After The Avengers scored $1.5 billion in global box office ticket sales, not to mention boosting interest and potential revenues for future standalone Marvel Studios films, the “shared universe” franchise format has become one of Hollywood’s biggest buzzwords. DC Entertainment will debut their own shared universe story in the Man of Steel sequel with Batman and Wonder Woman set to appear, and subsequently, spin-off into solo films. Not to mention, similar efforts are underway at 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures.
Of course, shared universes aren’t limited to comic book adaptations, for example, the Paranormal Activity spin-off, The Marked Ones, blew the door wide open to a much larger (and carefully connected) franchise storyline. Since this trend is unlikely to stop anytime soon, we culled through famous (real) crossovers to highlight 10 that a) we want to see and b) could provide a fun shared cinematic universe experience over multiple movie installments.
Before we list our picks for shared movie universes we want to see, we need to highlight several in-development projects that could lead to cinematic crossovers. Like the rest of our list, the match ups on this page exist in other mediums but these crossovers have actually been teased as possibilities by filmmakers:
– Jack Ryan/John Clark (Rumored) – Kevin Costner’s Shadow Recruit character, Harper, was rumored to appear in the John Clark (another Tom Clancy character) movie Without Remorse.
– Fantastic Four/X-Men (Possible) – Mark Millar has teased the possibility of a Fantastic Four/X-Men crossover but maintains nothing is “planned” at this point.
– Venom/Spider-Man (Happening) – Sony confirmed their intention to create a Spider-Man shared universe with a Venom standalone movie and Sinister Six team-up.
Subsequent entries on our list could happen (some are more likely than others) but, for the time being, none of them have been reported by official sources.
First Appearance: Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator (2000) limited series published by Dark Horse Comics.
Original Story Summary: Annalee Call (the Winona Ryder character from Alien Resurrection) reunites with Ellen Ripley Clone #8 to investigate a military operation that seeks to create hybrid-alien warriors (utilizing SkyNet technology) – in the process, the pair encounter a team of Predators that have been tasked with stopping the super soldier program at all costs.
Why It Could Work: Despite fun source material, the Alien versus Predator films have been pretty disappointing – with mostly underwhelming hand-to-hand fights between the two extraterrestrial species. What better way to mix-up the formula than adding Terminators into the next crossover? SkyNet’s futuristic weaponry would provide a stiff challenge for even the toughest Predator (and/or largest alien swarm).
First Appearance: Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash (2007) limited series published by Wildstorm.
Original Story Summary: Trapped inside the mind of Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger tricks Jason into finding and opening the Necronomicon – which Ash Williams has been guarding nearby. While Freddy distracts Ash (and his teenage friends) in their sleep, Jason secures the Necronomicon – allowing Krueger to regain his full power and forcing a final showdown between the three scary movie icons.
Why It Could Work: There were plenty of eye-rolling character moments in Freddy vs. Jason but the crossover offered a crowd-pleasing showdown between two of horror’s biggest names. Adding Ash Williams (played by fan-favorite Bruce Campbell) could improve the main human character story, while supplying another beloved combatant for audiences to cheer on.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #572 – 50th Anniversary Special (1987) published by DC Comics.
Original Story Summary: When Edgar Moriarty attempts to perfect his great-grandfather’s most dangerous invention, “The Doomsday Book,” Batman, Robin, Slam Bradley and Elongated Man travel to London to investigate. In order to save Queen Elizabeth II the heroes team with John Watson’s granddaughter, Mary, and Sherlock Holmes – who is still alive at age 135 (thanks to pure Tibetan air and a healthy diet).
Why It Could Work: Certain iterations of Batman focus more on the superhero’s brawn, instead of his brains, but he isn’t called “The World’s Greatest Detective” for no reason. A modern and self-absorbed Sherlock (like one played by Benedict Cumberbatch) would be an engaging foil for the Caped Crusader, especially if filmmakers went for a darker tale of cat-and-mouse with an equally brainy (albeit brutal) villain – such as The Riddler or Calendar Man.
First Appearance: Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 (2012) limited series published by IDW.
Original Story Summary: The Doctor (along with Amy Pond and Rory Williams) cross universes, materializing inside the Enterprise-D on star date 45635.2 – as Captain Picard and his crew battle a combined Borg and Cyberman force. When the Cybermen betray their allies, the Doctor and the Enterprise crew forge a cautious partnership with the Borg – in order to rid the universe of the escalating Cyberman threat.
Why It Could Work: The Doctor has previously landed in alternate universes, and paired with his ability to travel anywhere in time and space (via the TARDIS), why not have him show up in the Star Trek universe? Modern updates to both classic sci-fi series (i.e. the Doctor Who relaunch and Star Trek “reboot” movies) have garnered record-breaking TV and box office numbers – meaning this crossover wouldn’t just be fun, it could also be very profitable.
First Appearance: G.I. Joe and the Transformers (1986) limited series published by Marvel Comics.
Original Story Summary: After a deadly misunderstanding between the Autobots and Joes, Cobra and the Decepticons team-up to capture Power Station Alpha from U.S. control. However, when Serpentor discovers that Shockwave and the Decepticons intend to use the mobile nuclear power plant to destroy the Earth, and regain control of Cybertron, Cobra joins forces with a combined G.I. Joe and Autobot squad to save the world.
