Disney fans rejoiced Thursday when it was announced that Wreck-It Ralph is officially getting a sequel, due to arrive in theaters on March 9, 2018. But what about those who haven’t seen the colorful animation, adrenaline-pumping action, and tearjerking emotional moments of the first film? As Ralph himself exemplifies: It’s never too late to turn things around.
Before Ralph wrecks the internet in Wreck-It Ralph 2, let’s revisit the 2012 original and all the moments that made it so memorable.
Meet Wreck-It Ralph, the hulking video game villain who terrorizes the world of the arcade game Fix-It Felix, Jr.
But Ralph is only a bad guy when he’s on the clock. When the arcade closes down, Ralph is a sweetheart just trying to connect with his fellow video game characters. Unfortunately, the other characters in his game, including the titular Fix-It Felix, Jr., shun Ralph for being a villain.
Feeling upset and undervalued, Ralph attends a support group for video game villains, including the likes of famous digital baddies Bowser, Dr. Robotnik, and more. He reveals that he wants to change his story and become a hero rather than a villain.
Under the assumption that getting a medal will earn him the respect of his fellow Fix-It Felix, Jr. characters, Ralph heads into the Call of Duty-esque war game Hero’s Duty to try to find one.
In the dangerous new game, Ralph meets the authoritative, takes-no-prisoners Sergeant Calhoun, and breaks away from her group to try to steal a medal that he sees atop a tower.
After Ralph gets the medal, an escape pod launches Ralph (and an undesirable Cy-Bug passenger) out of Hero’s Duty and into the candy-coated world of the racing game Sugar Rush, where he meets a sarcastic little girl named Vanellope.
Like Ralph, Vanellope has been bullied by her fellow video game characters, who shun her because she tends to “glitch” — that is, her body will flash or disappear and reappear in nearby places. Vanellope steals Ralph’s medal to enter Sugar Rush’s titular race.
Ralph also meets the jovial but unsettlingly short-tempered ruler of the Sugar Rush land, King Candy.
Ralph needs to Vanellope to win the race so he can get his medal back, so he helps build her a go-kart. The two outcasts train together, and Vanellope discovers that she is actually quite gifted at driving.
Meanwhile, Felix sets out to find Ralph because his game will be shut down without an antagonist, and he meets up with Calhoun, who’s hunting down the Cy-Bug that escaped Hero’s Duty on Ralph’s escape pod. Immediately, Felix falls for the hardened military commander.
The morning of the race, King Candy tells Ralph that if Vanellope wins, she’ll be playable when the arcade opens. If she glitches, players will think the game is broken, and it will be unplugged. But while the other racers can leave the game before it’s unplugged, a glitch like Vanellope can’t; she would die inside the game.
And proving he’s more sour than sweet, King Candy interferes with Felix’s mission to find Ralph and throws the handyman in his prison.
Thinking that he is protecting her, Ralph wrecks Vanellope’s cart and departs from Sugar Rush. But after seeing Vanellope’s picture on the side of the arcade console, Ralph realizes she’s not an error; she was supposed to be part of the game the whole time. He returns to encourage her to race with a new cart.
In the big race, Vanellope pulls ahead of King Candy, much to his shock.
But the evil ruler then reveals himself to be Turbo, the main character of a vintage racing game that hasn’t been active in the arcade for years. Since getting unplugged, Turbo has inserted himself into different games and attempted to sabotage them out of jealousy. Turbo is consumed by one of the Cy-Bugs, which then becomes a horrifying Turbo abomination, threatening Vanellope and Ralph.
Knowing the only way to defeat the Cy-bugs is by creating a beacon — basically a giant pillar that draws them in like a bug zapper — Ralph comes up with the plan to make Diet Cola Mountain erupt by shaking loose the Mentos stalactite within it. He falls through the air towards the mountain, intending to sacrifice himself for the cause.
Ralph manages to create the beacon that destroys the Cy-Bugs, and he is saved by Vanellope’s glitching abilities. Once Vanellope crosses the race track’s finish line, the game is reset, and everyone’s memory is restored; all of Sugar Rush remembers that that Vanellope is actually Princess Vanellope, their true ruler.
Now that you’re up to speed, head here to find out more about Wreck-It Ralph 2.