Zack Snyder & 7 Other Directors Who Created Their Own Cinematic Universes

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Summary

  • Zack Snyder is creating his own cinematic universe with his new film, Rebel Moon, tying it to his previous film, Army of the Dead.
  • Connecting seemingly unrelated films in the same universe is a growing practice among filmmakers, as seen with Ridley Scott’s Prometheus connecting to Blade Runner.
  • Filmmakers like Richard Linklater, Jacques Demy, and Kevin Smith have also crafted their own connected universes through recurring characters and themes.

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In a recent interview, filmmaker Zack Snyder confirmed that his new movie, Rebel Moon, takes place in the same universe as his Army of the Dead movie, making him one of a handful of directors to craft his own cinematic universe. Snyder is no stranger to cinematic universes as he was previously the key creative voice behind what was known at the time as the DCEU. However, this is different, as Snyder is crafting a universe based on his original films, and not adapting source material associated with an existing brand.

Many directors make direct sequels to their work, but what Snyder is doing here is different. Instead of making a follow-up to Army of the Dead, he is making a completely different movie and tying the two together in the same world. While it is highly unusual for a filmmaker to connect seemingly unrelated films, it’s happened several times before and seems to be a practice that’s growing in popularity.

8 Richard Linklater

The “Before” Characters In Waking Life

Céline and Jesse talk in bed in Waking Life.

Over 18 years and three movies, the Before trilogy tells the story of Jesse and Céline as they meet, separate, and meet again. Richard Linklater’s trilogy on love and lost connections would be impressive enough on its own, but Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprised their roles in Linklater’s other film, Waking Life. The Before characters have a brief section in this rotoscoped animated film where they talk about the dreams they have about each other. In the reality of Before films, this is just a dream one of them has, but it is one of the more unique ways to craft a universe.

Before Midnight

Release Date
May 24, 2013

Director
Richard Linklater

Cast
Ethan Hawke

Rating
r

Runtime
109minutes

Genres
Romance, Drama

7 Ridley Scott

Prometheus Connects Alien To Blade Runner

There have been theories that Ridley Scott’s two biggest sci-fi films take place in the same world for decades, but it wasn’t until 2012’s Prometheus that it was confirmed. On a DVD bonus feature, a log about Peter Weyland talks about Blade Runner‘s Tyrell and his pyramid. It seems that the two evil corporations are in some way connected. Scott seemed to be very insistent that the two films are connected, both thematically and in terms of a larger universe, but this doesn’t take into account Blade Runner‘s connection to the movie Soldier, or how Alien has crossed over with Predator.

Prometheus

Release Date
June 8, 2012

Director
Ridley Scott

Cast
Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Michael Fassbender

Rating
R

Runtime
2h 4m

Genres
Sci-Fi, Horror, Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery

Writers
Jon Spaihts, Damon Lindelof

6 Jacques Demy

Lola/Umbrellas Of Cherbourg/Model Shop

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg Ending

Master of color and icon of the French new wave, Jacques Demy made some of the most eye-popping films of all time. Through three movies, Demy weaved characters in and out of romance and heartbreak. The first film, Lola, follows Roland and his ex-girlfriend Lola, who has since become a cabaret dancer. In The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, Roland becomes a supporting character in the romance of Geneviève and Guy, while in the final film, Model Shop, an English language movie, Lola becomes the main character as she moves to Los Angeles.

5 Robert Rodriguez

The Machete Universe

In one of the more surprising cinematic connections, the Spy Kids franchise takes place in the same world as the Machete movies. Director Robert Rodriguez has had an ecliptic filmography, ranging from wacky kids’ films to violent action spectacles, but the two worlds share a connection in the form of Danny Trejo’s Machete. In the Spy Kids movies, he is portrayed as a loving uncle, but in his own movies, he is a bloodthirsty man out for revenge. It is a strange connection, but a fun one, especially for adults who grew up on the Spy Kids movies.

Related: Machete In Space Possibility Addressed By Robert Rodriguez

4 M. Night Shyamalan

Unbreakable/Split

First known as the master of twists, one of the greatest surprises M. Night Shyamalan ever pulled was at the end of his 2017 film Split, where it was revealed that the film took place in the same world as 2000’s Unbreakable. This wasn’t just an Easter egg for fans of the grounded superhero film, but a twist that recontextualized the entire movie. This was a world of superheroes and while it may have just seemed like a horror movie, it was an origin story all along. The two films crossed over more in Glass, as Shyamalan put a bow on his superhero trilogy.

Glass

Release Date
January 18, 2019

Director
M. Night Shyamalan

Cast
Luke Kirby, Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlayne Woodard, Sarah Paulson, Spencer Treat Clark

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
129 minutes

Genres
Mystery, Drama, Sci-Fi

3 Kevin Smith

The View Askewniverse

Jay and Bob on the street in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Kevin Smith broke onto the indie film scene in the early 90s with his potent mix of characters, wacky dialogue, and nerd culture. Clerks is still a milestone for independent filmmaking, and after that film’s success, Smith decided to stay in that world for a while. His next several films took place in what he calls the “View Askewniverse”, mostly being connected by the inclusion of stoners Jay and Silent Bob. While Smith mostly closed the book on the Askewniverse with Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, he has occasionally returned to it with Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob sequels.

Every Movie In The View Askewniverse

Year

Clerks

1994

Mallrats

1995

Chasing Amy

1997

Dogma

1999

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

2001

Clerks II

2006

Jay & Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie!

2013

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

2019

Clerks III

2022

Jay and Silent Bob also have a cameo in Scream 3, tying them to that universe.

2 Quintin Tarantino

Most Of His Filmography

With nine films as a director, and a handful of others as only a screenwriter, Quintin Tarantino has inserted connections between almost all of his cinematic work. Through character relations, brands that appear, and background Easter eggs, Tarantino has crafted an entire universe. The director also claims that in his world, there are two distinct worlds, the Realer than Real Universe and the Movie Movie Universe. The idea is that a film like Kill Bill would be a movie within the world of Pulp Fiction that the characters could go watch.

1 Zack Snyder

Rebel Moon & Army of the Dead

Collage of the poster for Rebel Moon and a zombie from Army of the Dead

As noted above, the upcoming Rebel Moon and Army of the Dead share a cinematic universe. The post-apocalyptic zombie movie generated so much success for Netflix that it led to a spinoff titled Army of Thieves. A sequel, Planet of the Dead, is also in the works at Netflix. But while Rebel Moon, as a science fiction epic, differs both in tone and in genre – from Snyder’s zombie projects, the characters from the two movies exist in the same world nonetheless. As explained by Zack Snyder, one of the characters from the unmade Army of the Dead animated series appears at a bar in Rebel Moon. Whether Rebel Moon contains an Easter egg or anything specific to Army of the Dead that fully reveals the connection remains to be seen.