Everything that's happened up until now in Marvel's Cinematic Universe has built up to a single showdown. In 2018, the Avengers will finally face off against Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, where they'll fight over the Infinity Gems and the fate of the galaxy itself.
While it's been speculated that anyone from Mantis to Scarlet Witch could ultimately be the one to take the Mad Titan down, why don't Earths Mightiest Heroes just enlist the help of a Slayer to finish the job? That's what they're trained for after all.
Wait, hold up. Sure, we know that we're more likely to see Black Widow actually star in her own film than Buffy pop up in Avengers: Infinity War. But if timing and casting weren't an issue, Willow or another member of the Scooby gang could have potentially appeared to help Earth's Mightiest Heroes out.
After all, everyone knows that the Whedonverse and the MCU are connected, right? Right? Ok, before we begin to examine links between the two, let's explore exactly how the majority of Joss Whedon's films and shows are connected first.
The Original Shared Whedonverse Theory
A few years ago, an image popped up on Imgur that outlined how Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, and The Cabin in the Woods were all connected by the existence of potential slayers. The mind-blowing theory argued that each of these five Whedon projects simply occupied a different place within the same timeline that spans five hundred years.
Here's the official breakdown:
- 2003: All potential Slayers are activated at once to defeat the First. This ends a chain that had lasted for 5000 years. (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
- 2004: The LA chapter of Wolf Ram and Hart destroy the circle of the Black Thorn and begin to awaken the Senior Partners. (Angel)
- To prevent the apocalypse, The Initiative begins regular sacrifices to appease the Senior Partners. (Cabin In The Woods)
- 2012: The Initiative collapses and the sacrifices fail. (Cabin In The Woods)
- The senior partners are unleashed on earth, the earth gets used up. Wolfram and The Initiative evacuate some of humanity from earth. They join forces in the new colonies and form an Alliance. (Firefly)
- Hundreds of years later, a child is born with exceptional abilities. Initiative remnants recognise her as a potential and lure her to a special school. (Firefly)
- A Slayer had not been seen since Earth was lost. The Alliance tries to trigger any 'Potential' they can find in the hope of reclaiming Earth. (Firefly)
- Liberated from the Alliance program, the 'treatment' eventually takes hold. For the first time in 500 years, a Slayer is active. (Firefly)
And here's the theory in picture form for the illiterate among you who made it this far.
Does The Original Shared Whedonverse Theory Make Sense?
The recurring theme of powerful women rooted in the supernatural and secretive Government organisations in Whedon's work certainly make it easy to link each of these projects together. Considering that this is just a fan theory, the evidence holds together surprisingly well.
River's fighting abilities in Firefly are certainly reminiscent of a Slayer, and her prophetic powers also lend further credence to the theory. At first glance, one could argue that the Reavers could be descended from vampires or demons too, but their origins were revealed to be something far more human, yet tragic in the cinematic sequel to the show, Serenity. Given the time jump between Firefly and the 'earlier' works in the Whedonverse, there's space for a major event to occur which could explain why aliens aren't present in our favorite rebels' world.
While Whedon doesn't explicitly cross his shows over, aside from Buffy and Angel of course, there's enough evidence to suggest that he at least had the Slayer in the back of his mind when crafting new protagonists like Echo and River.
What About Dollhouse?
Out of everything else that Whedon has created, Eliza Dushku's sci-fi show Dollhouse remains a glaring omission in the shared Whedonverse theory. Since the original idea was posted, Reddit users have tried to connect the likes of Echo and the Rossum Corporation to Whedon's other shows, with some success.
In terms of the timeline, Dollhouse could have just taken place between 2003 and 2012, during which the Rossum Corporation tried to artificially create a Slayer's impulses and personality to imprint on an empty shell.
The potential issue here is the future-set epilogues that closed each season — The end of the world occurs rather quickly here, although of course you could argue that the final scene in Cabin In The Woods could have coincided with these 'Epitaph' episodes in a wider context. Echo briefly enjoyed a happy ending of sorts, but if you play around with the timings, Dollhouse could still fit.
But Where Do The Avengers And Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Fit Into This Theory?
It could easily be argued that The Initiative is a division of S.H.I.E.L.D., one of many government organisations created to protect the world from danger, whether the threats be scientific or supernatural in origin.
Sure, it's a bit harder to incorporate the Avengers into the Whedonverse, but Earth's Mightiest Heroes did appear after the events of Buffy, which is why there's no mention of their heroics beforehand. When the senior partners rise up at the end of Cabin In The Woods, the MCU heroes could take a crack at trying to save the world, but ultimately fail.
The issue here though is that Avengers is presumably set in 2012, the same year that the events from Cabin In The Woods took place. It's possible that the ancient beings were appeased by the deaths of Dana and Marty as the credits rolled, and the Avengers remained blissfully unaware of the impending doom as they fought the Battle of New York.
The Thor franchise introduced the idea of gods and immortal beings early on in the MCU's conception, and now that Dr Strange is on its way, magic and inter-dimensional travel are officially part of Marvel's films too. Whedon's work on The Avengers could potentially exist in the same world as the likes of Firefly and Dollhouse, or perhaps even in an alternate dimension that co-exists alongside these shows.
Awesome side note — If superheroes exist in the Whedonverse, Captain Hammer and Dr Horrible can't be far behind either, which means that Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog could be incorporated into the shared universe theory too.
Need More Proof?
So far, any connection between the MCU and the shared Whedonverse is theoretical in nature and can be easily dismissed, but one particular easter egg in Avengers: Age of Ultron suggests that there may be a more concrete link than previously presumed.
During the scene where Thor trips out and has visions of Asgard, three masked men briefly appear in the dinner hall, wearing bizarre animal headdresses. The moment passes by fleetingly, but if you take a closer look, you can see that the first one is a wolf, the second a ram and third a stag, often referred to as a hart.
Wolf. Ram. Hart. Wolfram & Hart. If that isn't a reference to the demonic law firm from Angel, I don't know what is. If taken literally, this vision implies that the evil forces behind Wolfram & Hart exist in the MCU too, providing a concrete connection between Whedon's work in Marvel to the shared Whedonverse at large.
Or, you know, it could just be a fun easter egg thrown in for the diehard fans. Although Joss did tell Screen Crush that he would avoid doing throwing in unnecessary details, as:
"It’s so hard for me to make a movie, especially this movie, I don’t spend a lot of time going, ‘You know what else would be hilarious?!"
Could Any Of Whedon's TV Characters Actually Appear In The MCU?
At the end of the day, any theoretical connections between the Whedonverse and MCU will never be explored beyond the occasional easter egg at best, and that's only if Whedon even delivers on his promise and actually returns to direct another Marvel film — Fingers crossed for that fabled Black Widow movie still.
Furthermore, the fact that Buffy has continued her adventures in comic book form for rival publisher Dark Horse casts even more doubt on the idea of seeing Whedon's creations ever make the leap over from TV to Marvel. While it's fun to imagine how properties like Angel and Firefly could cross over with the likes of Hulk and Captain America, it's almost guaranteed that these ideas will never see the light of day.
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Unless of course Chris Hemsworth's character from Cabin In The Woods was actually Thor in disguise and Woody's friends from Toy Story are really just vessels for demonic spirits. Oh and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing is a slayer, because, well, she's awesome.
While these last few ideas are clearly insane, it's fun to spot all of the potential connections and you've got to admit, some of them do make a lot of sense.
Just imagine Buffy and Tony Stark trying to out-quip each other while fighting off vampiric Hydra agents. This stuff just writes itself!
Can you spot any more connections between the shared Whedonverse and the MCU? Which crossovers would you like to see?