We have long loved the idea that our fictions take place in some sort of consistent alternate universe—that there are unexpected tunnels between our favorite films and books and shows. Whether it’s the xenomorph from Alien showing up as a trophy in the Predator’s spaceship or the grand connective tissue between all Tarantino movies, we love to retrofit plot to justify what is in reality much less sexy: filmmakers goofing off, reusing props or nodding in the direction of a previous work.
The collected oeuvre of the Pixar movies has been drawn together numerous times, perhaps nowhere most famously as with the Pizza Planet truck, which has appeared in almost all of their movies. A few years back, all of their plots were connected into one overarching, frankly insane narrative called The Pixar Theory, which has since been updated as the studio continues to produce new films. As if egging these maniacs on, Disney has released a video isolating many instances of overlap between the movies.
Lo, it is The Good Dinosaur, appearing in Inside Out! The monsters of Monsters, Inc. in Brave! And so on. Is this merely a small group of unified filmmakers working in concert and riffing on decades of shared creative material? Or is it the gradual unveiling of a Marvel-like cinematic universe, to be unveiled in a vast Team Pixar tetralogy in 2023? Shared-universe conspiracy theorists will not rest, either way.