. We do, however, know how Bale feels about returning as Batman, which suggests how he would respond to "The Prestige 2" if it ever happened. When asked by ComicBook.com if he would be willing to star in a fourth Batman movie, Bale said, "If [Christopher Nolan] ever decided to do it again and if he chose to come my way again, then yeah, I would consider it." However, he insisted, "I'd only ever make it with Chris [Nolan]." So it follows that he would most likely be interested in playing Borden again, so long as Nolan is directing.

Since Michael Caine is another frequent Nolan collaborator, we suspect he would be totally game to reprise his role as Cutter. Scarlett Johannson probably wouldn't need much convincing to return, either. She described "The Prestige" as "[one of the] most beautiful scripts I'd ever read," adding, "I wanted to do it so badly" (per MyMovies International). Likewise, Hugh Jackman was glad to be a part of "The Prestige." "[Working with Nolan] was an incredibly enjoyable experience," he told IGN. He loved it so much, in fact, that he urged his own production company to study Nolan's film teams as a model. We have no doubt he'd be happy to return as Robert Angier (if Nolan decides to bring back the character from the dead, that is).

Tesla would not be returning

When developing "The Prestige," Nolan had to beg David Bowie to accept the part of Nikola Tesla. "I told him if he didn't agree to do the part, I had no idea where I would go from there," Nolan admitted to Entertainment Weekly. Now it's impossible to imagine the film without Bowie, and arguably a sequel wouldn't feel complete without Bowie's character, either. Alas, we will not get to see him portray Tesla again, because Bowie passed away in 2016.

Still, Nolan might figure out a way to create a sequel even without Bowie. After all, Nolan managed to write a fitting conclusion to Batman's story without the Joker — and without making the Joker's absence obvious. In "The Dark Knight Rises," the Joker is never mentioned. "That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight," Nolan told Empire. "I didn't want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me." So if Nolan ever decides to make "The Prestige 2," we're sure he would find a way to artfully write Tesla out of the story.

Perhaps instead the sequel could instead feature Tesla's rival Thomas Edison, who was mentioned but never appeared in "The Prestige." If so, there would be only one logical casting choice to play the nemesis of Bowie's character, according to Beyond the Box Set: Mick Jagger.

What could be explored in The Prestige 2?

If "The Prestige 2" ever comes to fruition, then there are countless possible storylines it could explore. Most likely, the sequel would be set at least 15 years after the events of the previous film, so it wouldn't need to explain the age differences of the characters. At the end of "The Prestige," we last saw Alfred Borden reuniting with his daughter and presumably retiring from the stage, but the sequel could show Borden getting sucked into the magician's lifestyle once more, chasing another impossible trick.

With Angier (presumably) dead, the sequel would probably need to introduce a new character to clash with Borden, perhaps an up-and-coming magician who is the same age that Borden was whenever he first started performing. Alternatively, maybe a character from the first film could step up to fill that role. Who better to cross swords with Borden than his former assistant Olivia (Scarlett Johannsen)? She knows most of his tricks, and she would probably be furious with Borden if she learned that he was living a double life without telling her.

Perhaps Borden's obsession makes him all but abandon his daughter Jess (Samantha Mahurin), who would now be a teenager. Or maybe he actually spends plenty of time with his daughter, but only because he is grooming her to be his assistant or his eventual successor. That would be a nice way to acknowledge Borden's growth in the first film while reminding viewers that he still has much to learn.

Borden vs. Harry Houdini

Some fans have an even clearer idea of what could be explored in the sequel. Podcasters Harry Chappell and John Lucas from Beyond on the Box Set proposed an entire plot outline for the sequel, which they called, "The Prestige 2: Smoke & Mirrors."

When the (hypothetical) film begins, fate has taken away the person Borden loves most: His daughter succumbs to tuberculosis. All he has left is his magic, which he throws himself into zealously. Borden soon discovers that Olivia is now working as an assistant to another magician: Harry Houdini. (Hey, "The Prestige" took creative liberties in its portrayal of Tesla, so why not Houdini, too?) Houdini could be played by none other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt, suggested Lucas.

