The Best Worst and Craziest Cinematic Universes

first_img Sony Pictures CEO Says ‘Door Is Closed’ for Now on Spider-Man SplitMarvel Censors Criticism of America From Marvel Comics #1000 Stay on target Forget simple sequels, these days the only way for movie studios can make the billions of dollars necessary to break even is to create their own “cinematic universe.” In case you haven’t been paying attention to pop culture this decade, a cinematic universe is made up of films and TV shows and Animatrices and whatever other media you can think of that all exist in the same interconnected universe. Everything theoretically affects everything else, and if you want to keep all the events straight, you better consume every piece of continuity content. Fun!#Brand holders are coming up cinematic universes faster than ever these days, and while some of them are pretty good others are terrible or just really weird. So is here to help you out with our list of the best, worst, and craziest cinematic universes.THE BESTThe Marvel Cinematic UniverseExamples: The Avengers, Luke Cage, Thor: The Dark WorldMarvel kicked off the cinematic universe boom a decade ago by making too much money from movies featuring Thor. Everyone else has pretty much been playing catch-up. From movies to Netflix shows to the occasional comic book, Kevin Feige/Disney/The Dread Ike Perlmutter have their fingers in all of culture.Star WarsExamples: A New Hope, Rogue One, The Clone WarsStar Wars used to just be a massively successful series of films, but under Disney, it has reached cinematic universe status with its myriad of main films, spin-offs, comics, and cartoons. Convince J.J. Abrams to somehow make Star Trek into Star Wars canon, and we’ll reach the singularity.Hanna-BarberaExamples: The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones, Jabberjaw, Scooby-Doo! WestleMania MysteryFrom modern stone-age families to talking stoner dogs to sharks that sound like Curly from the Three Stooges, Hanna-Barbera’s cartoon empire is truly magnificent. The occasional times these properties have crossed over are delightful. They’re long overdue for a full team-up movie and/or fighting game.PixarExamples: Easter eggs in every Pixar movieUnless you’re some Internet Gutter conspiracy theorist, you’ll know the Pixar films don’t all take place in the same universe. However, every film does have Easter Eggs related to other films. That’s a strong enough cinematic connection for us.Super Smash Bros.Examples: Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and/or Wii UNintendo has the richest cast of characters in video games, and besides its distinct fighting mechanics, the joy of Super Smash Bros. is seeing those characters all together pummeling each other. It may not have been the best game, but the crossover cutscenes of the Subspace Emissary story mode in Brawl are gamer dreams come true.Comedy Bang BangExamples: Comedy Bang Bang the Podcast, Comedy Bang Bang the TV showAs a podcast, Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang Bang developed a whole host of improv characters and inside jokes over hundreds of episodes. Some of those characters even got their own spin-off podcasts on the Earwolf network. The Comedy Bang Bang TV show, while pretty different in tone, puts those Heynong men and women in front of the camera, deepening the universe.Iron ChefExamples: Iron Chef, Iron Chef AmericaLike a fine recipe, the original Japanese Iron Chef is the perfect blend of anime lore, real people out of a Godzilla movie, and actual cooking show. But did you know its American follow-up is part of the same universe? Real-life martial artist Mark Dacascos plays the fake nephew of the original Chairman Takeshi Kaga.THE WORSTThe DC Extended UniverseExamples: Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice, Suicide SquadI love DC. I didn’t even think Man of Steel was that bad. But oh boy Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad are some really terrible movies. There’s still maybe a chance to turn things around with Wonder Woman and Justice League, but the foundation is pretty much quicksand.Universal MonstersExamples: The Mummy, Dracula Untold(?)The original Universal Monsters, like Dracula and Frankenstein and The Wolf Man, are titans of cinema. They even met Abbott and Costello. But we’re deeply cynical of this new initiative to turn these characters into stars of an action movie universe, no matter how hilarious Tom Cruise’s screams are.NicktoonsExamples: Nickelodeon commercials, The Hypothetical Nicktoons MovieAs a child of the 1990s, I love some Nickelodeon Nicktoons. Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Invader Zim, SpongeBob SquarePants, you name it. The only reason Nicktoons are on this worst list is that the hypothetical Nicktoons crossover film is being directed by Jared Hess, the terrible director of terrible movies like Napoleon Dynamite, Gentlemen Broncos, and Nickelodeon’s own Nacho Libre.Machete/Spy KidsExamples: Machete, Machete Kills, Machete Kills in Space, Spy KidsMachete was a cool trailer in Grindhouse, and the first film was actually a pretty neat meditation on Mexican-American immigration issues in-between the Danny Trejo slaughtering. But having the character pop up in Robert Rodriguez’s kid-friendly (and mostly bad) Spy Kids series is only cool in an ironic way.Alien vs. PredatorExamples: AVP, AVP: RequiemSeparately, the Alien and Predator franchises have produced some fantastic sci-fi/horror films. But whenever they team up, the result is either a terrible movie or an occasionally good but mostly mediocre video game. At least Freddy vs Jason and The Ring vs. The Grudge are aware of their own awfulness.HasbroExamples: Transformers, G.I. JoeHasbro has actually been building a pretty cool comic book universe. Check out our interview with writer Aubrey Sitterson to learn about its crown jewel. However, the solo Transformers and G.I. Joe movies have all been terrible, even with Peter Cullen, The Rock, and Joseph Gordon-Cobra-Commander-Levitt. Combining them along with other toy properties like M.A.S.K. and Micronauts won’t fix the problem.Breakfast Cereal MascotsExamples: Count Chocula, Boo BerryThis isn’t the worst universe per se but a wasted one. Cereal monster mascots are such great characters why haven’t we learned more about them on film? Who made Frankenberry? How did Boo Berry die? This is a crime almost as severe as the continued lack of a Mac Tonight/Ronald McDonald/sexy Hamburglar team-up.THE CRAZIESTWho Framed Roger RabbitExamples: Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse in the same dang movieCartoon rabbits talking to real-life Bob Hoskins is already a pretty oddball starting point. But Who Framed Roger Rabbit earns the title of cartoon crossover king by featuring Looney Tunes and Disney stars in the same frames.The M. Night ShyamalaniverseExamples: Split, UnbreakableSpoiler alert but if you’ve seen the new M. Night Shyamalan film Split you’ll know it’s actually the origin story for a supervillain who exists in the same universe as Shyamalan’s superhero deconstruction Unbreakable. It’s only a matter of time before James McAvoy and Bruce Willis start punching.The Tommy Westphall UniverseExamples: Every TV show ever createdIn 1988 the TV show St. Elsewhere revealed the entire show was, in reality, taking place inside the head of autistic character Tommy Westphall. However, because St. Elsewhere crossed over with other shows, logic dictates those shows also take place in Tommy’s head. Take this theory to its logical conclusion, and you’ll soon realize that even you are just the figment of this imaginary person’s imagination. Thank late comic writer Dwayne McDuffie for this revelation.last_img