It feels like we are always talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the DC Extended 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.
Today we are 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,, Cloverfield, 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 involved creatively with two of the biggest sci-fi franchises ever, having brought 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. That makes him omnipotent, meaning he can do pretty much whatever he wants with the approval of Disney and Universal, 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 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 over the last few years. I’m talking about Alias, Lost, Fringe, Cloverfield, Super 8, Star Trek, Heroes, and so much more. 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!
Interestingly enough, The first version of Slusho actually appeared way back in the 90s on Kenan and Kel, which is a very odd place for the Slushoverse Theory to start, but there it is. What was no doubt simply a prop in the show will eventually become something larger and more connected to the world of entertainment than whoever first created it could have possibly imagined, even if it didn’t directly involve J.J. Abrams.
Slusho was again 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 last appearance of Slush-O, and the beginning of the Slushoverse.
NBC’s Heroes jumped on the Slusho bandwagon next 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 awakened 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 at 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.
Of course, Cloverfield has now become quite a unique anthology series with the release of last year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, but surely there was no Slusho connection in the apocalyptic thriller? Correct, there is no outright mention of Slusho, but as we’ve established there is a larger universe at work here, as showcased by the viral marketing behind Cloverfield. It stood to reason that 10 Cloverfield Lane would follow it’s predecessors path, and boy did they ever. Following suspicious activity on the Tagruato website and email server that was previously set up for Cloverfield, an ominous message along with a new page on the site was found, revealing an Employee of the Month page. One of the employees mentioned worked at Bold Futura (image above was briefly seen in 10 Cloverfield Lane to tie the following news into the actual film), which was a subsidiary company of Tagruato. That Employee is Howard Stambler, John Goodman’s character in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Howard is revealed to have some serious inside info about the threat the world faces in the film, which we won’t reveal here since we’re trying to keep it Slusho related. But be sure to check out /Film’s investigation into the viral marketing for the whole story. For our purposes, we just need to further connect Stambler and Tagruato to Slusho, which the following picture off of the Employee of the Year page will do quite nicely.
Now that’s obviously the most recent example of the Slushoverse that we’ve seen, but there’s still more to tell in the past, so we have to go back to the beginning of Cloverfield, and an interesting connection to Lost.
Now I’ll start by saying that Lost has nothing to do with Slusho as we’ve encountered it so far. However, fans of the show should be aware of what is called the Dharma Initiative, which 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 Jack and the gang into the Cloverfield reality.
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. Any further connections between the Cloverfield monster and the Super 8 alien seems to be only superficial, and no mythology between the two has been revealed.
This brings us to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, which for the record I was quite impressed with. I loved the direction he took which was 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. Parallel realities are something that the Slushoverse is about to encounter in a big way, but we’ll get back to that. 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 (Zoe Saldana) arrives at the bar and orders some drinks, 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.
But that isn’t 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 and show you the building below.
Now, this is where it all comes together, with J.J. Abrams sci-fi hit Fringe. Fringe is the glue that holds the Slushoverse together. While it was Slusho-free for the first season, the popular drink appeared 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. Alternate realities played a large part throughout the series, and in my sometimes tragically imaginative mind, this opens up a whole new scenario.
Establishing the existence of alternate realities in a reality that has been confirmed to be a part of the Slushoverse now allows all of these various movies and TV series that had a vague relationship before to become 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 very similar. The John Munch Theory surmises that the character of Det. John Munch played by Richard Belzer (Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: SVU), connects a number of shows due to his guest appearances, like Arrested Development, 30 Rock, The Wire, The X-Files, etc. The theory goes on to say that these guest appearances as Munch 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 of the series 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 an autistic child named Tommy Westphall. This would then indicate 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 thought that around 90% of all shows on television at one point existed in the mind of Tommy Westphall. Crazy, right?
You can click here for a larger version of the above map.
Now 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, with a main connecting factor being a certain brand of cigarettes known as Red Apple, as well as the restaurant Big Kahuna Burger, and several 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 after Star Trek, Abrams moved on to Star Wars, but what does any of this have to do with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens? Not a whole lot, unless there was a Slusho easter egg we missed or anything else that would connect it to any of these previously mentioned series. But wait, have we already seen that?
A 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 any future 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 ever growing 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.
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 GEEK Facebook Page!
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