Original article written in April 2020. Updated June 2021 to reflect Wandavision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Loki.
While the world perseveres through what seems like the longest episode of Black Mirror ever, it struck me during this down time that Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror-verse crosses over with the collective “Marvel media universe.”
Sure, there are some obvious ones. Daniel Kaluuya in “15 Million Merits” is where the world met the Black Panther actor before his starring role in Get Out. Anthony Mackie – a goddamn full-fledged Avenger – is in the season 5 episode “Striking Vipers.”
But after digging into every Black Mirror actor and director’s IMDB and Wikipedia pages, I quickly discovered an astounding level of cross-universe-pollination.
So what qualifies as “Marvelverse?”
Well, obviously the primary Disney Cinematic Universe, ABC TV Shows, the Netflix shows, and Disney+ offerings. Disney also now owns Fox, so any of the Fox Marvel (X-Men, Deadpool, Fantastic Four) properties are fair game. AND yes I’m including the Sony properties as well, since they’re NOW playing nice with Disney.
We’ll go through, episode by episode, and I’ll keep track for ya.
Episode 1: “The National Anthem”
I mean, wow. What a way to introduce an anthology series. If you haven’t watched Black Mirror, I won’t get into details. Just start with episodes 2 and 3, then go back to episode 1.
Marvel Connections: None.
However, actor Donald Sumpter (Maester Luwin on Game of Thrones) did appear in the 1977 smash hit The Black Panther.
Yup, I got joke responses too. You’ll get a few more before this is through.
Episode 2: “15 Million Merits”
Our first toes in the Marvel waters! Daniel Kaluuya is the protagonist of the episode. He’s known in the Marvelverse as W’Kabi, T’Challa’s best friend, Okoye’s boo, and chief of the Border Tribe. Yes, he’s the one training the armored rhinoceroses. Easily the worst CGI in Black Panther, but that might be my only complaint about the movie as a whole.
Then we’ve got Hannah John-Kamen, who wins the initial “Hot Shot” competition in the episode, setting up the main storyline. You’ll know her as Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp. She brought a visceral, raw energy to the character that was mostly missing from Peyton Reed’s films (looking at you, Walton Goggins). We’ll see her again later.
Finally, the episode was directed by Euros Lyn.
No, you’re not supposed to have heard of him, unless you watch a ton of British TV.
But he’s a bigger deal for this exercise than you may realize. He directed the penultimate (that’s 2nd to last) episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil. Why a big deal? Penultimate episodes are usually reserved for the biggest twists, actions, plot movements, etc. that a series/season intends to wrap up the storyline with, with the finale being the reaction and resolution to said penultimate episode.
Episode 3: “The Entire History of You”
In this episode, we get 1.1 Marvelverse entries (I’ll explain the .1 momentarily).
First, looking back, I didn’t realize the other main star of the episode was the current Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.
Our Marvelverse contributor is Toby Kebbell. Poor Toby. He’s a good looking dude, and has won some awards for his television work, but his film career is filled with swings and misses. At least in movies where he shows his face.
See, Toby’s best work probably comes from playing Koba, an ape antagonist, in both Dawn and War for the Planet of the Apes. He also did the motion capture role for Kong, Skull Island as, yup, you guessed it, Kong.
On the flip side, he’s appeared in Warcraft (as the main male orc), Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Alexander, Wrath of the Titans, the completely unnecessary Ben-Hur remake, and most recently the Vin Diesel flop Bloodshot. All of which were critical flops, not all of which financial.
And that brings us to his Marvelverse entry. You see, Toby Kebbell was cast in the villainous role of a lifetime. He was to play a new incarnation of Victor Von Doom as Victor Domashev, aka “Doom” in Josh Trank’s Fantastic 4our reboot He really wanted to make it right. He knew what was at stake.
The movie scored 9% on Rotten Tomatoes and lost Fox $100 million. Need I say more?
But technically, it counts.
