A few weeks ago, it was pointed out there was a possible link between director Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Prometheus and his Alien films, hinting that they all exist in the same fictional universe. And that got me thinking about how to connect various individual films and franchises to form a larger fictional universe wherein characters could conceivably meet up. While there are some films that had a connection or two, I did manage to find several that form a chain of connections that lead to some fun conclusions.
I should point out here that I am not talking about various individual franchises like the Bond movies or Kevin Smith’s ViewAskewniverse or the connections between Quintin Tarantino’s films. Those films have a certain amount of built-in interconnectedness whereas what we’re looking for are connections and references that are more slyly made and perhaps not officially sanctioned by their studios.
(Note that there has been long history of linking various individual stories to form larger worlds going all the way back to the late 19th century Science-fiction writer Jose Philip Farmer expanded on the idea when he created his “Wold-Newton Family Tree” which postulated familial connections between the heroes of 19th century swashbuckling adventures, pulp heroes of the early 20th century and more. Alan Moore appropriated the idea and applied it towards his comics work The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. There is also a great website that links television series universes together to form some unlikely combinations here.)
Val Verde – Created by writer Steven de Souza as a stand-in for any South American revolution-prone banana republic, Val Verde has been mentioned in at least three films, linking Commando, Predator and Die Hard 2 into one world.
In the mid-1980s, a coup attempt led by a man named Arius tried to force a retired American Delta Force operative named Colonel John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) into assassinating the country’s president by kidnapping Matrix’s daughter. Matrix was able to turn the tables on Arius and killed him. Two years later, Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer (Schwarzenegger) and his special forces team infiltrate Val Verde’s jungles in order to rescue a presidential cabinet minister and his aide who had been abducted by guerrilla forces only to discover an extra-terrestrial who hunts humans for sport.
By the end of the 1980s, control of the country had been seized by General Ramon Esperanza, although he was later deposed and extradited to the United States, leading to a failed rescue attempt on Christmas Eve at Dulles International Airport that was thwarted by New York City police officer John McClane (Bruce Willis).
Given that political unrest has been common occurrences in all three films, Val Verde can’t be a great place to live, even before you start factoring in extraterrestrial hunters and the like. (Note: Since the events in Prometheus seem to negate the events of the two Alien Vs Predator films, I am choosing to ignore them as a way of linking the separate Alien and Predator franchises. And really, aren’t we all better off ignoring the Alien Vs Predator films anyway?)
Pacific Courier Freight – If you’re a terrorist and you need a van for your nefarious activities, you will probably want to steal one from the fictional folks at Pacific Courier Freight. That’s what the terrorists in Die Hard did in order to infiltrate Nakatomi Plaza.
And judging by the similarity in their corporate logos, I would suggest that the Atlantic Courier Freight that gets caught in the film’s opening explosion in Die Hard: With A Vengeance is somehow related, perhaps a subsidiary or sibling company to Pacific Courier. Of course, the leader of the terrorists in Die Hard: With A Vengeance is Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) brother of Die Hard’s charismatic baddie Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), so maybe it is a family thing with the Grubers.
The real connection here is production designer Jackson De Govia, who also made the plane destroyed by the exploding bus in Speed one belonging to Pacific Courier. I can’t begin to imagine what this company’s insurance rates are like.
The Gruber Family – And speaking of the Die Hard franchise’s Gruber brothers, could they be related to the assassin Hans Gruber (played by Michael St. Clair) from the 1966 spy spoof Our Man Flint starring James Coburn? Perhaps a father or uncle who Rickman’s character was named after. (Though I don’t think you could get away with calling him “Junior.”) I’m sure that if a close family member was killed by an agent of a spy organization named ZOWIE (Zonal Organization World Intelligence Espionage), you would probably turn to terrorism as a viable career alternative as well.
But if you take a closer look at the Gruber Family, Pacific Courier Freight and Val Verde connections, you find that you suddenly have a movie universe wherein the Die Hard franchise, the Predator franchise, both Speed films, Commando and the two James Coburn Flint movies all co-exist!
And how awesome would it be to see Bruce Willis’ John McClane and Coburn’s Derek Flint team up to fight a predator on a speeding bus with a bomb on it? OK, maybe that is stretching things a bit, but you never know…