Story time: I was lounged back in my seat, all cozy, while watching some movie trailers one after another. During one movie trailer, I saw Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a dirty shirt, sweating, standing in front of a background filled with utter disrepair. Thought to myself: Yeah, seems about right.
Notification break. I look down at my phone, tell some friends I’m about to see a movie so I’m going to be offline for a bit, and respond to a particularly lengthy message. All in all, takes me about 3 minutes or so. That number is important. When I’m done, I look up at the screen again. Still The Rock in a dirty shirt, disrepair in the background. Cue me going: “Huh?” Because it’s pretty darn lengthy for one movie trailer. Most of those last just under 2 and 1/2.
Turns out it was a trailer for a completely different movie. But it didn’t seem to register. The general aesthetic was the same. It was still The Rock on my screen, dirt-stained neutral-colored shirt and everything. And that got me conspiring right there in the middle of a movie theater: All of his recent movies must be contained in one huge universe.
I will accept nothing less. The overall aesthetics, the outfits, the fact that he plays the same beefcake in them all. It’s got to be the same. Let me explain.
It begins with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
So those who have seen the film know that he isn’t the actual main character, just the avatar of the kid who’s playing the game. But this is his first iteration in this form and my entire theory banks on the idea that, when Spencer and his friends actually win the game, these avatars get left behind.
This avatar is what lives on to connect these 4 movies.
Before I get ahead of myself, this is what happens in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle for those unfamiliar: A kid opens up an old board game called Jumanji that sucks him into the world. Same premise as the original. Years later, another group of kids finds it, too, but ignore it. What sets this apart from the original is that the game adapts. It turns into a video game and brings those kids in and challenges them to complete it.
The heart of the story remains: This game is out to get them. Out to get someone, anyone. And it traps them there until they finish their challenges. Which is why when the iconic drum beats sound, you know it means trouble. And, after all of the events of the movie, you hear the drums again. Trouble is brewing another time!
While the movie ends there, The Rock, now in that jungle stuck as an avatar, lingers there. We establish that The Rock is “big” here. He’s a large man, physically strong. Which is what made me connect Jumanji to Rampage. Rampage’s tagline is “big meets bigger” and I thought: “Hey, that’s smart–it’s also a pretty clever subtle sequel title if we wanted to read it that way!”
Rampage looks a little similar because, surprise, it’s all the same darn universe (I’m adamant). After the players log out, the Rock avatar lingers to see the jungle become a wildlife reserve. He isn’t erased. He lives in that universe. The events of Jumanji have shaken him so he tries to dedicate his life to caring for the Earth around him this time.
Life is good to him and he’s just gotten along with George the gorilla when the pathogen that sets up the entire film hits. Chaos ensues, of course, and our friend Dwayne has to pull himself by the roots from that wildlife reserve that holds his first life and his first iteration and go to the city to stop the mutated animals.
Once he stops them and masters flying a helicopter, he moves away from the reserve, trying to stay away from the negativity of that island/wildlife reserve and dedicate his life to trying to protect cities from any other insane, enlarged animal attacks.
This brings us to San Andreas. After the fancy helicopter work he did in the previous film, he is now a seasoned pilot. He dedicates his life to justice and helping people out. And, though things seem to be going alright again, the Jumanji game rears its ugly head once more.
This time, it triggers a huge earthquake, ripping the city apart. The Rock is once more dodging debris and squaring off with something much bigger than he is (which is quite the feat). When the tsunami hits, he’s devastated but tries his best to save his family anyway (one he had within the universe).
When the action dies down and he saves the day again, he notices how flooded everything is and how submerged most of the architecture is now that the flood rolled in. With this, he now has a new life direction, bringing us to…
Skyscraper. The Rock has once more tried to rebuild his life and pursue another passion. After the big flood, he decided that they should all start building up instead. It’d help out a lot more if the events of San Andreas were to repeat themselves. His new life is now into skyscraper security and he tries to ensure things go smoothly.
However, of course, things go wrong. Cue The Rock running slow-mo while being chased by bad guys. Something we’re super used to by now. The Jumanji game has not let up at all and has cornered this poor man another time with building floors catching fire and him having to jump incredible lengths.
As usual, he finds a way to prevail. He, again, beats the game (something I imagine happens offscreen along with the drumbeat that signals things are about to look bad again). He is a seasoned veteran of the game’s tricks and turns but we know that, soon, he will fall victim again…
You can’t change my mind about this (insert “change my mind” meme guy here).
Do you believe that his movies are all interconnected? Wanna join in on the conspiracy? Let me know!