Arrested Development and Avengers: Infinity War

Arrested Development (2003–2006, 2013 -     )
The Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Type: Crossover
Group 2

   I don't normally get into theatrical films crossovers but sometimes they impact television and I have no choice. And as epic as Avengers: Infinity Wars is as a film, one tiny moment has just as epic an impact on shared TV universes.

   Infinity War was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. Before making the jump to feature films, the Russo Brothers did a lot of work in TV and they enjoy giving winks in their films to their TV shows. So, for example, they gave Danny Pudi from the show Community a cameo in their film Captain America: The Winter Solider. He didn't play the same character though so no crossover. Then, in Captain America: Civil War they threw in a wink to the show Arrested Development. Arrested Development told the story of the wealthy Bluth family falling on hard times as their father is arrested and their assets are frozen. The family even lost access to their private jet. To board the jet the family had a stair car, literally a car with stairs on it that could be driven up to the side of the plane. While they lost many things, the family was able to keep the stair car. A lot of joke center on their driving the stair car around.

   A major battle in Civil War takes place at an airport so in the background the Russo Brothers snuck in the Bluth stair car. Crossover? Line call. It sure looks like the stair car but at stair cars are a thing so lacking a clear shot of the Bluth name on the car it's hard to say for sure the stair car is the Bluth stair car.

   Which brings us to Infinity War. The film is all about the super powered alien Thanos trying to collect the six Infinity Stones that will allow him to control all of reality. Then, in a "humanitarian" act he plans to kill half of all life in the universe thus allowing more resources to support the remaining life.

   As the film starts, the Reality Stone is in the possession of an alien called The Collector who literally collects rare and unique items and beings from across the universe. In his first appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, The Collector's collection included a number of Marvel Comics characters as Easter Eggs, including Howard the Duck, Cosmo the Space Dog, and a cocoon that likely contained the character Adam Warlock. In Infinity War, Thanos confronts The Collector for the Reality Stone in the middle of his collection as The Guardians of the Galaxy sneak up on them. In one shot, as Gamora is moving through the collection, in a chamber behind her there is an odd figure that is part of the collection. It's a bald man with glasses and a mustache colored entirely blue and wearing jean shorts. Blink and you'll miss him. That figure is a crazy important Easter Egg. That figure is Tobias Fünke from Arrested Development.

   On Arrested Development, Tobias Fünke was the husband of Lindsay Blume Fünke and one of the weirdest characters on the show, and there were a lot of weird characters. Bald and bespectacled, Tobias started out as a psycho-analyst and therapist who decided he wanted to be an actor. One of the shows running jokes was that he might be gay. He never actively did anything gay but he would constantly say things that accidentally sounded gay or get into situations that seemed gay. As part of his desire to be in show business he tried to join the Blue Man Group, painting himself blue ("I blue myself!"). After that throughout the series he would often end up painted blue, just like in Infinity War. Tobias was also a Never Nude. He suffered from a condition where he never allowed himself to be completely naked. Even in the shower he would wear cutoff jean shorts, just like in Infinity War. In an extra irony, one plot on season 4 of Arrested Development had Tobias trying to put on a musical version of The Fantastic Four, another Marvel Comic. He ended up dressing up like several members of the group.

   Why is Tobias being in Infinity War a big deal? First of all, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a big place, including not only tons of movies but multiple TV shows including ABC's Agents of SHIELD and The Inhumans as well as the Netflix shows, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher. Seeing as Arrested Development ended up as a Netflix produced show it could even be considered a Netflix Marvel series (kinda). On top of that, Arrested Development already had done a another crossover with Richard Belzer appearing as Detective John Munch. John Munch had started as a regular character on Homicide: Life On The Street, become a regular on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and then done guest appearances on around a dozen other shows. And many of those connected shows had crossovers with OTHER shows. So Tobias's quick appearance in Infinity War ends up making an insane amount of shows all part of the same universe as the Marvel super heroes!

   The impact is so big that ahead of me even writing this, Hudson Hongo at Gizmodo wrote an article detailing how Adam West's Batman ends up as part of the Marvel Universe. When I saw the article and that some of the research was done on my website I laughed so hard. Connecting Batman to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was amazing to me. But, sadly, checking it out myself... it kills me to say I have to disagree. There is a single flaw in the linkage. Here's how they are supposed to connect. Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes appeared on Batman. Then Hogan's Heroes was referenced on Green Acres with Colonel Hogan and Stalag 13 being mentioned as real. Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies have a shared reality (along with Petticoat Junction). Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies made a cameo on Mister Ed. Mister Ed had a crossover with the Nickelodeon show Hi Honey, I'm Home! Which also had a crossover with The Dick Van Dyke Show. Dick Van Dyke did a crossover with Mad About You. Mad About You has major connections to Friends. Friends crossed over with Caroline In The City. Now here they actually skip a connection saying Caroline In The City crossed with Cheers. If that happened I missed it. But Caroline did cross over with Frasier which then does connect to Cheers. St. Elsewhere also did a crossover with Cheers. Then a doctor from St. Elsewhere appeared in the Homicide reunion movie. Homicide brings us to Detective Munch, Arrested Development and Infinity War. A long and convoluted path but solid... except for the inclusion of Hi Honey, I'm Home! which had unique crossovers that don't quite count.

   The idea with this crossover madness is that two shows connect thus showing a shared world. Hi Honey, I'm Home! had a unique premise: a kid discovers that his neighbors are characters from a recently cancelled old fashioned sitcom who have been relocated to live in the real world. It turns out ALL TV show characters BEHIND THE SCENES share a common reality and can pop into the real world. The show then used that premise to bring on all sorts of beloved TV characters. The problem is that premise doesn't work with the whole common world idea. It does two very opposite things. First, it unites every show every, regardless of an on-screen crossover. The idea makes it so technically any two shows you can think of are connected because ALL shows are connected. However, it connects them in a common "off camera" world. So at the same time it connects all shows, in terms of on-screen worlds, the kind of connections we are really looking for, it connects nothing. So secretly Hi Honey is connected to Dick Van Dyke and Mister Ed. In terms of the on-screen reality of those shows, no connection. It kills me to kill this theory and I now very badly want to find another crossover that will put Batman in the Marvel Universe.

   Two final thoughts on this crossover.

   First, Arrested Development and the Marvel Cinematic Universe share one other thing that now seems a bigger connection. Arrested Development had a running foreshadowing joke. In one episode Buster Bluth has his hand bitten off by a seal that is loose in the ocean. Leading up to that moment there were a tons of references to hands and hands being lost as well as lots of seal and "loose seal" references (the show has two characters actually named Lucille). Then after he lost his hands, more lost hand references kept coming. The thing is... the Marvel movies have also been noted to have a similar thematic with each film featuring a character losing an arm. In Infinity War itself Groot the tree man sacrifices his arm to be used as the new handle for Thor's axe. So now I have to ask... with Marvel part of the Arrested Development world, are all the arm losses in the Marvel movies a continuation of the Buster-loses-a-hand jokes

   Second, I do have to wonder how Tobias ended up in The Collector's collection. Painted blue and all I have to assume somehow he was mistaken for an alien or a unique life form. However, with his masquerading as members of The Fantastic Four, I dearly love the idea he may have been mistaken for Mister Fantastic or some such nonsense. It doesn't jive with his being blue but I don't care. I want it. When they reboot the FF into the Marvel Cinematic Universe I want Tobias in it and his abduction explained.

Other Arrested Development Crossovers
Arrested Development and Homicide
Arrested Development and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Other Marvel Cinematic Universe Crossovers Crossovers
The Marvel Television Universe

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