Cinematic shared universes are all the rage today. Audiences have been gobbling them up faster than their popcorn.
There’s something about them that make the films that utilize the process seem bigger and more “lived in.” Marvel was the first big company to dip its toe into the pond when it launched with it’s memorable Iron Man film in May 2008.
A little over a month later it also released the less memorable Incredible Hulk. Still, when the credits rolled at the end of Hulk, and Robert Downey Jr. showed up as Tony Stark claiming, “we’re putting a team together,” it was clear that Marvel Studios had something big planned. DC Comics, not wanting to fall behind, began their own shared universe starting with Man of Steel in 2013.
Shared universes aren’t just invested with superheroes, though. The Dark Universe which is populated by classic Universal creatures, started with The Mummy. Additionally, the MonsterVerse which features all manner of kaiju rampaging through city scapes, got its start with the 2014 Godzilla and the confirmation with Kong: Skull Island.
Even before all this recent world building, many a classic films have been linked to another. Sometimes through Easter eggs, shared characters, and spin-offs.
Here are the 15 Incredible Movies You Had NO IDEA Were Connected.
15. Blade Runner and Prometheus
Ridley Scott has two major sci-fi franchises to balance, Blade Runner and Alien (which Prometheus is a part of).
He chose to combine the two universes: Blade Runner features the replicant manufacturing “Tyrell Corporation,” while Alien features the “Weyland Corporation.” In a Blu-ray extra, there is a diary entry from Peter Weyland himself implying that he learned everything he knows about building androids from Eldon Tyrell.
Of Tyrell’s replicants, Weyland says “I always suggested he stick with simple robotics instead of those genetic abominations he enslaved and sold off-world, although his idea to implant them with false memories was, well… ‘amusing.'”
He later mocks Tyrell for allowing his own creations to kill him. If Weyland had any foresight he would have seen what happened to his mentor as a cautionary tale, as he too dies at the hands of his own ambitions in Prometheus.
The speculation doesn’t stop there. The trailer for the upcoming Blader Runner 2049 features specimens floating in tanks that strongly resemble “the Engineers” from Prometheus.
How deep does this connection go? Hopefully we’ll find out when Blade Runner 2049 is released in October 2017.
14. Tangled and Frozen
Tangled was a Disney hit, but Frozen was a mega Disney hit– it massively gained popularity and became a hit for children and Disney fans alike.
However, what many fans don’t know is that the two movies are connected. In one scene of Frozen, during Elsa’s coronation, you can clearly see both Rapunzel (after her much needed haircut) and Flynn in the background wandering around inside the castle. They can be seen walking through the crowd as Anna sings “For the First Time in Forever”.
Now that shared universes are becoming mainstream, could Disney be thinking of creating a shared “Princess Universe” in the near future?
Fans will need to keep their eyes peeled for more hints when Frozen 2 comes out sometime in 2019.
13. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction
It’s instantly apparent by the fake “Red Apple Cigarettes” brand that show up in most of Quentin Tarantino’s films, that he’s no stranger to building a shared universe.
One of the earliest examples begins with the most sadistic characters he ever created– Vic Vega– better known as the diamond thief, Mr. Blonde, played masterfully by Michael Madsen, in Reservoir Dogs.
Vic’s brother would make an appearance in Tarantino’s follow up film Pulp Fiction as the well-read hitman, Vincent Vega.
It was a major comeback role at the time for John Travolta. There were even plans for the brothers to star in a prequel film together titled Double V Vega, but unfortunately the project never took off.
12. Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky
Happy Gilmore focuses on a foul-mouthed hockey player turned golfer, while Little Nicky centers on the literal son of Satan who is far too kind and gentle to survive in Hell. The two main characters are both played by Adam Sandler and could not be further from each other in terms of personality. Yet– funny enough– they share the same world.
Happy’s golf instructor is a man named Chubbs who meets an unfortunate demise. Happy offers him the head of the alligator that bit off Chubb’s right-hand, but the sight of the dead creature frightens Chubbs so badly it causes him to jump out a window to his death. Later, Chubbs is shown in Heaven standing next to the alligator in peace.
Meanwhile, Nicki is part angel, which means he can speak directly to Heaven. In one scene, while chatting with an angel, a familiar man is seen hanging out among the clouds.
11. Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the ultimate break up film in which a musician named Peter Bretter loses his celebrity girlfriend to a rockstar named Aldous Snow, played by Russel Brand.
Despite being a womanizing, party-animal, Aldous (miraculously) comes across as likable. He’s so likable, in fact, that he went on to have his own movie in Get Him to the Greek in 2010.
Confusingly, Aldous has interactions with a character played by Jonah Hill in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, with Hill playing a sad waiter named Matthew who keeps trying to get Aldous to listen to his demo CDs.
10. The Evil Dead and Jason Goes to Hell
The ’90s era horror Jason Goes to Hell featured a scene with a legendary grimoire: The Necronomicon. Not just any version either, but the same prop used in the The Evil Dead series to bring forth the notorious, deadite monsters.
The concept of The Necronomicon itself, created originally by HP Lovecraft, was used by other authors with his blessings, making the evil book an early shared universe icon.
Furthermore, at the end of Jason Goes to Hell, Freddy Kruger’s gloved hand is seen grabbing Jason’s mask before credits role. This was a precursor to Freddy vs. Jason, a project that would be in a development void until its released in 2003.
There were talks of a film sequel that would have featured Ash, the lead character of The Evil Dead, battling the two grotesque baddies, but it never occurred… at least not on screen.
Tying it all back together was a sequel comic book written to the film titled Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors.
9. The Lion King and Hercules
If you’re a celebrity demi-god whose father is the king of all gods, you better have some style. Disney’s Hercules showed this in spades when he posed for a painting.
He held a sword and shield while sporting a lion’s pelt, as an artist immortalized Herc’s image onto a vase. A discussion with his hero-trainer Phil, causes Hercules to become upset and toss the lion pelt onto the ground.
Taking a closer look, it becomes clear that the felled feline is none other than The Lion King villain Scar. It’s nice to see that Uncle Scar’s hide remained well intact after it was ripped to shreds by his hostile, former employees, aka the hyenas.
At one point of the film, we see Hercules completing one of his Twelve Labors from the original Greek legend, defeating the epically huge Nemean lion. Yet, for some reason, Herc chooses to wear Scar instead.
8. Jackie Brown and Out of Sight
It’s not often that Quentin Tarantino directs a script that isn’t from his own material. Elmore Leonard, the author of Rum Punch, was an exception.
In 1997, Tarantino adapted Leonard’s book into Jackie Brown. One of the characters in the film, an ATF agent named Ray Nicolette, was played by Michael Keaton.
In 1998 the character returned once again in Out of Sight, again played by Keaton. Much like the previous film, Out of Sight was also adapted from a Leonard novel of the same name. This time around, Nicolette had transferred from the ATF to the FBI.
Michael Keaton deserves some credit, as he also appeared in both Jackie Brown and Out of Sight as Ray Nicolette, as a fellow ATF agent. Currently, he has been a part of another cinematic shared universe with Marvel, most notably appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
7. Spy Kids and Machete
Like his director friend Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez can’t resist building a cinematic universe. Typically not a kid-friendly director, he surprised his fans with Spy Kids in 2001, which focused on kids in training to become spies.
The child spies pay their Uncle Machete a visit and he serves as a reluctant mentor who provides gadgets throughout the series.
So what do we get to see Machete doing when not mentoring child spies? Going on high-octane, R-rated adventures, of course.
In 2007, a movie about Machete was featured as a fake trailer for the Grindhouse movie (a joint Tarantino-Rodriguez project). The trailer would soon become a reality, and in 2010 Machete was created.
6. Sunset Boulevard and Mulholland Drive
Sometimes films have a spiritual connection– as is the case of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and the 1950’s classic Sunset Boulevard.
Both movies are named after famous roads in Hollywood, and by no coincidence, the roads run parallel to one another, just like the two films. This was likely a deliberate choice by Lynch, who likes to work with mirror images.
While Sunset Boulevard features the character Norma Desmond, a fallen star who’s trying to regain fame, Mulholland Drive encounters Betty, a bright-eyed wannabe-actress who wants to gain fame for the first time.
They are similar characters headed in opposite directions. Both stories have the same conclusion– Hollywood can be cruel. There are other connections as well, such as Betty frequenting a restaurant called “Winkie’s Sunset Boulevard,” and the fact that in both movies, a car accident is what leads the main characters to meet one another.
