With its twenty-fifth birthday and its latest sequel both coming up this summer, I recently went back and rewatched the film Jurassic Park. It's obviously a beloved classic, and because of its success and popularity, all of its sequels have derived heavily from it. This includes featuring a lot of the same dinosaur species that appeared in the first film, but there's one species in particular that's been curiously absent in the sequels. That species is the Dilophosaurus.
The only thing I can figure is that the filmmakers were leery about featuring the species in the sequels. I have two theories for why that is.
1. Too Overpowering
The central conflict in the Jurassic Park series is Man versus Nature. It's about mankind having to use all of its technology and intellect in a struggle for control over forces of nature that it was never meant to exist alongside. If the writers routinely feature a dinosaur species that can launch projectile weapons from its mouth, then they're essentially giving the dinosaurs guns. That's pretty much the end of the story; evasion has always been the human characters' strongest survival tactic against the dinosaurs, and pitting them against a predator that can cause harm from a distance would rub out that advantage and probably take a lot of the tension and thrill out of those scenes.
Speaking of other species, you could argue that its abilities actually make Dilophosaurus more dangerous than the T-Rex or the Velociraptors. Once again, those species are only as deadly as their ability to catch people, and Dilophosaurus doesn't share that limitation. If the movies threw it into the mix more often, I think there'd be a real risk of it eventually overshadowing T-Rex and Velociraptor as the biggest threat in the narrative. In fact, one of the reasons why it had such a small role in the first film was so viewers wouldn't confuse it with the Velociraptors due to their similar size. Dilophosaurus was only meant to be a side attraction with a gimmick in the story, not a major player, so the screenwriters may have felt they were better off not using it anymore.
2. Too Inaccurate
I'm sure this is news to no one, but the Dilophosaurus in real life didn't have any of the frills of its movie counterpart -- so to speak. It didn't have a neck frill that it flashed to scare enemies, and it didn't spit venom. That was all creative licensing on the part of author Michael Crichton and the filmmakers behind Jurassic Park. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but because of the timing of the first film's release and its cultural impact, it shaped the way that a lot of people viewed dinosaurs back then. Unfortunately, this also meant that it gave those people a lot of misconceptions about dinosaurs, and paleontologists have been trying to set the record straight ever since.
To its credit, the series has tried to make its dinosaur designs a little more true to science since the first film. Most notably, it gave the Velociraptors feathers in the third film to reflect the discovery that raptors did have plumage in real life. It's possible that since a more realistic makeover for Dilophosaurus would involve stripping away all of the trademarks that the series gave it, the filmmakers may have just decided to not bring it back.
Whether or not these theories are correct, neither one seems to be the case anymore. Not only do we see a hologram of Dilophosaurus in the fourth film, but a tour video in that film mentions that the glass of the visitor vehicles is impervious to the predator's venom. This all seems to suggest that there is a Dilophosaurus exhibit in the newer park, or at least a Dilophosaurus population somewhere on the island. As if that isn't enough, it's now been confirmed that the species is supposed to finally make its comeback in the flesh in the upcoming fifth film.
It would be interesting to see if the new film addresses Dilophosaurus's absence up to this point. It might even be able to make an in-joke or two about the species, saying perhaps that their frills and venom came from an early gene splicing experiment and that the old park had actually lied about scientists believing they had those features. I have a feeling we won't get any explanation, but really, just getting to see Dilophosaurus onscreen again after a quarter of a century would be more than enough for a lot of Jurassic Park fans.
And if its comeback should turn out to be disappointing, don't worry. It will always have that one terrific moment in the film that started it all.
Goodbye, Newman. That's one magic loogie.