CANON BALL Z: POINTS OF ORIGIN
This is the first is a hopefully continual series about the connective threads in contemporary storytelling, why every property these days has to be part of a shared universe, and why shared universes and box office receipts shouldn’t be used as quality indicators.
Also, I wanted to write about movies :)
If you’re going to write a ‘thank you’ card to Kevin Feige for his masterful construction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), don’t.
Also, don’t write it to Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man (2008), the first official film entry in the MCU.
Don’t write it to Robert Downey Jr., who plays playboy engineer-turned-philanthropic-but-still-misanthropic-Avenger Tony Stark, and don’t write it to Stan Lee, who, along with Larry Leiber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby, brought Tony Stark to life in Marvel Comics way back in 1963.
Instead, write it to Danny Glover.
Or better still, track down Jim and John Thomas and thank them.
They’re the guys who wrote Predator 2 (1990).
Character crossovers in story and myth have been present since we started sharing narratives.
They’ve been happening since Greco-Roman deities bounded hither, thither and yon across Mount Olympus; trying to woo, kidnap or kill each other with every tale.
Comic books, introduced in the early 1930’s, further popularized the crossover. Heroes joined forces to battle an unstoppable villain, villains joined forces to eliminate an unconquerable hero, and the two opposing sides pitched epic battles across panels and pages and years.
Last, toward the end of the 20th century, artists such as Tim Hardaway, Allen Iverson and Jamal Crawford elevated the crossover to a move of near poetic proportions…
…Wait. Wrong crossover. Sorry.
So why should Jim and John Thomas get all the ‘Thank You’ cards?
Because at the end of the film, when Danny Glover boards the Predator vessel for the prerequisite ‘Final Battle,’ he comes upon a trophy room of sorts, where the Predators have mounted the skulls of past prey.
With shock and horror, he eyes a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull, and several human skulls.
But also on the wall — a Xenomorph skull; also known as the Creature from Alien (1979), the seminal sci-fi movie directed by Ridley Scott, responsible for the face-hugger, chest-bursting and Sigourney Weaver.
The original Predator, released in 1987 and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, made no mention of a Xenomorph, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation or Ellen Ripley.
But did a world — a universe, even — exist where the two nearly indestructible monsters shared the same space?
Now, neither Ridley Scott nor any of the other members of the creative team had anything to do with the writing or production of Predator 2.
In fact, Ridley had nothing to do with Aliens (1986), the sequel to his own film. Written and directed by James Cameron, Aliens received acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
Furthermore, both Aliens and Predator 2 feature the late Bill Paxton — in different roles.
Absolutely none of the scene involving Danny Glover catching sight of a Xenomorph skull was, in the words of the Joker, “part of the plan.”
There was no plan.
But this is where the idea starts — the multi-billion dollar, empire-forming idea that what we thought as wholly separate threads might, in some bizarre, kismet fashion, unite.
And out of such unity — we discover Identity and Motivation — the answers to “Who,” “What,” “When,” “Where,” “Why” and “How.”
And from those answers — from Canon — we achieve Resolution…Clarity…
…Or at least, that’s the hope.