Why It Could Work: Producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura might currently be resistant to the idea but an Autobot/Joe team-up could easily cull blockbuster ticket sales. A crossover might also solve one of the flagship Transformers franchise’s biggest problems – substituting pedestrian human stories (i.e. Witwicky goes to college) that don’t fit with world-ending threats for slick Joe characters and military drama. A shared universe could even help improve interest in the G.I. Joe brand – which has yet to reach mega-success in theaters.
First Appearance: The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (1982) animated film.
Original Story Summary: Following the events of The Grinch that Stole Christmas, the Grinch is confronted by an evil version of himself in the mirror – who forces him to recite the “Grinches’ Oath.” Returning to his malevolent ways, the Grinch has a chance encounter with the Cat in the Hat and subsequently torments the anthropomorphic feline with a gloom-spreading (and reality-bending) “Darkhouse.”
Why It Could Work: Even though the Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat is a bizarre (albeit beloved) animated mash-up, the collected works of Dr. Seuss provide fertile ground for shared universe adventuring. Plenty of fan-favorite stories (Green Eggs and Ham or One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish) won’t be able to sustain standalone movies but could be fun inclusions for both kids and adults in a larger storyline (such as Oh, The Places You’ll Go!).
First Appearance: Half-Life 2: Episode Two (2007) and Portal (2007) video games developed by Valve Software.
Original Story Summary: As corporate rivals Black Mesa and Aperture Science raced to unlock portal technology in the early 2000s, the former’s success opened the door for the Combine alien invasion, while the latter’s facilities were overrun by murderous AI, GLaDOS. With Gordon Freeman fighting outside and Chell busy escaping the evil AI, the pair haven’t crossed paths.
Why It Could Work: The Portal and Half-Life series have pushed the boundaries of narrative stories in video games – with a number of memorable characters and immersive places to explore. A rich mythology, coupled with captivating visuals aesthetics, would make for a quality live-action sci-fi experience – one that, with a few alterations to the timeline, would be especially fun should Chell and Freeman join forces with their iconic weapons (the portal and gravity gun, respectively) to take down Combine and Aperture antagonists.
First Appearance: JLA/Avengers (2003) limited series co-published by DC and Marvel Comics.
Original Story Summary: In an attempt to spare the Marvel Universe from destruction at the hands of exiled Oan, Krona, The Grandmaster strikes a deal to pit his own enemies, The Avengers, against the Justice League. However, when Batman and Captain America disrupt The Grandmaster’s game, existence is dramatically altered – compelling The Justice League and The Avengers to cooperate before the merged reality rips both universes to shreds.
Why It Could Work: What’s bigger than a Marvel or DC superhero team-up film? Answer: a Marvel and DC crossover film that sees the superhero teams battling to save their respective universes. In addition to fun match-ups like Superman vs. Thor, Wonder Woman vs. Scarlett Witch, and Aquaman vs. The Hulk, it’s inevitable that the story would eventually see the Justice League and The Avengers put aside their differences and join forces in a mega-hero team-up to take down a shared villain threat.
First Appearance: King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) feature film.
Original Story Summary: A Japanese businessman, Mr. Tako, orders the kidnapping of (an intoxicated) King Kong from Faro Island and, around the same time, a submarine crashes into an iceberg that had been housing Godzilla, freeing the monster. In an effort to prevent Godzilla from destroying coastal cities in Japan, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces flies King Kong to the lizard’s location – for a monster versus monster fight to the death.
Why It Could Work: The King Kong vs. Godzilla story is ridiculous, but with the right script, a shared universe between Peter Jackson and Gareth Edwards’ more realistic iterations of the movie monsters could deliver eye-popping big screen spectacle. After all, Godzilla is expected to fight other creatures in the 2014 reboot – why not include King Kong? The new Godzilla would dwarf the giant ape, but size isn’t always an advantage – especially for an intelligent simian that once took down three Vastatosaurus Rex in one bout.
First Appearance: Power Rangers in Space (1998) season 1, episode 3 “Save our Ship.”
Story Summary: Villainous Astronema brainwashes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (including female fifth turtle, Venus de Milo) who subsequently convince the Space Rangers to allow them onto the Megaship. Once aboard the Turtles attempt to sabotage the ship but the Rangers successfully reverse the brainwashing spell – so that the heroic teams can work together to defeat their shared enemy.
Why It Could Work: Power Rangers and TMNT have plenty in common: both teams are proficient in cheesy one-liners and martial arts – battling campy mutant creatures in order to protect Earth. After all, the Ninja Turtles reboot almost made the heroes aliens from an alternate dimension – why not just make them inhabitants of Samurai World (a Power Rangers dimension)? Then we could provide the Turtles with a shell-inspired combiner mech! Might be a worthy tradeoff, right?
There are plenty of real crossovers that would make great shared movie universes (that we didn’t have a chance to include) but here are two more:
– Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator (2007) limited series published by DC and Dark Horse Comics – A fun spinoff storyline but would we really want to see the DC Universe merged with the Alien and Predator universe?
– Archie Meets the Punisher (1994) one-off published by Marvel and Archie Comics – where the Punisher, pretending to be a gym teacher, mistakes Archie Andrews for a drug-dealing criminal named “Red.”
Our list is not all-inclusive, and we’re interested to hear which movie, TV, and comic book crossovers you’d like to see become a shared movie universe. Share your picks in the comments!
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