When Dom Cobb rejoined his children and spun that almost-instantly iconic totem to see if he was still in a dream or if his “reality” was now, well, real, we were treated with one of cinema’s great “what-ifs”. Did the top teeter for just a second in the end? Did it continue spinning on and on into infinity meaning Cobb was still very much in a dream world? We never knew and that made it such a great movie moment, one that left the door open for Inception 2.
The mystery surrounding the end of Christopher Nolan’s Inception and the great need to “know” all when it comes to movies has led to years of speculation around whether we’d ever get Inception 2. On the one hand, it feels like a movie begging for another story, a new look into the fascinating world of dreams come to life. But at the same time, the mysterious ending was also perfect in its own right. It spoke to the true questions of the film about whether one was asleep or awake, could you ever prove it one way or the other and whether it really mattered at all.
More than a decade has passed since Inception first hit theaters and sequel rumors have been hanging around almost the entire time. Will Inception 2 ever happen?
Has Inception 2 Already Been Made?
Let’s start with Tenet, director Christopher Nolan’s most recent film which, after a pandemic-related delay, is set to release later this month on July 31st.
Original speculation around Tenet had it as something of a de facto sequel or at least spiritual companion to Inception. From the trailers, it’s easy to see why it could be viewed as Inception 2. Tenet appears to include many of the same brain-bending, mind turning action sets we saw in the original, placing the characters in a world where the traditional rules around things like gravity aren’t adhered to. In fact quite the opposite, in Nolan’s worlds those rules were meant to be broken.
While Tenet is still shrouded in mystery, it doesn’t have any of the same characters and appears to explore questions around time and time travel rather than the dream world. From that standpoint, though early secrecy led to some hoping it would be the Inception 2 we dreamed of, it is in fact very much a stand-alone film or tangentially related at best.
John David Washington, the lead in Tenet, would only say it was an “in-law” to Inception but made it pretty clear that the movie isn’t an official sequel. This is a step down from Nolan actually giving us the official word, but considering Washington is one of the few with the full scope of the movie, taking his word for it here makes enough sense.
What we could be seeing is a series of movies related and connected enough through style, feel, and maybe even a shared world that though an Inception 2 isn’t in the works, the various Nolan movies work together to fit a similar theme.
In Chis Nolan’s world this makes a lot more sense than a strict return to a previous cast and storyline. Though he has the Dark Knight trilogy which had obvious reasons for a continued storyline and arc around an iconic character, none of his other films have garnered sequels.
In fact, Nolan’s continued exploration of time and bending reality make it seem like strict sequels from here on out would be unlikely. While other storytellers have a prescriptive view of time (and why wouldn’t they, it is something of a constant), Nolan’s particular brand of movie works to rethink everything you know. Tenet deals with inversion, or the ability to move time backward as the new reality. With that in mind, maybe we should be asking about an Inception prequel or companion arc rather than an Inception 2 picking up of where Cobb’s spinning top left off.
As it stands, while many hoped Tenet would be Inception 2, that seems to not be the case. There is nothing official, or even really unofficial out there concerning plans for an Inception 2. This isn’t to say we can completely write off the idea, but judging by the landscape of Christopher Nolan’s work, I wouldn’t hold out much hope here. I think we’ve seen the last of the dream world and instead can should look forward to other elements of Nolan’s genius creative process.