4 Times Blockbuster Franchises Ripped Off Themselves

4 Times Blockbuster Franchises Ripped Off Themselves


Hollywood thievery is obviously nothing new; much of Star Wars was cribbed from classic Japanese films,The Matrix is suspiciously similar to a beloved comic series, and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory clearly ripped off the Lumiere Brothers’ The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station. Sometimes, the most successful, sprawling film franchises even find ways to borrow heavily from past works within their respective fictional universes, such as how …

Indiana Jones First Searched For Crystal Skulls in a Series of YA Novels

The last time we saw Indiana Jones on the big screen he was famously hunting for crystal skulls (and also hopefully a good doctor following his brush with a goddamn atomic bomb). The ancient carvings turn out to be actual alien skulls belonging to psychic interdimensional monsters who seemingly purchased their ship from Ed Wood’s garage sale. 

But long before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a thing, Indy had already gone on a quest to search for crystal skulls in a series of books by Max McCoy, beginning with Indiana Jones and the Philosopher’s Stone – which sadly doesn’t involve Dr. Jones breaking into a magical boarding school and robbing a child wizard. 

Bantam Books

The opening of the book finds Indy searching for the “Crystal Skull of Cozan” while being pursued by one of Mussolini’s minions. By the end of the novel, Indy loses the Crystal Skull (which, in this story, isn’t a decapitated X-Files villain) but his pursuit of the skull became the narrative glue for the next three books – including one in which Indiana Jones meets a literal dinosaur. Which is still less goofy than whatever this is:

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Before Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Egon Showed Up as a Ghost in the Cartoon Series

In a surprise twist for everyone who hadn’t been anywhere near a toy store that month, at the end of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, the ghost of Egon Spengler returns to help bust one more ghost with his buddies who treated him like absolute dog crap in the last few years of his life. It was either a touching tribute to late actor Harold Ramis, or an unnerving example of how Hollywood will happily go full Weekend at Bernie’s with the digital likenesses of dead stars. 

Decades before Afterlife, though, we already got a story in which the Ghostbusters hang out with Egon’s ghost; an episode of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon somewhat unimaginatively titled “Egon’s Ghost.” The episode finds Egon being zapped by a demon and returning in his non-corporeal form to the firehouse to see his friends, who thankfully aren’t professionally obligated to trap him in their basement for all eternity. 

In the cartoon, though, the Ghostbusters end up curing Egon’s condition by journeying into the demon realm, battling a giant monster and bringing him back to Earth – which presumably the cast of Afterlife were way too old to even attempt. 

Much Of The Rise of Skywalker Can Be Explained By An Old Comic Book

Controversially, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brought Emperor Palpatine back from the dead, a narrative upheaval that was primarily explained in the movie by having Oscar Isaac essentially shrug, followed by one-and-a-half seconds of Dominic Monaghan mumbling something about clones. 

But this wasn’t the first time that Palpatine had made a surprise return to the Star Wars universe – and no we’re not talking about the time the Emperor played air guitar along to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” in front of a crowd of people who could have been spending their precious time riding Space Mountain instead.

Back in the early 1990s, the “Dark Empire” comic book series, set ten years after Return of the Jedi, similarly saw Palpatine coming back to life, after transferring his consciousness to a clone (which is apparently just a thing he does from time to time). The Emperor reveals to Luke that the body we saw in Jedi was also a clone, and that he routinely plops his mind into new bodies until they deteriorate from his powers – not unlike transferring a SIM card into a more up-to-date phone … but evil.

Which kind of makes sense, to be honest. The comic also finds Luke turning evil – and in an inversion of what happens at the end of The Last Jedi, he uses Force projection powers to trick his friends, rather than help them. Of course, “Dark Empire” does end with Luke turning back to the light side, and lightsaber dueling with a fully nude Palpatine clone – and say what you will about The Rise of Skywalker, at least Palpatine’s junk wasn’t hanging out during the entirety of the third act.

The Plot Of Jurassic World Was Already A Toyline

At the beginning of Jurassic World, guests of the dino-filled theme park are so painfully bored with T-Rexes, raptors, and baby triceratops that they’re happy to trek all the way to Isla Nublar just to down cocktails and nachos on the patio of a Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. To remedy this problem, the Jurassic World braintrust decides to create a new dinosaur, the Indominous Rex, by mixing together the DNA of various dinosaurs the way most of us mix fountain soda flavors.

This wasn’t an entirely new twist for the Jurassic Park series. Sure there was the unproduced sequel featuring human-dino hybrid monstrosities, but even before that, there was Jurassic Park: Chaos Effect – which wasn’t a movie, or a TV show, or even a McDonald’s value meal. It was a line of toys, with its own unique premise …

After burning through action figure versions of all the original movie’s characters (some more accurate than others) and even all the characters from the follow-up, The Lost World, with no new sequels on the horizon, the toy company had to come up with their own wonky narratives to sell more plastic dinosaurs. One of which was “Chaos Effect” which featured a background story in which dinosaur DNA was being combined and, predictably, has gone “horribly wrong.”

While the manufacturers were hoping that the toys would launch an animated TV show, this never came to pass. But they did anticipate the central story of Jurassic World. Although, from what we can tell, no Jurassic Park toys ever involved giant mutant locusts.

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Thumbnail: Lucasfilm


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