Borden is dying to know Houdini's secrets, and he can't seem to think of anything else. (It's not like he can start his own magic act, since he's a wanted man and presumed dead.) So he begs Olivia to tell him Houdini's secrets, but her lips are sealed. In fact, she claims that Houdini is a far better magician than Borden ever was. This pushes Borden over the edge. With a little help from Tesla's machine, Borden tries desperately to recreate Houdini's tricks, but he can't seem to figure out Houdini's secret. From there on, the story gets even wilder, with a kidnapping plot and an appearance from the devil himself (played by Tilda Swinton, a casting choice almost as inspired as Bowie).

Nolan won't do any sequels unless he has a good story

So far, the Batman movies are the only Christopher Nolan films ever to receive a sequel. As Nolan demonstrated when he declined to make a fourth Batman film, he won't churn out a sequel just because he can. Before he will even consider a sequel, Nolan always asks himself, "Is there a story that's going to keep me emotionally invested for the couple of years that it will take to make another one?" he explained to The Los Angeles Times. After the release of "The Dark Knight," Nolan admitted that he didn't know for certain he was going to do a third Batman movie, simply because the previous two films set such a high bar. He added that this pressure exists anytime a filmmaker attempts to make a sequel. "How many good third movies in a franchise can people name?" pointed out Nolan. "We had the challenge of trying to make a great second movie, and there haven't been too many of those either."

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean he hates sequels. "The choice to do a sequel or not to do a sequel is not based on any kind of principle of whether I do sequels or not," Nolan told Total Film (via GamesRadar). "Each project is assessed on its own merit." It still remains to be seen whether "The Prestige" merits a sequel in Nolan's eyes.

Nolan might still return after taking break

There's still a chance that Nolan could return to "The Prestige," even after spending more than 15 years working on other films. Nolan seems to prefer taking a break to work on something else before returning to direct a sequel. After all, that's exactly what he did with his "Dark Knight" trilogy. After moving away from Batman to create "Inception," Nolan came back to "The Dark Knight Rises" invigorated and excited to return to Gotham, he told Entertainment Weekly.

In fact, it's worth noting that "The Prestige" originated as a small-scale project he wanted to film in between Batman movies. After releasing "Batman Begins," Nolan shared that he was open to doing a sequel, but it wasn't his highest priority. "Well, I definitely intend to do something else first," he told Blackfilm in 2005, adding, "I want to do something smaller after having done such a big film." That smaller project was none other than "The Prestige." Now that Nolan has spent over ten years creating standalone films, he might be more willing to launch "The Prestige 2."

Of course, Nolan's sentiments might have changed since then. In an interview with Hitfix, he said, "I tend to think that if you have the chance to do a big film, you should do it while you can. [I'm] always worried maybe I [won't] be able to do a big film again." As a result, he might be less likely to revive a smaller, more independent project like "The Prestige."

Why continuing the story might be difficult

If you're a fan of "The Prestige," there's still reason to hope that "The Prestige 2" could happen sometime in the future. However, you shouldn't hold your breath, either. Judging by how the first movie ended, creating a sequel — especially one that lives up to the original — would come with some inherent challenges.

For one, the absence of Hugh Jackman's Angier would make filming a sequel difficult. The rivalry between Borden and Angier is at the heart of "The Prestige." Yet with Angier presumed dead, any sequel would be missing that key element, unless Nolan were to create a new character to clash with Borden. Even still, Hugh Jackman left some pretty huge shoes to fill. (We suppose Nolan could always bring back Angier from the dead. Although such a twist would run the risk of seeming contrived to audiences, it's at least plausible that one of Angier's clones survived.)

Another factor that complicates making a sequel is that viewers already know exactly how Angier and Borden did their magic tricks. The ending of "The Prestige" already revealed these magicians' deepest secrets, which doesn't leave much to explore in the sequel. While it's possible "The Prestige 2" could unearth even more of Borden's secrets, or introduce a new character with their own secrets, it would be difficult to top the reveal at the end of "The Prestige." Like any good magic trick, it's less mesmerizing to watch if you already know the secret.