Thanks to Marvel Studios, movie crossovers have become a fairly common occurrence in cinema today — at least in the superhero genre. But what’s much more interesting is when movies that you had no idea were connected are somehow bridged by a common link or imaginative affiliation. Proof of these connections often come in form of little nods, easter eggs, and sometime a common character or two. So if you’re interested in exploring some of the more surprising links between stand alone movies and film franchises, take a look at these 17 seemingly unrelated movies you probably had no idea existed in the same universe.
8. Transformers & G.I. Joe
Recently, some people on the internet have been getting upset after hearing rumors that the next Transformers movie will feature the newest incarnations of G.I. Joe. But what those people probably aren’t aware of is that G.I. Joe and Transformers have always existed in the same universe.
Even if you overlook the fact that the toys were both Hasboro products, the two franchises have appeared in comic book and even cartoon crossovers since the 80s. So, in a way, they’re a little like X-Men and The Avengers, in that they probably should have already been in movies together.
7. Star Wars & E.T.
George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg are famous friends. So when Spielberg was working on E.T. in the early 80s, Lucas asked him if he could include a Yoda cameo in the film to help promote Return of the Jedi, which came out a year after E.T.
Spielberg obliged and the cameo came in the form of a little boy in a Halloween costume that E.T. tried to follow while chanting “home, home, home.” Some people took this as an indication that E.T. recognized Yoda as a species from “home.” Lucas confirmed the speculation when he returned the favor to Spielberg by including three E.T.-looking aliens at the senate meeting in A Phantom Menace. Over time, the aliens were indeed confirmed to be of the same Asogian race as E.T.
Lucas even took his tribute one step further by naming the leader of the trio Senator Grebleips, which is Spielberg spelled backwards.
6. Trading Places & Coming to America
In the 70s and 80s, John Landis was probably the best comedy director around and one of his finest achievements was the Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd movie Trading Places. The prince to pauper comedy tells the story of an upper-class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives become intertwined when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet agreed upon by the exceedingly wealthy Randolph and Mortimer Duke. Upon learning of the scheme, Murphy and Aykroyd join forces to bring down the loathsome Duke brothers in a fraud set-up which ends up costing them $394 million, ultimately ruining them.
Fast forward five years to Landis’ 1988 comedy Coming to America, and we again see Eddie Murphy, only this time he’s playing an African prince who has journeyed to America so that he might experience a more modest lifestyle rather than the royal pampering he was used to at home. A key plot piece in the movie is that Prince Akeem (Murphy) gives away the fortune in spending money that was issued to him by his father so that he might live like a “normal person.” In one scene Akeem is shown giving his money to two homeless men and then quickly continuing on his way without giving it a second thought. But as he walks away, one of the two men looks up and exclaims “Mortimer! We’re back!” Proving that the two men are actually the Duke brothers from Trading Places who have apparently been living on the streets for the past six years since their downfall.
5. Conan & Cthulhu
Okay, technically this is more of a literary reference than a movie reference so forgive us for going slightly outside the specified the criteria.
Though a Conan/Cthulhu connection might seem highly unlikely given that one is a musclebound fantasy warrior and the other is an iconic monster from horror tales, it might make more sense when you realize that the two 20th-century writers who created the characters were actually best buds.
H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard (the creator of Conan) published many of their most famous stories in a pulp magazine called Weird Tales. By the 1930s they had become great friends and started making references to each other’s work in their stories. For instance, in one of the very early Conan stories, Howard makes reference to Lovecraft’s “Old Ones” and even went so far as to name Cthulhu directly in the original draft. Meaning that Conan’s adventures have been a part of the Cthulhu mythos from the beginning.
Lovecraft also included several shout-outs to Conan in his original Cthulhu stories. In Shadow Out of Time, there’s a character called Crom-Ya who was once the chief of Cimmeria. Anyone who’s seen Conan The Barbarian starring Arnold Schwarzenegger should be well aware that Conan hails from Cimmeria and worships the deity Crom.
In addition, Howard’s Serpent Men of Valusia (the green guys Conan is constantly seen battling in his 90s cartoon show) are directly mentioned in The Haunter of the Dark — another story from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos.
