It feels like we are always talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the DC Expanded Universe, or whatever new series in development with a “shared universe” idea has hit the webs this week.
After the success of the MCU it was no surprise to see some of their work with a shared universe emulated by other franchises and studios. However, it’s easy to forget that while the MCU has basically perfected the idea, they were not the first studio, series, or franchise to dabble with a shared universe.
So today, we will be discussing one of the most interesting yet relatively unknown shared universes out there, and how it relates to other theories that we have seen over the years. Today we will be examining J.J. Abrams, Star Wars, Lost, and a number of other franchises that theoretically exist in the same cinematic universe.
Welcome to The Slushoverse Theory.
Let’s consider one thing for a moment. With J.J. (who I’m sure doesn’t mind if I call him J.J.) now handling both of the biggest sci-fi franchises ever, and bringing them both into this new age of reboots, remakes, and re-imaginings, this pretty much makes him the geek god of all things Star related. Which makes him omnipotent, meaning he can do pretty much whatever he wants (with the approval of Disney of course). So obviously a crossover is completely out of the question, right?
Woah. That may have just wrinkled your brain. Don’t click away! I’m not speaking of your typical crossover, where Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker (or whoever the main protagonist will be in the new Star Wars) meet, fight, then band together to stop a huge threat that neither of them would be able to defeat alone. Such a thing would cheapen both franchises and wouldn’t make for particularly good movies. I’m talking crossover as in shared realities, something Abrams is a HUGE fan of. Stay with me now, I promise to explain everything.
Let’s consider some of the other series/movies that Abrams has been a part of. I’m talking about Alias, Lost, Fringe, Cloverfield, Super 8, Star Trek, and even Heroes, despite having a very slim connection to Abrams. All of these TV and movie universes are potentially connected, because of one interesting, magical, delicious, heavily addictive ice-cold flavored drink known as Slusho!
Slusho was first mentioned in the second episode of Alias, where it can be seen in the background. Although then it was Slush-O and resembled the Icee logo, over time it would develop its own look and drop the hyphen. This was the first very minor appearance of Slusho, but it would not be the last.
Heroes also jumped on the Slusho bandwagon with a few appearances from the chilly drink, most notably when Kristen Bell’s character Elle is seen slurping the tasty treat on a stake out. While Abrams connection to Heroes is mainly due to his friendship with Greg Grunberg, who played Matt Parkman in the series, it did enable him to get some Slusho shots in there, which brings Heroes into the Slushoverse. Just look at all these Slusho addicts!
Let’s move on to Cloverfield, which is basically the story of how Slusho is made and the repercussions that come with it. Repercussions meaning weird giant monsters that destroy cities and cultural icons. Cloverfield is actually the movie that connects most of the various properties into one shared universe, but I’ll get to that. First let’s talk about the Slusho connection. The most obvious would have to be that Jason Hawkins (played by Mike Vogel) is wearing a Slusho shirt throughout the film, but that really just scratches the surface.
The whole start of the film is a party for Rob Hawkins (played by Michael Stahl-David) who just got a job as vice president of the Slusho corporation in Japan. I learned that from a pretty intense viral campaign used to promote the film, which is nothing out of the ordinary these days. The one thing that made this viral campaign different was the tremendous amount of detail put into a backstory that really gets zero coverage in the actual film.
Most of the viral campaign told of a story behind the scenes related to the creation of Slusho, which appears to tie in heavily to the Cloverfield monster. Some info comes from an undercover worker known as the Whistle Blower, who worked for a company called Tagruato. Tagruato is the company behind Slusho, but also may be the company responsible for the giant monster that tears apart the city in Cloverfield. There were a ton of shady details coming from this company and other sources, which can all be found here. I’m going to try and keep us Slusho oriented for our purposes but I highly recommend you check out the rest of the story as it relates to Clovefield at the link.
Now, the key ingredient in Slusho is an addictive additive known as Seabed Nectar (or Kaitei No Mitsu), which Tagruato mines using deep-sea drilling. The Whistle Blower’s hidden messages show sonar images of the monster (among other things), presumably awaken due to the advanced deep-sea drilling methods of Tagruato, all of which is done to make the sweet and delicious Slusho. Some pictures found on various websites foreshadow the monster’s arrival in New York, all also related to Tagruato and Slusho. Even the ‘satellite’ that shows up in the end of the film is said to be a Tagruato satellite. Pretty in-depth for a viral marketing campaign, right? That explains Slusho, which sort of explains the monster, which now sets Cloverfield firmly in Abrams shared reality. Which brings us to Lost.
Now I’ll start by saying that Lost has nothing to do with Slusho. No mentions of Slusho, and no easter eggs (as far as I can see), so to the casual observer (which I apparently am not) it has nothing to do with the Slushoverse. However, fans of the show should be aware of what is called the Dharma Initiative. The Dharma Initiative plays a large part in the series and is a research project with a very recognizable logo. This logo shows up within the first few seconds of Cloverfield, identifying where the tape that follows (featuring the main story) came from. With the inclusion of the Dharma Initiative, that effectively brings the events of Lost into the Cloverfield reality, which we have already determined to be a part of the Slushoverse.
