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Inception Sequel - Will It Ever Happen?

Christopher Nolan's mind-bending sci-fi epic "Inception" blew audiences away when it debuted in 2010. Set in a world where shared dreaming tech has become a commonplace tool in the world of corporate espionage, "Inception" follows an expert thief as he leads a team through an unconventional mission. A powerful CEO named Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and tasks him with inserting an idea into his competitor's subconscious through his dreams. Sounds complicated, right? And that's before we get into Cobb's ghostly wife, the nature of dream architecture, and the prospect of getting stranded in limbo.

"Inception" perfectly marries a cerebral sci-fi premise with the fast pacing of an action flick. Stunning visuals keep the audience engaged throughout a story significantly more complex than your typical summer popcorn movie. After all the gunplay, dream sharing, twists, and turns, it all comes to a simple, yet dramatic, conclusion. Fans have never stopped talking about the ending of "Inception," and they probably never will.

Though the story is tightly written and leaves nothing unresolved, the world of "Inception" is so ripe with possibilities that audiences have been begging for a sequel for more than a decade. Despite box office success and a dedicated fan base, there hasn't been a follow up yet. Will it ever happen? That's what we're here to find out.

Why isn't an Inception sequel happening?

Most of the time, if a movie with franchise potential doesn't get a sequel, it's because people didn't show up to see it in theaters. That's definitely not the case with "Inception." The movie was an absolute box office smash, earning over $292 million in the US alone and nearly $900 million globally. Those are some eye-popping numbers, so naturally, there was immediate buzz about a sequel. In 2010, rumors began to swirl that executives at Warner Bros. desperately wanted Nolan to make a follow-up film. Any movie that earns more than triple its budget is going to have studios frothing at the mouth for more, but even this eagerness couldn't get a sequel off the ground.

The biggest thing holding back "Inception 2" is likely Christopher Nolan himself. "Inception" came out right in the middle of his "Dark Knight" trilogy. In the immediate aftermath of the film's release, he probably didn't have time to sit down and plan a sequel — he had Batman stories to write. Since then, he's kept himself overwhelmingly busy with movies like "Interstellar," "Dunkirk," and "Tenet." Maybe he's been plotting an "Inception" sequel all these years, but he certainly hasn't had the time to make it a reality.

What has Christopher Nolan said about an Inception sequel?

"Inception" may have been big enough for a sequel, but a follow-up isn't going anywhere without Christopher Nolan. He put a ton of work into his 2010 masterpiece; it wouldn't have been nearly as successful if he hadn't. It follows, then, that he'd want to put just as much care and craft into a sequel. So, does Nolan have big plans for another story?

Not necessarily. Back in 2011, Nolan told Deadline that even though he had a deep fascination with the world he created for the film, "I think of 'Inception' as one film." Anyone who's seen the movie knows that there's enough worldbuilding in it to support a whole franchise, but the plot itself is remarkably self-contained. The characters all get full introductions, and by the time credits roll on the film's purposefully ambiguous ending, there aren't any dangling plot threads left to tie up.

This might seem to dunk our dreams of a sequel into a tub of cold water, but it isn't all bad news. In that same interview, Nolan pointed out that he didn't plan on making a sequel while filming "Batman Begins," but that project turned into two more movies. In a 2010 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nolan said, "As for [movie] sequels, it's not something I want to say no to, but it's not something I've given a lot of thought about." Nolan didn't rule out a sequel immediately after releasing "Inception," and now he's had more than a decade to dream up ideas for it.

What could be explored in the sequel?

The biggest challenge facing a potential sequel to "Inception" is the story. The original is a sprawling, action-filled epic, but at its center is Cobb, a man who desperately wants to reunite with his children. Cobb's emotional journey through the film is really what makes "Inception" work so well, but it's also something that a sequel would have difficulty returning to. Cobb's story is all but finished at the end of the first movie, and catching up with him some time after it would spoil its much-discussed ambiguity.

A new movie would have to create a brand new character with an ewmotional arc just as compelling as Cobb's. Luckily, there are a million different plots that could take place in a world of shared dreaming and elite corporate spies. The easiest direction to take would be making the sequel a prequel. Such a film could explore how Cobb's companions got into the business, or even show us the history of shared dreaming itself. In the first movie, Arthur briefly mentions that the technology was originally developed by the military — there must be a story in that history worth telling.

A more forward-marching sequel could follow what Cobb's associates are up to after their big mission in the first movie. It could be even easier to tiptoe around spoiling the ending of "Inception" if such a sequel followed Saito, the CEO who hired Cobb, as he gathers a new team for another mission.

Who would star in the sequel?

"Inception" has a stellar cast, but not everyone would be likely to return for a sequel. Cobb, for one, would likely be left out of a follow-up story, as his journey is over and done with. That might rule out an appearance from Leonardo DiCaprio, but some of the other stars from "Inception" have previously commented on the potential for a sequel.

In an interview with MTV back in 2010, Dileep Rao, who played Yusuf the chemist, seemed open to a sequel, saying, "That's up to Chris. If we're talking about dreams, couldn't anything happen?" Cillian Murphy, who played Cobb's target Robert Fischer, was a bit more cagey, saying, "I don't have the authority to speak on that." In a 2011 episode of "Chatty Man," Tom Hardy, who played Eames, told Alan Carr that the entire cast had signed deals for a sequel, but added, "Nowadays you sign sequel deals for anything that you do."

It seems more than likely that a sequel to "Inception" would delve into a story entirely separate from the original, and would, by necessity, introduce an entirely new cast. However, even though his answer was a bit dismissive, if what Hardy said is true, that means anyone from the original film could potentially show up for the next story. Fans would just need to cross their fingers that they'd all return for more than a cameo.

Could Inception work as a video game?

Could you imagine one of Christopher Nolan's movies as a video game? Obviously, there have been Batman games galore, but none of them are explicitly based on Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy. Does this mean the director's films simply aren't suited to the medium? Not exactly. The one Nolan movie that almost got a playable adaptation was "Inception."

In an interview with Geoff Keighley, Nolan said, "We went fairly far down the road with it." He didn't elaborate on what that means, exactly, but at the very least, we know that he was interested in having the movie turned into a game, and it's possible he was even speaking with a developer about getting the job done. It's pretty easy to imagine an action game about dream heisting being a fantastic time, so what happened?

Making a movie is difficult. As Nolan remarked, however, "Making video games is even more complicated, and it takes even longer." Nolan didn't want an "Inception" game to just be a cheap tie-in with the film. He wanted the game done right, and because he was so preoccupied with making the movie in the first place, that's where he decided to put all of his energy. Maybe someday, Nolan will return to the video game industry, and we'll finally get the "Inception" game of our dreams.

Fans are ready for more

The stars of "Inception" were all ready to take on a sequel. Studios wanted it to happen, and Nolan himself wasn't opposed to the idea. There's one other group that desperately wanted a sequel after the movie debuted and whose enthusiasm for the possibility hasn't gone away: the fans. For more than a decade, fans have discussed and dissected the film's ending and the deeper meaning of its events. The best sign that there's still a major appetite for more "Inception" is that these devotees still crop up, whenever Nolan releases a new movie.

When "Tenet" was being marketed, Nolan fans were thrilled that he was returning to sci-fi after taking a break from the genre with "Dunkirk." Some people even thought that "Tenet" might be a secret sequel to Nolan's 2010 hit; the rumors were so rampant that star John David Washington had to address them. "I'd say ['Tenet'] is an in-law to 'Inception,'" he told IndieWire. Nolan may have other priorities, like dealing with his apparent fascination with World War II, but fans are clearly ready for another adventure through the dreamscape.