Ultimate Cinematic Universe Cheat Sheet!
There has been a great change taking place in the world of movies these days, and you have probably been wondering what this next step in cinema evolution means. The ever popular Franchise™ has evolved and its not just sequels and prequels that we are talking about anymore. Now studios are doing everything they can to have the next successful cinematic universe. The definition of this newfound phenomenon is a group of films with independent storylines and casts that reference and influence each other by taking place in a fictional space with a shared continuity. So basically what happens in one film affects all the others. Some that come to mind are Marvel, Star Wars, and DC, but that is just the beginning. But before you get overwhelmed, we have a solid breakdown of everything you need to know about the trend that has become all the rage within the film industry.
Here’s our quick guide on all the cinematic universes Hollywood has going on right now!
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Marvel is the reason you see Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers everywhere you go. There have been over 20 films that make up the MCU legacy (so far), with most recent titles Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and The Wasp hitting theaters and making big gains for their studio, and also includes in its frame of reference the ABC series "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.". Next up on the roster from the one that started it all is the first Marvel solo female adventure Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, which will then lead up to the highly-anticipated Avengers 4. Both of these titles will be coming your way in 2019.
DC Extended Universe
Trailing right behind Marvel is rival publisher DC Comics. While this Universe contains such iconic heroes as Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, it has not been as successful as Marvel. So far, only Wonder Woman has been a critical and box office success, while Suicide Squad, Batman v. Superman, and Justice League all performed well below expectations. DC has changed up its strategy and hopes to bounce back with titles like Aquaman, which comes out in December, as well as Shazam! and a Wonder Woman sequel to come out next year. There are many other DC films on the way too, such as Birds of Prey, a Joker Origin film, Supergirl, and many more. In the meantime, the television branch of the DCEU, known as the Arrowverse, is doing quite well, featuring such TV series on The CW as "Supergirl", "The Flash", and, of course, "Arrow".
The Monsterverse solely revolves around Godzilla and the monsters he tangles with. Along with his signature crew of giant beasts, which include Mothra, Rhodan, and Ghidorah, the King of Monsters will also deal with another iconic giant in King Kong. 2014’s Godzilla kicked off this franchose and 2017’s Kong Skull: Island made it official that other monsters would be on the way. Next up on the roster is Godzilla: King of Monsters, where Godzilla will take on some of his franchise's most epic opponents. The upcoming film stars “Stranger Things”'s Millie Bobby Brown, as well as Vera Farmiga and Kyle Chandler. Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins will be reprising their roles from the 2014 movie. After that, fans will get to see an epic showdown in King Kong vs. Godzilla, that will be directed by Death Note’sAdam Wingard.
The Conjuring Universe (Conjurverse)
The talented folks at Blumhouse, who are behind such hit franchises as The Purge and Paranormal Activity, have created a shared universe born from James Wan’s 2013 hit horror film The Conjuring. This universe revolves around Ed and Lorraine Warren, a pair of famous paranormal investigators, and the cases they took on. The Conjuring has garnered a sequel as well as two Annabelle spinoffs and a film called The Nun to be released this September. A third Conjuring film is in the works as well as a third Annabelle film. The Crooked Man is the next terrifying tale to come from this horrifying cinematic universe somewhere down the road.
The Kingsman Universe
Matthew Vaughn blew fans away with his amazing fights sequences in his first two Kingsman movies. The director flipped the spy genre on its head and is looking to start production on a third Kingsman film to begin production this January in the U.K. Vaughn also has plans for another film called Kingsman: The Great Game, which would give fans a glimpse of the Kingsman organization in the early 20th century. He has also expressed interest in a Statesman movie, possibly starring Channing Tatum, about the spy organization's American counterpart. An 8-hour television series is also in the director’s sights to continue his badass new spy world.
