question of the day: Should ‘Inception’ get a sequel?

Today’s question comes from reader Lorenzo Lamas:

Should Inception get a sequel?

And I’ll add: What direction would a possible Inception sequel go in? Should we revisit Cobb to see how he’s faring after then end of the film? (I say no, to preserve the unanswered but intriguing questions raised by the ending.) How about letting Ariadne take over and demonstrating just how far futzing with the physics of a dream can take us?

If you need some reminders of what’s left up in the air in the film, visit Cinematical for Peter Hall’s rundown of six interpretations and five plot holes, and for an infographic on the film’s layers by artist Dehahs — Scott Weinberg says: “It’s like M.C. Escher was a movie nerd!”

Assume massive spoilers in both links above, and in the comments below. Have fun!

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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Wed, Jul 28, 2010 9:47am

No. No. No. No. No. A million times, no.

Classic stories that have logical endpoints do not require sequels. See also: Blade Runner, Fight Club, Nolan’s Memento, etc. The story has been told and is over. Let it go.

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 9:52am

I’m of the party who thinks that Cobb’s issues have been resolved. So if there is a sequel it would be with Ariande. In-story she’s described as grokking the role of Dream Architect much faster than anyone else and probably has a few crazy ideas of her own to try out.

This could be a surrealist-dream remake of the whole Mission: Impossible series. “Good evening, Ariande. Your mission, should you choose to accept it…” And then rounding up a team consisting of Arthur, Eames, and new cast member Dev Patel as a rookie Extractor with a hidden agenda…

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 9:58am

A friend suggested that maybe instead of a sequel it could be adapted into a TV series. And while I think a sequel or this TV series is a bad idea, it’s intriguing nonetheless. Maybe for the TV series follow another team as they try to go to people’s dream every week. That could work, but it’s still tricky since we’re shown in the movie that the act of “inception” is so complicated and difficult that it really was a one-off thing. So either change the title of the TV series (which I’m sure they wouldn’t want to do) or undercut the specialness of the inception mission from the movie.

But back to a possible sequel… it IS tough especially considering that ending. The ambiguity of the ending is what is fueling lots of watercooler conversations so to have a sequel that would potentially give us “answers” would cheapen the first film. Then again if Chris Nolan wants to do a sequel, then there’s no reason to not to trust him.

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 10:59am

Consider the hierarchy of interpretation for the film. If the base layer is to be taken literally, then the story is about people who can enter and adjust another person’s thoughts through his or her dreams. Then, weave your way through the other metaphorical avenues, sorting out the meanings of characters as still real entities within the story, while questioning which elements of the film require suspension of disbelief. Finally, you reach the summit of Inception’s purpose as a brilliant and entertaining analogy of the filmmaking process.

Abiding by this last interpretation precludes approaching the ostensible story as a tenable reality. In other words, a sequel can’t ignore the non-reality of the characters and their situations. (I love, by the way, how Inception forces me to defend other movie realities as more real in their own context.) Ignorance is bliss. If I wasn’t aware of this meta-context about the film, I could happily accept a television series about dream stealers. But, I have eaten the forbidden fruit. I would now demand that any continuation of the story include at least a winking acknowledgment of its reality as metaphor.

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 11:01am

No because I don’t want them to explain anything.

On the other hand, Nolan has spent a lot of time setting up this universe – we know the rules now. How about seeing another team in the same world – that would be interesting. I don’t want to see any recurring characters because, as it stands, how do we know that any of them are real?

Matt C
Matt C
Wed, Jul 28, 2010 12:19pm

No. It’s the sort of film that’s a one-off. Now if Chris Nolan decided to do one that focused on Aradne, Eames or James — I’d be interested.

Cillian Murphy and Leonardo DiCaprio refused to discuss any possibility of sequels (or if they think the ending was in the real world or not).

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 2:08pm

Heck, no! The movie is fine as is. A sequel would just look like a cash in, and cheapen the ending of the original. Not to say that I wouldn’t like to see more stories about working in peoples dreams. There’s just so much potential for awesomeness.
I still say leave it alone. I love all the discussion this movie has brought about. Exactly what movies should do instead of being forgotten the second you leave the theater.

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 4:26pm

I like the idea of a TV series (or at least mini-series) as well as focusing on Ariande. What if she were to create her own team? The basic concept itself – entering dreams to steal or implant ideas – is fascinating and you can spin a lot of neat plot ideas out of it.

Now, who would back the cost of such a high-fx / high-intelligence show… ? Hey, SyFy could use some more intelligent programming (and less crap like “Mary Knows Best.”)

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 7:34pm


Well, I’m in the camp that says we didn’t see one moment of reality in the movie, that everything was a dream. There were too many literally unbelievable events for the “real” scenes to actually have been real. Nolan is not that much of a hack to create these idiotic events in reality, so to me it’s clearly yet another dream level. So what could a sequel give up? Cobb finally wakes up? Then what? We find out his entire family was dead already and his only hold on them is when he is dreaming? Or that there is no such thing as entering other person’s dreams, that this was just his imaginative dream creating this world? A sequel would be pointless.

Besides, Nolan made his point already. This movie is merely a metaphor about the creative process (specifically in his case movie making) and how an artist plants ideas in the audience. What would there be to say in a sequel other than to create more adventure stories in this dream world that no longer carry any deeper meaning?

Heh, sounds just like Hollywood, actually. But not like Nolan.

Thu, Jul 29, 2010 5:40pm

I like the last comment. I’m going to share my idea for a sequel…

The second movie should start 8 years later with a guy giving DiCaprio a new dream disc of his children. The whole last movie was a dream, and Dicaprio was actually used, as a tool, while asleep, to create an elaborate/engaging reality in the dream world, to create inception like we saw in the movie. How can an IV cause people to share dreams? How can time slow by going deeper into subconscious? These things were dreamt up by Dicaprio instead of being real…

In the real world they were actually hooked up with needles going from the top of their eyes into their brains (how else can dreams be shared?)… and most of his team (except his best friend) actually knew Dicaprio was dreaming. They were caught by Cobasys before the first movie even started and the Japanese guy decided to use them to do inception (while they were asleep).

After Inception of the Japanese guy’s competitor, he puts Dicaprio in an institution living his dream out with his children. The technology for dream-constructing has been improved the last 8 years(that’s why they have dream discs).

But now this dream disc this scientist is putting in is faulty. It causes deja vu in the dream. It also gives Dicaprio clues. Soon he questions “why haven’t my children aged”… he goes back to the room he put down his spinning thing in his dream, and sees it’s still spinning. This allows him to wake up for real. He wakes up in a hospital bed, barely able to move.

He then proceeds to break out of the medical institution he’s in by using clues that were in the dream disc. When he gets out, he finds his friend was the one who smuggled in the modified dream disc into the hospital that eventually made him wake up, and now they plan their revenge against the Japanese guy (who is actually now the most powerful man in the world, by influencing politicians, business guys, and anyone in his way with dreams – over the last 8 years).

All this could happen in the first 20 minutes of the movie. I could keep on going… but Hollywood should pay me first.