4. Caddyshack & Ghostbusters & Casper
More often than not, by the time a movie finalizes it’s production there are few scenes that have to be left on the cutting room floor. In the case of Ghostbusters, there’s one deleted scene in particular that fans of Harold Ramis movies would have loved to see left in. In it, Rick Moranis’ character is running through a park trying to escape a demon dogs when he passes by two bums played by Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd. But before he zips past them, we see the bums engaged in a debate about the likely winner of a fight between heavyweight boxer and a “good karate guy.” In this discussion, as Murray speaks with exaggerated facial expression and an extremely recognizable drawl, it immediately becomes apparent that he’s in the persona of Carl Spackler, the iconic greenkeeper with a gopher problem from the comedy classic Caddyshack.
And Caddyshack isn’t the only movie that Ghostbusters overlaps with. In the 1995 live-action adaptation of Casper, Dan Aykroyd shows up for a cameo as his ghost bustin’ counterpart Ray Stantz. But evidently Casper’s three jerkface uncles proved too much for a single proton pack to handle as Stantz is seen running out of the house and saying, “Who you gonna call? Someone else.”
3. Spy Kids & Machete
Considering Robert Rodriguez has a role for Danny Trejo in pretty much all of his movies, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Trejo became the star of Rodriguez’s ultra violent fake-movie-trailer-turned-feature, Machete, or that he has a small part in Rodriguez’s family-friendly action-comedy Spy Kids. However, you might be wonderfully surprised to learn that Trejo actually plays the same character in both of those films.
In Spy Kids, Trejo plays the uncle of the titular characters who runs a spy shop and makes gadgets that come in handy on espionage missions. Though his role gradually diminished in the sequels to the point where audiences probably forgot he was even in the movies, in 2007 Trejo was prominently featured as a machete wielding Mexican out for revenge in the Tarantino/Rodriguez double-feature collaboration Grindhouse. Three years later, Rodriguez turned Machete into a full-length feature loaded with craggy Mexican manliness and with over-the-top violence.
It was later revealed that Rodriguez had always intended Machete to be portrayed by Trejo, and that he wanted to turn him into the “Mexican Jean-Claude Van Damme,” by putting him in a movie of his own every year. Unfortunately, he got a little side tracked so the first project in which Machete could be included was as a bit-part in Spy Kids. Un-coincidentally, the name of the gadget store that Trejo’s character owns in Spy Kids is called Machete Spy Shop.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Daredevil
According to Daredevil’s origin story, when he was young he saved a blind man from getting hit by a truck, and, in the process, was hit in the face by a canister or radioactive goo that fell off the same truck. Though the radioactive substance left him blind, it heightened his other senses to superhuman levels and enabled him to become a heroic crimefighter. But does anyone know what happened to that canister after it smashed Daredevil in the face? Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird do.
Eastman and Laird were huge Daredevil fans, especially the issues done by Frank Miller, so when they came up with the an idea for their own comic book, they not only borrowed Daredevil’s origin story, they wrote their characters directly into it.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, we see the exact same scene, only from a different perspective. The radioactive canister hits the boy in the head near his eyes, just like in Daredevil #1, only now we that same canister fall into a sewer where it comes into contact with some baby turtles.
Of course, for copyright purposes, the boy is never explicitly identified as the future Daredevil, but it’s pretty obvious that it was intended to be the same kid.
1. Alien & Blade Runner
Ridley Scott is a juggernaut in the world of sci-fi cinema. Before he found success with The Martian, he gave us the classics Alien and Blade Runner, which are largely regarded as two of the best sci-fi movies ever made. And while Scott didn’t have the rights to connect both of those movies at the time of their release, he’s repeatedly stated that he considers the gritty urban world of Blade Runner to be the Earth that the crew of the Nostromo (from Alien) were fighting to get back to.
A more definitive connection between the two movies was finally revealed after an Easter egg was discovered on the Prometheus DVD, which included a message from Peter Weyland — the CEO of Weyland Corp. in the Alien franchise who is responsible for producing the human-like robots who are allegedly built to serve human needs. The message exposes a communication between Weyland and a mentor/competitor who offers to join forces in order to perfect their quest for robotic perfection. It describes a man with a God complex, watching over his creations from his tower, but that it “blew up in his face.” Fans were quick to note that this description bears a striking similarity to that of Dr. Eldon Tyrell, the head of the Tyrell Corporation, who was killed by one of his own robotic creations in Blade Runner.