Super 8 is an easy addition to the shared reality since most movie goer’s already assumed upon the first trailer that it had something to do with Cloverfield. However, despite the similarity in monster/alien, there was really no obvious connection. Unless of course you count the Slusho ad in the convenience store. Yep, Slushoverse. The connections between the Cloverfield monster and the Super 8 alien seem to be only superficial, and no mythology between the two has been revealed.
This brings us to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, which I was quite impressed with. I loved the direction he took which made it easier for fans of the original series to accept the ‘reboot’ of the much-loved characters. It’s a very simple and elegant solution really, as the theory of a parallel reality is introduced, which effectively frees up the story and appeases the fans. Even a big budget film like Star Trek is not exempt from the Slushoverse, which is made clear in the bar scene near the beginning of the film. As Uhura (Zoë Saldana) arrives at the bar and orders drinks for her and her friends (I assume, otherwise she has a bit of a drinking problem), the bartender casually suggests to her the Slusho mix. BOOM! Star Trek is a part of the Slushoverse! Also, the bartender clearly makes a profit off peddling this highly addictive Slusho Mix to promising young Starfleet cadets.
And that isn’t even the only connection! During a sweep of a city, if you’re quick enough to catch it you can even see a building with the Tagruato company logo. if you’ve forgotten already, Tagruato is the company that makes Slusho. I’ll save you the trouble of re-watching Star Trek (even though we both know you are going to anyway) and show you the building below.
Is your mind blown yet? Because this is where it all comes together; Fringe. Fringe is the glue that holds the Slushoverse together. While it was Slusho-free for the early seasons, the popular drink made its first appearance in a couple of promotional pieces, and then soon it was seen in actual episodes. Which, if you have been reading along, means that Fringe is also set in the Slushoverse. However, let’s take a look at one of the main themes of Fringe. Alternate realities played a large part throughout the series, and in my sometimes tragically imaginative mind, this opens up a whole new scenario.
The establishment of the existence of alternate realities in a reality that has been confirmed to be a part of the Slushoverse (confirmed by me, that is) now allows all of these various movies and TV series that had a vague relationship before, to now be part of one ultimate multiverse. Carrying that further, given the events of the series, presumably any of the characters in the Fringe reality (or any reality given the proper technology) could visit another one of the realities.
A shared universe theory like this isn’t even anything new, as The John Munch Theory, and by extension The Tommy Westphall Theory are similar. The John Munch Theory surmises that the character of Det. John Munch (Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: SVU), played by Richard Belzer, is the key character in a number of shows due to guest appearances in shows like Arrested Development, 30 Rock, The Wire, The X-Files, etc. The theory goes on to say that these guest appearances would mean all these shows were part of the same TV universe. Taken a step further, we head over the final episode of St. Elsewhere, the hospital drama that existed before it was fashionable to be a hospital drama. Another show that featured a huge number of guest appearances with characters on the show appearing on other shows, or vice versa.
In the final episode, it is revealed that the entire run of St. Elsewhere actually takes place in the mind of autistic child Tommy Westphall. Which would then mean that every show connected to St Elsewhere, including the ones with Det. John Munch, all presumably happened in the mind of Tommy Westphall. Due to the different connections between certain shows, it was once stated that around 90% of all shows on television existed in the mind of Tommy Westphall. Crazy, right?
And moving away from the easily connectable TV universes, examples exist in other director’s movies. Quentin Tarantino, for one, has a pretty interesting shared universe as well, with a main connecting factor being a certain brand of cigarettes known as Red Apple, as well as the restaurant Big Kahuna Burger, and many related characters. Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse features a brand of smokes called Nails, as well as the restaurant Mooby’s, that feature in almost all of his Jay & Silent Bob films, again with related characters.
So what does any of this have to do with J.J. Abrams directing Star Wars: Episode VII? Not a whole lot, unless we see a Slusho easter egg, or anything else that would connect it to any of these previously mentioned series. But wait, have we already seen that?
A recent clip from Star Trek Into Darkness shows a very specific character from the Star Wars universe appearing in the middle of a space battle. That’s right, R2-D2‘s appearance in the film brings Star Wars effectively into the Slushoverse, which opens the doors for even more films to be loosely brought into the Slushoverse, as those iconic droids have a habit of popping up in other films as well, like as a hieroglyph in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
So nothing but possibilities, or potential, depending on your feelings regarding The Slushoverse Theory. I personally doubt the inclusion of Slusho in Star Wars, unless they reveal the blue milk to be some sort of Slusho mix, but with the R2-D2 appearance, Star Wars is already effectively a part of the alternate reality-filled Slushoverse. Which means that while Star Trek and Star Wars would be completely different realities, they could be connected through J.J.’s Slushoverse. Which then implies, as shown in Fringe, that at any time with the right technology, they would be able to crossover into each reality.
Mind-blowing, right? Almost as mind-blowing as we can hope Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be when it hits theaters thanks to J.J. Abrams. Which I’m still getting used too, by the way. But if I can get used to The Slushoverse Theory, then I suppose I can get behind Abrams as director of the Star Monopoly. Maybe he’ll enjoy a cool, refreshing Slusho while comfortably lounging in his director’s chair, plotting the future of Sci-Fi.
What do you think about The Slushoverse Theory? Am I crazy? Did I blow your mind? Did you skip to the end and now have no idea what I’m talking about? Are you the evil version of me from a parallel reality plotting my imminent death and replacement?
Let me know in the comments section below and join the discussion on the Grizzlybomb Facebook Page!
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