X-Men/Deadpool Cinematic Universe
Its pretty safe to say everyone’s aware of the X-Men films, where Sir Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy play Professor X and Magneto is portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender. They seem like they’ve been around forever with Hugh Jackman never aging as Wolverine, and the timelines can get a little confusing, but the mutants are very much still in the game. But now their future is in question. All of these guys answer to a new leader with Disney gaining control of these iconic Marvel properties. It will be interesting to see what the mouse does with Deadpool and the X-Men franchises. Two current X-Men films slated to release are that of Dark Phoenix, which stars “Game of Thrones” actress Sophie Turner, and New Mutants which stars “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams. Both Phoenix and New Mutants have both been pushed back to release in 2019. Disney will reportedly release all X-Men movies that are completed or in production.
Universal has attempted to get their classic monsters shared universe off the ground a few times now and haven’t been able to make it work. Dracula Untold was thought to have been the debut of the Dark Universe, but after it drew poor reception form both critics and fans, it received a steak through the heart. Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella attempted to restart this endeavor with a new take on The Mummy that also did not go well with audiences. At one point, Johnny Depp was to play The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem was going to play Frankenstein, but now Universal is attempting to reconfigure their strategy before moving forward with any new titles. Hopefully they can find a way to get back on track in order to revive such classics as The Werewolf or The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Regardless of what the haters tell you, the Dark Universe lives!
Call of Duty Universe
This Universe is still in development, but the popular video game franchise will be getting the cinematic universe treatment. Activision Blizzard studios are developing a series of films based on the Call of Duty franchises such as “Black Ops” and “Modern Warfare”. The films will match the games' intensity and compelling plot lines.
The Fast and Furious Universe (Furiverse?)
What once started out as simple drag race for pink slips has turned into Ocean’s 11 on steroids with a crazy shot of Nitrous. Vin Diesel and his family have now officially stepped into shared universe territory as a spinoff starring The Rock and Jason Statham, Hobbs & Shaw, will be releasing next year. This, along with the events of Tokyo Drift (Han’s death) directly affecting the events of Furious 7, the introduction of Jason Statham’s character officially hit on all the necessary parameters in becoming a cinematic universe. Universal claims there are at least two more Fast films to come out, which could have the street racing heist franchise go into space.
Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters (SUMC)
Sony currently has access to 900 Marvel characters revolving around the popular Spider-Man character, so naturally anyone with this many comic book characters in their back pocket would definitely want a shared universe. This name, however, is probably the worst one on this entire list, but the titles it promises with the actors that are attaching are very intriguing. Tom Hardy will kick things off playing the popular antihero Venom that releases in theaters this October. This will then be followed by Academy Award winner Jared Leto’s portrayal of Morbius, a Living Vampire. Spike Lee is also in talks to bring the antihero Nightwatch to life. After announcing this gem of a name for their shared universe, Sony went on to list off several more iconic Spider-Man characters on the way, including Silk, Jackpot, Kraven The Hunter, Silver Sable, and Black Cat.
Hasbro Cinematic Universe
Get ready to get your '80s nostalgia fix in hard as a Hasbro Cinematic Universe is in the works which could end up containing a who’s who of old school properties such as M.A.S.K., G.I. Joe, Micronauts, Visionaries, and even The Transformers. A Rom: Space Knight film was announced back in 2016, and Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray is said to be attached to helm the M.A.S.K. film. Along with these titles, the upcoming spinoff Bumblebee could serve as a stealth retcon similar to what X-Men: First Class did for its franchise, allowing it to enter a shared space with these properties. And to top that, once Hasbro closes its deal with Saban, the Power Rangers could even become a part of this universe. This one is still in development, but if you grew up with any of these properties, keep your fingers crossed it becomes a reality.
