Marvel may have popularized the idea of the cinematic shared universe trope but the fact is that the concept has been around for a long time; ask Bryan Fuller who is responsible for various critically acclaimed television series such as Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me, Hannibal and American Gods.
It is a known fact that most (if not all) of Bryan Fuller’s series occurs in the same universe which he occasionally not-so-subtly hints at.
The concept of a shared universe is gaining so much traction in the entertainment industry because it is a unique to link characters worlds, explore grand stories and it seems to be a fan favourite.
Basically, a shared Universe is the fictional universe or reality in which several independent works of fiction take place. The works of fiction that take place in this universe can effortless stand alone as well as seamless fit into the overall fictional universe.
However, this should not be mistaken for ‘collaborative writing’ which is essentially several writers working on the same work.
The shared universe trope is common in comics, movies, television series and novels. Below is a list of some of the most common shared universe in media.
Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)
Marvel as previously mentioned, was not the first to execute this idea, but it is safe to say they did it best, popularizing the shared universe concept. Marvel’s cinematic universe started with 2008’s hit Iron Man has continued to grow since then.
With later additions like Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, the first phase of the MCU culminated in 2012’s The Avengers which became, at the time, the biggest cinematic event of all time.
Later additions to the franchise include Doctor Strange, Guardians of The Galaxy, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man and many more to come.
DC Extended Universe (DCEU)
The success of the MCU shared reality spurred DC to create their long awaited franchise. DC found previous success with the Dark Knight trilogy but the DCEU is a complete world of its own.
With movies such as Suicide Squad, Man Of Steel, Batman Vs Superman; Dawn of Justice, the DCEU found commercial success despite persistent negative reviews.
However, future additions such as Wonderwoman, Aquaman, Shazam, Cyborg and The Flash prove that this fan favourite franchise is going nowhere.
Iron Fist, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, The Defenders, The Punisher all take place in this gritty universe. The source material is from Marvel and it explores the darker world of its street level heroes such as blind Matt Murdock (Daredevil).
The Marvel-Netflix universe thrives because of its excellent cast, stellar writing and the finesse with which it addresses darker topics. Its theme is particularly noted because of its stark opposition to the MCU’s lighter tone.
Arrowverse (DC Television)
This Greg Berlanti’s universe began with superhero television series Arrow which follows the life of billionaire playboy-turned-vigilante, Oliver Queen. Arrow was met with great reviews which led to its spin off The Flash, which follows Barry Allen, who gets struck by lightning and becomes the fastest man alive.
The Flash takes place in the fictional ‘Central City’ and adopts a much lighter tone than its predecessor although, it deals with much darker subject matters as the series proceeds.
Legends of Tomorrow was the next addition to the franchise. Legends of Tomorrow is a spinoff of both The Flash and Arrow and features both heroes and villains from both series including – Captain Cold, Heatwave, Atom, White Canary, Vixen, Commander Steel and Rip Hunter (a new character introduced for the series).
The next addition was the girl of steel herself – Supergirl. Supergirl not only takes place in another city (National City) but in another universe – Earth 32 of the multiverse, to be exact.
We would explain the multiverse of the Arrowverse but honestly, you don’t have the time. Supergirl tells the story of Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El, who dorns on the superhero cape before an accident threatening her sister’s life forces her to reveal herself (in order to save her sister) as super powered.
There are a lot of shared universes in Media today and we could go on and on, but as an exercise in self-control, honorary mentions go to:
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Lego – The Lego Movie, The Lego Batman Movie, The Lego Ninjago Movie, The Lego Movie sequel and the Billion Brick Race coming soon. It is important to note that this list does not include the direct to video movies (which are quite literally too numerous to mention), the short films, TV specials, and television series.
Monsterverse – Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island. Godzilla: King of Monsters and Godzilla vs Kong will be added to the franchise soon.
X-Men Cinematic Universe – X Men, Deadpool, X Men: The Last Stand, X Men: First Class, Logan, X-Men: Apocalypse, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and more. New Mutants, Deadpool 2 and Dark Phoenix are to be added to the franchise.
Star Wars Universe – Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of The Jedi, Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars II: Attack Of The Clones, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars III: The Revenge Of The Sith, Star Wars: The Force Awaken, : Star Wars The Last Jedi, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. More will be added to this universe in the coming years.
Stargate Franchise – Stargate, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Infinity, Stargate: The Ark of Truth, Stargate Unniverse, Stargate: Continuum
Potterverse – Harry potter and The Philosopher’s stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s phone in some markets), Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets, Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire, Harry Potter and The Order of Phoenix, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt 1, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows pt 2.
Star Trek (TrekVerse) – Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Beyond, Star Trek: Into The Darkness, Star Trek V: The final Frontier Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Star Trek: Nemesis and a couple more movies.
Surprisingly, this list does not include the current cinematic universes currently in development.