It’s important to note that the idea of a shared universe can just act as a very small part of a film. It may be just a winking cameo, like when Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) from Ghostbusters, drops in for a quick scene in Casper.
Other times, the concept of a same universe theory is the groundwork for an entire network of movies. You’ve likely heard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, combining the forces of many different superheroes. But there are also a few post-modern directors that elicit rabid same universe fan theory. The same universe theory allows us to loosely link all of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, his canon of work is called Tarantino Universe. Sometimes his characters are related, sometimes they work together, heck sometimes they just go to the movies together. Some of the Tarantino connections are stronger than others, the ones listed below are totally cut and dry.
Casper and Ghostbusters
This shared universe makes a lot of sense since both films obviously center around the whole ghost thing. The 1984 comedy classic features three parapsychology professors who set up shop as ghost removal professionals. In 1995’s Casper, an abandoned house is littered with three not so nice ghosts and their nephew Casper, “the friendly ghost.” The house’s owner calls upon an expert in ghost removal and who shows up?
Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) dressed in complete ghostbuster’s apparel enters the picture for a brief wink-wink cameo. However, he doesn’t have his full crew. Casper’s three menacing uncles prove to be too much for Ray. After his ghost defeat, he races out of the house and informs the owner, “Who you gonna call? Someone else.”
Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse
Independent film director extraordinaire Kevin Smith is from the Garden State of New Jersey. Most of his films exist in the same universe, called the View Askewniverse, which is named after Smith’s production company, View Askew.
Films in this universe include Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, andClerks 2. Those movies all take place in the New Jersey and New York area and share several of the same characters and themes. The View Askewniverse also consists of comics, an animated TV series, and several of Smith’s short films. Jay and Silent Bob appear in all of the films in the View Askewniverse.
Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs
We know for sure that Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction and the sadistic Vic Vega (aka Mr. Blonde) from Reservoir Dogs are brothers. In fact, director Quentin Tarantino even talked about his plans for both a sequel and prequel to his first two feature length films that would star John Travolta and Michael Madsen. Tarantino explained his idea on the Opie and Anthony radio show, “I even had a title for it. It was called Double V Vega. It would have taken place during the time Vincent Vega was in Amsterdam, when he was running one of Marcellus’ clubs in Amsterdam. And Vic goes to visit him.”
Who wouldn’t love to see the hitmen Vega brothers together on the silver screen possibly discussing the merits of a Royale with Cheese? However, Tarantino admitted the time to make those movies has passed. “But we’re a little older now, and since they both died – it would have to be a prequel,” said Tarantino. “I actually came up with a way I could have done it, even being older and dead where they all had older brothers and both of their brothers got together because the two guys died. And they wanted revenge or something like that. But now, [the actors] are too old for that.”
Machete and Spy Kids
Yes that’s right, the family friendly movie Spy Kids is in the same universe as the gory, violent Grindhouse movie Machete. How the heck are the two connected? They are both directed by Robert Rodriguez, who vowed to put Danny Trejo in one of his very own films every year in order to turn him into the “Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme.”
Rodriguez was not able to cast Trejo in that many movies. However, the director did cast the actor in a few good films. Trejo only had a bit part in Spy Kids and its two sequels, playing an uncle to the Cortez kids and estranged brother to their father Gregorio (Antonio Banderas). His character’s name in Spy Kids is, of course, Machete. The character finally got his very own film in 2010, Machete, a bloody revenge film that is absolutely, positively nothing like Spy Kids.
Machete became such a cult hit that Rodriguez followed it up with the 2013 sequel Machete Kills. And just in case the world needed a little more Machete, a third installment called, Machete Kills in Space, is in pre-production at the time of this writing. Lady Gaga and Mel Gibson are rumored to be involved with the project.
Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe
Coming to America and Trading Places
In a much less obvious way, the John Landis directed comedies Trading Places and Coming to Americaexist in the same universe. Trading Places came out in 1983 and starred Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, the latter worked as a high-powered commodities broker for the Duke Brothers, Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph (Ralph Bellamy). The brothers, rich and bored, placed a $1 wager on what would happen if Winthorpe (Aykroyd) got arrested and lost everything, and Billy Ray (Murphy), a poor street hustler, was given Winthorpe’s job. By the end of the movie, Winthorpe and Billy Ray figure out the brother’s scheme and work up a plan that results in their arrest and total financial ruin.
Five years later in 1988, Eddie Murphy stars as an African Prince in Coming to America. Prince Akeem wishes to make it in America on his own and winds up handing out a large portion of the fortune given to him by his father the king. Two of the lucky recipients are a pair of bums. The audience doesn’t realize it at first, but the homeless men are the Duke brothers. In a hilarious movie filled with classic comedic one-liners, Randolph Duke with just a cameo role may have the most iconic line, because of the winking reveal of the greedy men from Trading Places, ” Mortimer… we’re back!”
True Romance and Reservoir Dogs
Quentin Tarantino did not direct True Romance, but he did write the screenplay. The heroine in the film is named Alabama. During a conversation in Reservoir Dogs between Mr. White and Joe Cabot, the crime boss refers to Alabama as Mr. White’s partner. Mr. White tells Joe that he hasn’t worked with her for a year and half.
In Tarantino’s original screenplay for True Romance, Alabama’s husband, Clarence, dies during the bloody hotel room Mexican standoff scene. However, director Tony Scott wanted a happy ending for Alabama and Clarence, so in the rewrite they both survive the shootout. Had the script stayed the way Tarantino wanted it, Alabama would have been available to work with Mr. White.
The Phantom Menace and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are old friends who came up in the movie industry together. An active film spectator can certainly catch plenty of Easter eggs shared between the two director’s films. However, two nods in particular may be more than just an Easter egg and actually be enough evidence to speculate that the worlds of Star Wars and E.T. exist in the same universe.
During the Senate hearing scene in The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) requests a vote regarding Chancellor Valorum’s (Terence Stamp) ability to lead. During the voting process, we see a clear shot of three E.T.s in their own pod shouting out to make a vote. There is also a scene in E.T. where the extra terrestrial spots a young child dressed as Yoda. The alien points at the child and says, “home.”
Eddie the Eagle and Cool Runnings
The Olympic games provide plenty of underdog stories that turn out to make pretty great movies. In 1993, movie audiences got the chance to see the real life story of the first Jamaican Olympic bobsled team take their shot at winning a gold medal at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary in the comedy Cool Runnings.
Eddie the Eagle, a 2016 movie about an underdog British ski jumper, also took place at the winter games in Calgary. The filmmakers realized the shared universe between Eddie and the Jamaican bobsledders. During a scene when Eddie’s trainer (Hugh Jackman) is about to turn off the radio, we can hear a newscaster start to announce the Jamaican bobsled team.
Inglorious Basterds and True Romance
You may remember Sgt. Donnie Donowitz (Eli Roth) better by his nickname the “Bear Jew.” He is part of Lt. Aldo Raine’s (Brad Pitt) crew of Nazi Hunters in Inglorious Basterds. And because no one likes to wink at their audience more than writer/director Quentin Taratino, it turns out that Donnie is the father of Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), the slimeball film producer from the Tarantino-penned True Romance.
In True Romance, Lee produces a bloody film called, Coming Home in a Body Bag. Tarantino wanted to linkthe father and son not just by name but also with character traits. Donny is known for his love of violence inInglorious Basterds; he is the man that Aldo calls in to do the brutal Nazi beatings. His son Lee clearly shares that love of savagery with the movies he makes.