It could be argued that Sunset Boulevard is the spiritual catalyst for many of Lynch’s works. His character on his television series Twin Peaks for example, is named Gordon Cole, a name taken from a minor character from Sunset Boulevard.
5. American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction
It’s known by some fans that American Psycho character Patrick Bateman and The Rules of Attraction lead Sean Bateman, share a surname– in fact they’re brothers. The movies were adapted from Bret Easton Ellis’ novels of the same titles.
Patrick Bateman is a psychopathic serial killer, while Sean is a suicidal drug dealer. Basically they’re the most unpleasant pair of shared universe siblings since The Vega Bros.
Christian Bale, who played Patrick was asked to do a cameo scene for The Rules of Attraction, where he calls his kid brother (played by James Van Deer Beek). Unfortunately Bale declined.
Caspar Van Dien was cast to film the cameo scene as Patrick, but this was cut from the final film. It would appear that even the character of Patrick Bateman is too much of a sociopath to share screen time with others.
4. Trading Places and Coming to America
Mortimer and Randolph Duke were a pair of villainous brothers from the movie Trading Places. After interfering in the lives of a poor man and a rich man (making for a modern The Prince and the Pauper scenario by having them switch places), they find that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.
The two wronged men, Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorpe III (played by Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd) turn the tables on the Dukes and leave them millions of dollars in debt.
Flash forward to another film starring Murphy– Coming to America. This time Murphy’s character is a wealthy royal from Africa named Prince Akeem.
Akeem is attempting to live a normal live, and when he arrives in the USA he decides to give a large amount of his money to a pair of homeless men on the streets.
3. Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Director Kevin Smith has a name for the cinematic world he’s been building since 1994: the View Askewniverse.
The movie that is the grandest culmination of his work is Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. The title characters have cameoed in all of the View Askew films such as, Dogma and Chasing Amy, but they got their start in Clerks.
Clerks ties heavily into the plot of Jay and Silent Bob’s adventure since it is one of the two clerks, Randal Graves, who gets fed up with the two stoners constantly hanging around their strip mall.
He gets a restraining order on the two, which causes them to get thrown out of the area by a police officer. This leads to them finding a new hangout in a comic book shop. The plot snowballs into a mad adventure that goes all the way to Hollywood, and they have their favorite clerk to thank for it.
Kevin Smith hasn’t made a theatrical release set in the View Askewniverse since Clerks II in 2006, though he’s hoping to change that in the near future.
2. Unbreakable and Split
Director M. Night Shyamalan has never been one for sequels, which is what made the connection between Unbreakable and Split so surprising. Unbreakable features Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a security officer who slowly discovers he has super abilities, the primary of which is his inhuman durability– hence the title.
Split features a mentally ill young man named Kevin Wendell Crumb, who is played by James McAvoy. Kevin wrestles with 24 personalities in his head, the most deadly of which is an entity known as The Beast.
The Beast can crawl on walls, has incredible strength, as well as bullet proof skin. The Beast survives through to the end of the film and is let loose on the general public.
One of the seated customers in the ending scene happens to be David Dunn, who references Mr. Glass, the villain played by Samuel L Jackson, who he unwittingly went up against in Unbreakable. No doubt Dunn will be ready to throw down with the new Beast villain (or The Horde as the public begins to call him).
1. From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez have already made this list for their own cinematic universes, so it’s not a huge surprise to learn that the two directors have shared a fictional character too.
Michael Parks plays Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in both From Dusk Till Dawn, which is directed by Rodriguez, and Kill Bill Vol. 1, which is directed by Tarantino. It’s also worth noting that Tarantino had writing credit for Rodriguez’s film.
While Earl McGraw was shot dead in From Dusk Till Dawn, that didn’t stop him from arriving at the murder scene of the Bride’s wedding in Kill Bill Vol.1. His work doesn’t end there, either.
Tarantino and Rodriguez created the joint film Grindhouse, a ’70s era throwback, double-feature. Earl McGraw appeared in both Rodriguez’s feature Planet Terror, as well as Tarantino’s Death Proof. Earl McGraw may be the busiest sheriff in fiction.
Sadly, Michael Parks passed away this last May.
Can you think of any other incredible movies that are surprisingly connected? Tell us in the comment section!
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