Greetings from the Odinson,
Val Verde is a fictional rogue country located somewhere in Central or South America (the exact location is never given) created by renown screenwriter Steven E. de Souza. If his name is not familiar, it should be. Souza has worked on the scripts for some of the biggest and most beloved movies and shows of the modern era of cinema and television. The Six Million Dollar Man, Knight Rider, V, and The Running Man, are just the tip of the iceberg of the greatness and joy he has brought into our lives. According to IMDB, Souza is one of only a handful of screenwriters whose films have earned over $2 billion at the box office.
So, beyond that, why is the Odinson talking about this prolific and highly successful writer with such regard? Because his creation – Val Verde – may link some of the most important and influential films in pop culture history and may have generated a shared cinematic universe over two decades before, and equally on par with, the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s All Connected: The Val Verde Cinematic Universe
The first time we are introduced to the fictional country of Val Verde is in the classic 1985 action film Commando starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this film, the deposed criminal dictator of Val Verde kidnaps the daughter of John Matrix to try and force our hero to assassinate the current President of Val Verde. Well, Matrix is a super soldier and the last thing anyone should ever do is threaten the life of his daughter. This does not end well for the bad guys.
The next time Val Verde enters the picture is in the 1987 sci-fi/action masterpiece Predator, once again starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This time, Arnold’s Dutch leads a Special Forces rescue team into the jungles of Central America. Though later movies and comics have stated the events of Predator take place in Guatemala or Columbia, the precise location is never given. Souza says he believes it takes place in Val Verde. The fact that the locale has been debated at best and ambiguous at worst, and for the sake of the connections to follow and the merit of this column, that’s what I’m hanging my winged helmet on.
So, if we can all agree that Commando and Predator are connected, let us proceed.
The seminal 1988 film Die Hard, which ultimately starred Bruce Willis, was rumored to originally be fashioned as a direct sequel to 1985’s Commando. However, that is not from where the connection is drawn. In Die Hard 2, the outlaw general that the terrorists are trying to free is from Val Verde. Not coincidentally, Souza worked on the scripts for all three films.
So, there it is, immensely beloved films connected by the fictional country of Val Verde. If that were all, it would be enough. However, we’ve only just begun.
Now, the real fun begins.
If we take the leap and believe that Predator takes place in the jungles of Val Verde, then that automatically draws in not only the entire Predator franchise, but the Alien franchise as well, thanks to AvP. With Alien in the mix, and with it the Weyland-Yutani Corporation, that also brings Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner into the fold. Ridley Scott (director of both Alien and Blade Runner) said that the CEO of the Tyrell Corporation, Elden Tyrell, was a mentor to Peter Weyland, the head of Weyland-Yutani.
This revelation obviously brings Prometheus into the fold, but maybe not so obvious is the connection to the 1998 sci-fi film Soldier starring the great Kurt Russell (Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China). David Peoples, the screenwriter for both Blade Runner and Soldier, has confirmed the two films are connected, and this is made even more apparent as one of the flying cars from Blade Runner is seen in the wreckage on the planet that Russell’s titular character is on.
Finally, in the first episode of the much, much too short-lived television gem Firefly, at the Battle of Serenity Valley, Mal Reynolds is seen using an anti-air gun against the Alliance. The logo of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation is clearly seen on the weapon’s display screen. This plants Joss Whedon’s cult classic firmly right in the middle of this shared universe. On a side note, Whedon wrote the screenplay for the 1997 film Alien Resurrection which features a band of pirates that are very similar to the crew of the Serenity.
BONUS: In the Firefly episode “The Train Job,” one of the cars on the train Mal and his crew are robbing is filled with a squad of Starship Troopers! It should also be noted that one of the inspirations for James Cameron’s 1986 masterpiece Aliens was the 1959 novel Starship Troopers by writer Robert A. Heinlein.
It’s ALL connected!
Now, if you include comic book crossovers, then the Val Verde shared universe can be extended to include The Terminator, RoboCop, Tarzan, Judge Dredd, Vampirella, the Dark Horse Universe, the WildStorm Universe, the Top Cow Universe, the Valiant Universe, the DC Universe and even the Archie Universe!
So, from 1979-present, some of the most popular and beloved films and franchises in pop culture history – Alien, Blade Runner, Commando, Predator, Die Hard, Starship Troopers, Soldier, Firefly, and Prometheus – are all connected into one shared universe thanks to a crafty writer named Steven E. de Souza and a small fictional rogue nation called Val Verde.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.