WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, now playing in theaters
As one of the most iconic comedies of the 1980s, elements from Ghostbusters have become undeniable pieces of pop culture, with many returning elements appearing in the modern sequel to the film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. But there's one major aspect of the series that gets briefly highlighted for just how dangerous it really is.
The Proton Packs return in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, this time ending up in children's care and proving just how dangerous the device really is in the wrong hands.
The Proton Packs were introduced in the first Ghostbusters and have become one of the most iconic elements of the franchise. An invention of Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) and Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), the Proton Pack is a powerful tool that allows humans to counteract the supernatural energy of ghosts. The backpack-shaped device produces a powerful Proton Stream that can harm and constrain ghosts long enough for them to be contained within the traps also invented by the pair. However, this Proton Stream also has the potential to do a lot of damage to anything else caught in the line of fire, effectively working as a destructive laser beam against anything corporeal.
In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) ends up repairing one of the Proton Packs left behind in her grandfather's farm (with some ghostly help from Egon in the process). Eventually, she and Podcast (Logan Kim) decide to test it out and create a miniature shooting range out of discarded bottles. The Proton Pack works when she activates it, and she quickly destroys the target instead of just hitting the bottles. However, instead of taking the time to experiment and practice more, the pair quickly try to use the Proton Pack and a Trap against the ghostly Muncher -- failing and sending the entity through the town of Summerville in a panic. Following the ghost along with Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) in the repaired Ecto-1, the group tries to use their Proton Packs against the spirit again.
But doing so in a populated area results in the three delivering an unexpected amount of damage to the town. The Proton Stream cuts through buildings and causes minor explosions as they drive by, with the energy beam causing thousands of dollars worth of damages across the town's main street before they follow Muncher into a more remote location where they can actually catch him.
With that in mind, it's not surprising in the slightest that Sheriff Domingo (Bokeem Woodbine) promptly has the trio arrested for their "joyride," commenting on the sheer amount of damage they brought to the town in a single afternoon. And the thing is -- Domingo is completely right to bring up the issue of children with super-dangerous weapons in their hands, even if he doesn't understand the context of why they have them.
The Proton Pack is honestly one of the more dangerous weapons in modern cinema, a portable laser beam that's capable of cutting through various stones, bricks and buildings with ease. Phoebe even threatens Sheriff Domingo with hers in the police station, which is more or less comparable to pointing a loaded gun at his face. It's ultimately a good thing Egon and Ray kept their tool out of the hands of others, as it could have easily become a very dangerous weapon. A world where the military invested in the Proton Packs and brought the device to the battlefield would likely leave a ravaged and ruined landscape, with the design being straightforward enough for a child to effectively repair and utilize their own deadly weapon with ease.
To see the Proton Pack in action, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is in theaters now.
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