Going with a shared cinematic universe approach has arguably been one of the best ideas to come out of Hollywood in the last decade. Marvel Studios, of course, kicked it all off with a post-credits scene in 2008’s Iron Man, where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) turned up in Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) mansion to say, “You think you’re the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you’ve become part of a bigger universe.” By Fury telling Stark he was there to talk with him about the Avengers Initiative, the MCU was born.
Following the success of the Superman reboot Man of Steel in 2013, DC got in on the act last year with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, setting the stage for Wonder Woman in June and the debut of Justice League later this year. Seeing an opportunity, Disneynature has rolled out a parody of the MCU and DCEU with a cinematic universe of its own to promote the April 21st release of its nature documentary Born in China.
The parody debuted in a Disneynature tweet about the Panda documentary Saturday, where narrator John Krasinski explains the how cinematic universes work:
“You may not realize it, but there is a BIGGER cinematic universe unfolding all around you … Disneynature’s Born in China is the latest installment in the DNCU.”
The video then shows “thrilling” footage of a panda eating bamboo, countered by a clip “at the same moment” in Disneynature’s African Cats, where a pair of lion cubs are cuddling with their mother. The clip then cuts back to see how the panda “reacts” to the footage of the cubs.
Fans of Krasinski from The Office already know that the actor is a gifted comedian, so his enthusiasm alone describing the footage is enough for a laugh. But when the clips plays out, it makes you realize the idea of the shared cinematic universes highlighting animals in the wild is pretty clever. And while the footage from either documentary may not be as action-packed as a trailer from Justice League or any Avengers movie, Krasinski does make a valid point with the idea that nature is indeed always unfolding around us in different parts of the world.
Of course, since Disney owns the MCU, it only made sense with Disneynature to push it’s panda documentary with a parody of something that’s part of the movie family, rather than using something from Paramount/DreamWork’s Kung Fu Panda trilogy. That just would have been too obvious. Whatever film series Disneynature parodies in the future, you have to admit this playful take on the MCU and DCEU was a wild idea that pays off.