Did Happy Death Day 2U beat Avengers: Endgame to the punch with its time-displacement story? On paper, the latest low-budget offering from Blumhouse and the epic culmination of the past 11 years of the MCU don't have anything in common, but if you analyze their stories (or, in the Marvel case, what little is known of the story), there are some intriguing parallels.
Happy Death Day 2U continues the time loop narrative trick of the original, only this time introduces parallel universes. It's revealed early on that Tree's (Jessica Rothe) entire predicament is a result of Ryan's (Phi Vo) science project malfunctioning, and when an attempt to fix it goes wrong, she's sent to live out the same day again - only this time in an alternate world where her mother's alive and her boyfriend is going out with her best frenemy. What follows is a repeated journey back through the events of the previous movie as the gang attempt to fix the machine and revert things to how they were before the whole ordeal, all while Tree wrestles with whether she really wants to go back. The premise is directly credited as a Back to the Future Part II homage, although it shares DNA with another movie.
Straight up, we know very little official about Avengers: Endgame's story: Captain America has a plan to avert Thanos' snap from the end of Avengers: Infinity War, Tony Stark and Nebula are trapped in space, and that's about it. But thanks to a variety of set photos, rumors and merchandise, we have a fair idea of what's really going on. The movie will see some or all of the surviving Avengers travel back in time - likely through use of the Quantum Realm - to revisit their past victories (evidence so far points towards at the least The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and one of the Thor films). Essentially, this is a repeated journey back through the events of the previous movies as the Avengers attempt to revert things to whole they were before the whole ordeal began. Sound familiar?
The similarities in the broad strokes are quite clear. Both Happy Death Day 2U and (we assume) Avengers: Endgame are stories where characters revisit the events of their earlier films in their respective series (albeit with a twist) as they attempt to use pseudo-science to stop something fantastically bad that's already happened. Given how many expect Endgame to see the snap averted entirely, the films could even have the same locked time loop ending (and you know Endgame will have a post-credits scene teasing the future). The parallels could go even deeper than that; in Happy Death Day 2U, one of Tree's biggest conflicts is whether to stay or go, while a popular fan theory has Captain America likewise faced with a choice of being with the Avengers or lost love Peggy Carter.
Of course, this is all an accident. Happy Death Day 2U's writer/director Christopher Landon won't be privy to Marvel secrets, and neither will Kevin Feige be tuned into the horror sequels development. Indeed, as Happy Death Day 2 cites Back to the Future as an inspiration, this is really just a product of telling time travel stories; the desire to revisit and rewrite is baked into the appeal. When you do this in the framing of an already-successful story, it's inevitable to want to go back to what came before. It's really a more abstract version of the Twin Movie phenomenon, where two identically-premised films release in the same year.
Still, that doesn't take away from the humorous nature of two similar movies releasing within months of each other. That said, we'll have to wait until Avengers: Endgame releases in April to know just how close they really are.
- Happy Death Day 2U (2019) release date: Feb 14, 2019
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019