Valiant Comics Universe
A smaller comic publisher then the likes of Marvel and DC, Valiant comics focuses heavily on story and character development. This is Sony’s other shared universe in development, which promises to be something fans won’t get from their competitors. This universe will start with franchise favorite Vin Diesel taking on the role of Bloodshot, a solider enhanced by Nanotech that promises to have a very sci-fi tone with plenty of action as well. It has also been hinted that Dave Bautista from Guardians of the Galaxy may be playing the Eternal Warrior in his own adaptation, but that’s just speculation at this point. Other films in the series would be popular Valiant titles such as Harbringer, Faith, Archer and Armstrong, and Shadow Man, which will all eventually lead up to Harbinger Wars hopefully playing out like Infinity War for the studio.
Star Wars Universe
A long time ago, back in the late-1970s, a film changed the way we watched movies and has built one very expansive universe full of stories that are yet to be told. The long-running Star Wars universe is just getting started. After eight episodes, with the ninth one looking to close out the Skywalker saga which previous titles focused on, this franchise has stood the test of time, a few bad films, and even survived a very necessary reboot with its latest Episodes (The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi). A new trilogy from Episode VIII director Rian Johnson is in development along with a rumored Boba Fett film in the works that will delve deeper into storylines outside of what has already been covered in subsequent films. The spinoff films have received mixed receptions, with Rogue One, a heist film about the gaining of the plans for the Death Star, doing very well with audiences. However, the follow-up spinoff, Solo, did not fare so well. An origin of Harrison Ford’s character was not a total loss but performed poorly compared to other titles. Disney will be more cautious moving forward when it comes to spinoffs. Along with all these films, two new cartoon series, “Resistance” and the recently revived “Clone Wars”, are also canon and have drastically affected the newer films. A new live-action series from director Jon Favreau will continue to expand the Star Wars Universe with a whopping budget of $100 million. The SWU is unique because it actually has two different parallel expanded universes, known as Canon and Legends. Much of the Extended Universe was abandoned when Disney bought Lucasfilm and a new Canon was created.
Cloverfield Cinematic Universe
This is probably the most confusing of all the shared universes because they technically don’t exist in the same universe. The working theory amongst most fans is that each film is in a different version of earth in a different dimension throughout the Multiverse. The found footage film Cloverfield from 2008, which showcases a monster attack on Earth, is in fact somehow connected to the Dan Trachtenberg horror film 10 Cloverfield Lane, which ends up having strange aliens invading Earth. How, you ask? Well, these events were apparently set off in The Cloverfield Paradox, which premiered on Netflix after this year’s Super Bowl, which is when a space station inexplicably triggers a massive disruption in the space-time continuum and causes the events of all three. The way this universe differs from others is, it's open to so much interpretation and really keeps the anticipation high waiting to see what surprise pops up next from the J.J. Abrams's mysterious universe of Cloverfield.
Stephen King Universe (Kingematic Universe)
The final universe on our list is that of the iconic Stephen King, which one of our YH writers has so appropriately dubbed the “Kingematic” universe. While his films aren’t directly linked and are done by different studios, there always remains a strong connection between any works of King’s that make the transition to live-action. Most recently this was seen in the 2017 films IT and The Dark Tower. Both films had references to each other and many other famous Stephen King titles. Even the TV shows that have recently released, such as "11.22.63", "Mr. Mercedes", and "Castle Rock", are chock full of easter eggs, nods, and connections to almost all of Stephen King’s stories. Next up to come out in cinemas for King is the highly anticipated follow-up IT: Chapter 2 with its all-star grown-up cast, which features Jessica Chastain. Also on deck is the long-awaited sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep, which will star Ewan McGregor as an adult version of Danny Torrance. It will be interesting to see which references we see from such memorable horror titles as Cujo, Carrie, Pet Cemetery, and The Shining make it into these upcoming titles. Long live the “Kingematic” Universe!
Now you should be able to hold your own entering any of these cinematic universes and be prepared for whatever amazing stories they throw at you. Enjoy!
(Image via Warner Bros. Pictures)
- D.J. Rivera, YH Contributing Writer