Ever since Tony Stark popped up, post-credits, at the end of The Incredible Hulk to tell Thaddeus Ross he was “putting a team together” we’ve gotten used to the idea of the ‘shared movie universe’. You’d be mistaken for thinking that Marvel created the concept though. The idea of characters from one movie sharing a reality with another has been around a lot longer than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and no, I’m not talking about the DCEU. Here are the movie universes you didn’t know about.
1. The View Askewniverse
The movies: Clerks (1994), Mallrats (1994), Chasing Amy (1997), Dogma (1999), Scream 3 (2000), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), Clerks II (2006)
The universe: Dubbed the ‘View Askewniverse’ (try saying that after a couple of vodkas) by fans of writer-director Kevin Smith, this six-film (and counting) series orbits around the characters of Jay and Silent Bob, but also includes Mallrats’ Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee), Chasing Amy’s Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck), and Clerks’ Dante and Randal, all of whom pop up for a brisk ‘hi’ in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back. And, although the movie’s not made by Smith’s View Askew team, Jay and Silent Bob do a brief turn in Scream 3, suggesting that Wes Craven’s horror quadrilogy is also part of the same universe.
What we’d have loved to have seen: Smith hasn’t made a View Askewniverse movie since 2006, but we’d love to see what the crew, including a by-now-middle-aged Jay and Silent Bob are up to. Smith has promised us a Jay and Silent Bob reboot movie, but then he promised us a Mallrats 2 and a Clerks III, only to see them perish in development hell.
2. The Tarantinoverse
The movies: Reservoir Dogs (1992), True Romance (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994)
The universe: Tarantino’s early films were meant to live in the same, cross-webbed movie universe. Alabama, Patricia Arquette’s character from True Romance, is referenced in Reservoir Dogs, while Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega was once meant to be Vic Vega, AKA Reservoir Dogs’ Mr Blonde, until Michael Madsen was forced to exit the movie because of a scheduling clash, thus making John Travolta the character's ill-fated brother.
What we’d have loved to have seen: At one point Tarantino was planning a Vega Brothers movie, featuring both Vic and Vincent, which would have made the connection between Tarantino’s first films satisfyingly official. Sadly, it’s way too late now.
3. The Star Wars/ET Universe
The movies: All the Star Wars movies (1977–2017), ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The universe: There are quite a few Star Wars easter eggs tucked away in Steven Spielberg’s movies (check out the nightclub name - Club Obi-Wan - in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and the C-3PO and R2-D2 hieroglyphics in Raiders of the Lost Ark), but when George Lucas repaid the favour in The Phantom Menace, it was more than just a sly wink. Look closely at one of the Senate scenes in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, and you’ll see three ET’s waving their arms, suggesting that Elliot’s extra-terrestrial mate had some very important ancestors in that galaxy far, far away.
What we’d have loved to have seen: Maybe Colin Trevorrow could make one of the ET’s a proper character in Star Wars 9? That alien design is too good to leave to just one movie.
4. The Elmore Leonardniverse
The movies: Jackie Brown (1997), Out of Sight (1998)
The universe: Jackie Brown is the only one of Quentin Tarantino’s movies to be adapted from a novel. Based on Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch, it features one-time Batman Michael Keaton in the role of FBI agent Ray Nicolette. He popped up again, uncredited this time, as the same character in the similarly Leonard-sourced Out of Sight. Although the rights were owned by Miramax and Tarantino, the director allowed Universal to use the character free of charge.
What we’d have loved to have seen: It would have been great if Ray Nicolette, still of course played by Michael Keaton, had been dropped into some other Leonard movies, such as Get Shorty or Be Cool.
5. The Landisverse
The movies: Trading Places (1983), Coming to America (1988)
The universe: It’s a punch-the-air moment at the end of Trading Places when the hissable Duke brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) find themselves conned out of their fortune by former protege Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and down and out hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy). Five years later, director John Landis and Murphy reteamed for the comedy Coming to America which contains a scene where Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem Joffer hands a wad of cash to a now homeless Mortimer Duke. Excitedly he nudges his brother awake, who then exclaims, “Mortimer, we’re back!”
What we’d have loved to have seen: Given that Eddie Murphy played both Billy Ray Valentine AND Prince Akeem Joffer, it would have been cool had one of the brothers said something like, “Isn’t that…? Nah!”
6. Universal Monsters
The movies: The Mummy (2017), The Invisible Man (TBA), The Wolfman (TBA), Van Helsing (TBA), Creature from the Black Lagoon (TBA), The Bride of Frankenstein (TBA)
The universe: Ignoring the witless Abbott and Costello movies where the comedy duo hooked up with Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr’s the Wolf Man, there wasn’t much of an attempt to stitch together Universal’s original run of monster movies in the 1930s and ‘40s. But now, in an golden era of shared universes, that’s very much the intention. Johnny Depp is lined up as the Invisible Man, Russell Crowe as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's monster, and they’ll all be taking their bows in the Tom Cruise-headlining The Mummy, coming later this year, before spinning off in their own movies.
What we’d love to see: We’re hoping once the individual movies are done (with a few cameos, naturally), that the series gets its own Avengers Assemble megamix.
7. The Monsterverse
The universe: Godzilla and Kong have hooked up before (most notably in 1962’s King Kong vs Godzilla), but never, until now, has there been an effort made to forge a cohesive universe for the monster titans. So far, the shared universe has been confined to a brief Godzilla mention at the end of this year’s Kong: Skull Island, but plans are afoot to have the two monsters square off against each other in 2020’s Godzilla vs. Kong.
What we’d love to see: We’d love to see the human characters from Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island meet up, though as Skull Island is set in the 1970s and Godzilla is set in the present day, maybe some ageing makeup might be called for.