Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War is a grandiose epic, "on a scale hitherto undreamt of." There's never been anything like this before. Nineteen films in ten years, all building up to one moment.
That moment, of course, is the sight of David Cross as Tobias Fünke, in full Blue Man Group cosplay and denim cutoffs, in The Collector's lair. Fans of directors Joe and Anthony Russo know that, before they signed up to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they were best known for their work on television comedies. Their credits include Community, Happy Endings and, indeed, Arrested Development, hence this otherwise absurd cameo.
The Russos have inserted allusions to their earlier work in MCU films in the past: Community actors Danny Pudi and Jim Rash had brief cameos in The Winter Soldier and Civil War, respectively, and Arrested Development's infamous stair car made a background appearance in Civil War. But this cameo is easily the best one yet, especially since it hints that Thanos might be something of a Netflix binge-watcher.
"Oh My God, We're Having A Fire! ...Sale."
Early on in the film, the Guardians of the Galaxy head to Knowhere to pick up the Reality Stone from The Collector, and find him being interrogated by Thanos, who seeks the stone for himself. Gamora springs into action and kills the Mad Titan, seemingly ending the main conflict of the movie in something of an anti-climax, something Star-Lord himself points out. During this sequence, Tobias can be fleetingly seen as part of The Collector's collection.
Of course, it's just a ruse. The whole scene was a feint by Thanos. With a wave of his hand, he reveals that everything the Guardians saw – The Collector, dead Thanos, Tobias, and the entirety of Knowhere, was actually an illusion conjured by the Reality Stone. In truth, the lair is in ruins, and Knowhere is on fire. Behind the shock of the revelation, one question remains: was Tobias actually a prize of The Collector, or was he just part of Thanos' ploy with the Reality Stone?
"I'm Afraid I Just Blue Myself"
There are two canon possibilities: either Tobias somehow ended up in The Collector's stash, or Thanos created him using the Reality Stone. Fünke possesses several traits which would make him desirable to someone like The Collector, who searches the universe for obscure oddities to add to his house of collection.
For one, Tobias is a Never-Nude. He is one of the precious few ("There are dozens of us!") who possess the distinct psychological inability to ever be completely naked, and he protects his nudity with a pair of Daisy Duke-style denim cut-off shorts. Furthermore, Tobias possesses skills as an analyst and a therapist. Few people would willingly classify themselves as an "analrapist," which he later changed to the less potentially misleading "theralyst." but perhaps The Collector decided he absolutely needed to have one in his collection. It's also possible he merely mistook Tobias as a member of the Blue Man Group.
The other possibility is that Tobias was never in The Collector's possession, and Thanos instead created him using his own imagination and the Reality Stone. Before Infinity War, Thanos spent a lot of time sitting in his big chair and waiting around for his acolytes to bring the Infinity Stones to him. Maybe the reason it took until the post-credits scene of Age of Ultron for Thanos to declare, "Fine. I'll do it myself," was because he was busy binge-watching Arrested Development on Space Netflix.
"Tobias, you blowhard!"
Obviously, Tobias' cameo is just a fun little Easter Egg for fans of Arrested Development and the MCU. Regardless, it's fun to theorize about wacky in-universe circumstances which could have led to his unexpected appearance. With the upcoming fifth season of Arrested Development coming soon, perhaps they'll include a winking acknowledgment of Tobias' extraterrestrial adventures.
Wait a minute... If Arrested Development is part of the MCU, and Detective Munch appeared in season 3 of Arrested Development... That means the MCU, Law & Order, and The X-Files share continuity! #ItsAllConnected, indeed.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 05, 2019