Greta Gerwig is looking to return to Sacramento soon.
The cinematic universe has been an obsessive point of conversation for the better part of a decade now. Back in 2008, Iron Man launched a blockbuster endeavor that had competing studios scrambling to replicate. Now, our bodies are automatically compelled into nauseating eye-rolls at the very thought of Bumblebee or The Rock splitting off from their own franchises to start another. Enough is enough. Or is it?
Appearing as a guest on the premiere episode of The A24 Podcast, Greta Gerwig expressed an interest in returning to the same Sacramento in which Lady Bird inhabits.
“I’d like to make a total of four films that take place there, I would like to do a quartet of Sacramento films…it’s inspired by the Elena Ferrante ‘Neapolitan Quartet.’ She wrote these four books that took place mainly in Naples. They are so great, and I thought, ‘Oh I would like to do that.’ This is one part of Sacramento, but there are a lot of different parts of Sacramento that I would like to explore too. I feel like I have the privilege of being from a place…I can actually speak to it with some feeling.”
Part of me already feels like Gerwig has established a cinematic universe with her previous films. Our own Fernando Andrés explored the connections between Frances Ha, Mistress America, and Lady Bird last year, and there is some serious thematic tissue being strung there. However, the idea of Gerwig actually returning to the reality of her Sacramento is an extremely appealing one, and we shouldn’t dismiss the concept of the cinematic shared universe just because we’re sick of hearing about The Avengers.
The reality is that the shared universe is not a new concept. Marvel did not invent the wheel, they just made an unimaginable amount of money replicating their comic book format for the silver screen. Look towards H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos stories. D’Artagnan from “The Three Musketeers” famously cameos in “Cyrano de Bergerac.” The cops and criminals of Elmore Leonard’s underworld frequently hop around the pages of that sprawling, seedy galaxy. Even Stephen King can’t escape Bangor, Maine.
Abbott and Costello excelled when they plummeted into the horrors of the Universal Monsters. Some (like myself) argue that the greatest entry in the whole darn saga is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, in which the comedy duo battle the likes of Glenn Strange’s Monster as well as Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula. I won’t spoil it for you, but yes, a Wolf Man is involved, too.
I’m all for characters bumping into each other in fictional landscapes. It’s what kept me glued to Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse in the 1990s and had me cackling when Michael Keaton’s Ray Nicolette traveled from Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown into Steven Soderbergh’s Out of Sight. I even got a thrill recently in seeing Duncan Jones’s Moon have its epilogue within Netflix’s Mute.
So, yeah, I’m all for getting a peek into the future of Lady Bird whenever Gerwig has another California homecoming. If Sacramento is her Bangor, then I’m excited for whatever sense of place inspires her creativity.