How 'Monsters, Inc.' Is The Key To The Pixar Interconnected Universe Conspiracy Theory
If there's one thing that takes my love for a single movie to the next level, it's discovering that said movie may actually be part of an expanded, interconnected movie universe. And back in 2013, when blogger Jon Negroni posted an in-depth theory positing that the Pixar movie universe is connected, it absolutely blew my mind. The Pixar universe conspiracy theory didn't just touch upon the relevance of various easter eggs or coincidences which had given fans pause for speculation, it actually suggested an entire and thorough timeline of evolution within it. Three years after the theory was first posted, and with slight updates made to it since, one aspect of it has become incredibly clear — Monsters, Inc. is the key to the Pixar Universe theory.
Now, before I can even touch upon exactly why Monsters, Inc. is so crucial a movie to the theory, it's worth revisiting some of the basics of the theory. The first important part of it to understand is the timeline of the Pixar theory. The movies, which start with The Good Dinosaur (set 65 million years in the past) and Brave (set sometime in the 14th and 15th century), end with Monsters, Inc. which is set way out into the future, sometime around the years 4500 and 5000.
As the timeline progresses, so too does the evolution of humanity, animals, machines, and the planet itself. There's numerous suggestions across various Pixar movies, for instance, that Buy N' Large (aka BNL), the huge corporation who are trying to force Carl out of his home in Up and who were responsible for sending humans to live in Space in Wall-E, have been largely responsible for destroying the planet and making it uninhabitable.
There's also various suggestions that animals are more advanced than humans give them credit for. In films like Finding Nemo and Ratatoullie, we witness growing resentment from animals towards humans because of their mistreatment of them as well as for their blatant disregard for the environment (their home).
But what the Pixar Universe also shows is the idea of toys and machines being sentient beings, with the Toy Story films (set between 1997 and 2010) being the first to suggest that human emotions (in this case, love) are potentially an energy source upon which they thrive and depend.
Once we reach the Cars franchise of movies (set sometime between 2100 and 2200), we see the impact of both the human's mistreatment, and eventual abandonment, of Earth and the capabilities of sentient objects (cars) who are now populating the planet. We then see how the plant in Wall-E (set around 2800 and 2900) grows to become a tree in A Bug's Life (set around 2898 and 3000), before witnessing the mutation of animals into monsters thousands of years later in Monsters University and Monsters, Inc. (set around 4500 and 5000).
Now this is where the theory gets really exciting for Monsters, Inc. fans, and there's a few parts to it that are really cool. The first has to do with Boo. As the theory suggests, following the events of Monsters, Inc. Boo never really got over her adventures with Sulley, but remembers that wooden doors are the key to accessing him.
Later in life, Boo likely also figures out that these wooden doors grant her the magical ability to time travel (possibly also being the one responsible for planting all of those fun Pixar easter eggs throughout the universe), and she uses them to go back in time to the source of all magic — the "will-of-the-wisps" of Brave.
And who might Boo be in Brave? Well, that would be the witch, of course. And in Brave we even see this character possibly reminiscing over her time with Sulley by carving him out of wood and etching his likeness into a block. Wood is also highly significant in the universe, with the theory suggesting that it's a magical, and strong source of power.
Not only does wood provide the energy by which to time travel in Monsters, Inc. but the wood in A Bugs Life is also the source of Flid's ingenuity and the tree in Up being one that Ellie and Carl often visited together and which became the source Carl's idea to transport his house with balloons.
However, there's another concept of energy in Monsters, Inc. which is also crucial for the entire Pixar Universe. As you might remember from the film, with the help of Boo and Sulley's friendship and escapades, the scare team discover that human laughter, rather than scares, is the powerful source of energy that the monsters need to fuel their planet.
This isn't all too dissimilar from the way in which the sentient toys of Toy Story require love as their main source of energy in order to thrive, but the most notable connection can be seen in Inside Out.
You might remember a fun character called Bing Bong, a part elephant, part dolphin, part cat hybrid made of cotton candy who cries candy. He also just so happened to be Riley's imaginary friend from when she was three, and has a wagon which can only be powered by song (much like how laughter powers Monstropolis in Monsters, Inc.).
The theory suggests that Bing Bong was Riley's monster (the one creeping into her bedroom at night to share jokes, be silly and make her laugh), whom she perceives as her imaginary friend. It makes sense that a child of such a young age would make sense of such a monster by perceiving them as being an imaginary friend rather than a mysterious beast. It also explains why Riley isn't afraid of monsters, but is totally scared of clowns.
Much like how Sulley is forced to destroy Boo's door at the end of Monsters Inc. (though he does manage to sneak in one final visit) for the greater good, so too Bing Bong sacrifices himself in Inside Out in order to serve Riley's best interests.
As the final film of the supposed Pixar Universe timeline, it could easily be argued that Monster's, Inc. is the one most demonstrating the unifying bond between all of the movies. It showcases ideas of time travel, of expressions of emotion as tangible power sources, of magic and the significance of wood and of the progressive nature of evolution that occurs between the time spans of the movies.
But it's also the most prominent in terms of showcasing the core themes at the heart of most of the Pixar movies. Prominently and repeatedly concerned with ideas of energy sources, the environment, the purity and power of love and the destructive nature of greed and cruelty, Monsters, Inc. posits the idea of love and happiness as being the greatest and most sustainable form of power there is.
Currently positioned at the end of the Pixar universe timeline, Monsters, Inc. acts a stunning final commentary on the theorized events of the films before it, where humans took their own planet, and the animals populating it, for granted in order to help profit a major corporation.
Monsters, Inc. shows the flip side of this attitude, with a major Monstropolis company realizing the error of their ways and rejecting negativity and cruelty as the main source of their power, to instead embrace joy and happiness. Which, as we learned from Inside Out, is the most powerful emotion of all.
And as the linchpin of the entire Pixar Universe (and as a tremendously uplifting movie in itself), Monsters, Inc. continues to supply that feeling in large quantities 15 years after it was first released.