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Jumanji: How Robin Williams' Character Ties Into the Sequel

By Blair Marnell

Jumanji: How Robin Williams' Character Ties Into the Sequel

The late Robin Williams had no shortage of iconic and beloved films to his name when he passed away three years ago, but very few of his movies could easily be remade without him. Who but Williams could possibly portray Mrs. Doubtfire so convincingly? And for our money, Williams’ Popeye was just about as perfect casting as it gets. 

Jumanji is getting a sequel this year with a brand new cast and characters. In the original film, Williams played Alan Parrish, a child who spent three decades trapped in the Jumanji board game’s alternate world before he managed to escape. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle picks up at least two decades later, and it turns out that Williams’ character will have a role in it, even though we won’t actually see him. 

During a set visit, Collider spoke with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’s leading actress, Karen Gillan, and she offered up a taste of how Williams’ character will influence the outcome. “Well, I’ve always wondered where Robin Williams’ character went for all of that time in the first one,” said Gillan. “It was sort of left to the imagination a little. That’s where this film comes in, we get to see exactly where he went and what it feels like and what it looks like I guess that’s the biggest difference.”

In the original story, Alan basically became a wild man while struggling to survive in the world of Jumanji. The implication of Gillan’s comments is that Alan’s habitat, tools, and other signs of his presence were not lost when Alan escaped the game and essentially rebooted his own personal timeline. At the conclusion, Alan was sent back to his younger self’s body with full memories of his time in the game, and he prevented the tragedy that took the lives of Judy and Peter Shepherd’s parents.  

For the new movie, Gillan’s character is actually an avatar for Martha Schwartz, a young girl who is sucked into a video game version of Jumanji alongside three of her friends and classmates. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart are playing the avatars of the other kids, and their quest is almost the reversal of the original film. That story featured the game breaking into the real world, while the sequel is all about the escape from Jumanji.

That’s where we think that Alan will play a critical role in the new movie. As someone who lived in Jumanji for 30 years, he probably knew that jungle better than anyone. And he may have also found the clues that will eventually let the new kids make their way home. In a roundabout way, that would actually make Alan the hero of both the first film and its sequel. That would certainly be a fitting tribute to Williams. There’s also a rumor, via io9, that Alan explored multiple Jumanji worlds during his time in the game. We’re not sure how that would play out, but it does leave the door open for more sequels. 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was directed by Jake Kasdan, and it will stampede into theaters on December 20. 

Images: Sony Pictures