The .1 I mentioned? Robert Downey Jr. optioned the episode to potentially be made into a film. But we’re not gonna count that.
Episode 4: “Be Right Back”
We don’t have to do much digging here. Hayley Atwell is the star of the episode, and she’s freaking Peggy Carter. I mean, she’s the reason Steve stayed behind in the 40’s after beating Thanos. I’m guessing Steve never tells Peggy he made out with her niece.
She’s also the only Cinematic Universe character to get their own broadcast TV show. Yeah Clark Gregg is on Agents of SHIELD, but it’s not named after him, and he’s not the main character. She’s a queen.
So much so that she’s getting double credits. For movie appearances and for Agent Carter.
As a joke contribution to the list, Clair Keelan was in a mockumentary in 2017 called Carnage. Set in the year 2067, when veganism is the norm, the film looks back on meat-eating today.
Episode 5: ”White Bear”
I don’t have much for this one. Lenora Crichlow, the lead in the episode, is set to appear in Sony’s Morbius, sometime in the future, at least according to Wikipedia.
So enjoy this gif of some white bears:
Episode 6: “The Waldo Moment”
Imagine if you will, an over-the-top man-child TV personality who insults and goads his rivals was entered into politics. Shit would go sideways, right? I mean, that could never be taken seriously…..
Anyways, the in-universe “The Waldo Show” producer played by Jason Flemyng is the contributor to our count in this episode, portraying the teleporting villain Azazel in X-Men: First Class.
(Delicious little side note: Flemyng’s character name in the BM episode?
If that sounds familiar that’s because that’s the name of Jack Nicholson’s Joker character in Batman)
Episode 7: “White Christmas”
This was the first Black Mirror episode that threw me for a loop with the twist of interconnecting stories.
“Threw me for a loop.” Ha. It fucked with my brain.
Anyways, there’s no direct Marvelverse references here, but there’s a “what might have been” reference.
Fox’s The New Mutants was originally going to feature the Essex Corporation again, which was first teased at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, leading to a post-credits scene featuring the surprise reveal of Jon Hamm as the villain Mister Sinister.
Wouldn’t that have been amazing, Jon?
Also – this episode features the actress who played Tonks in the Harry Potter movies!
Episode 8: “Nosedive”
The world was ecstatic when Black Mirror moved to Netflix. They’d be free of stiff BBC censorship rules (that’s a joke), and have greater access to a broad talent pool.
Their first offering with Brooker was “Nosedive,” where Bryce Dallas Howard plays a woman seeking the approval of her childhood friend (Alice Eve) who’s about to be married. But they live in a world where you have a personal “score” that is voted on by everyone else, depending on your interactions with them. And as the title indicates, Howard’s character’s score falls faster than……
She was in Spider-Man 3, remember? She played Gwen Stacy, who went on a date with Emo Peter, just to make Mary Jane jealous. There were a lot off issues with that movie. I’ll get into that later.
And then there’s Alice Eve. She was a big part of Iron Fist’s 2nd season (also on Netflix. Yay synergy!) I know many of you passed on IFs2 because the first one was so……let’s be polite and call it “dull,” but I thought season 2 was a huge improvement. And a big part of that is Alice Eve’s Mary Walker, aka Typhoid Mary. She’s a war veteran with extreme trauma caused from being a POW in Sokovia that results in developing dissociative personality disorder. After she’s discharged, she become a hitwoman. She’s all over the place, in the best way possible, and her performance is dynamic. Here’s a little glimpse:
Episode 9: “Playtest”
The second episode that just freaked me the FUCK out was “Playtest”, about a dude trying out a new virtual reality horror video game that could read the person’s mind and use their own fears against them.
The “dude” is none other than Wyatt Russell, the son of GOTG2’s Ego, Kurt Russell. No, that’s not the connection. Wyatt portrayed John Walker, the new Captain America in Disney+’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. He decapitated a dude with the shield. In front of witnesses recording him.
Hannah John-Kamen makes her second Black Mirror appearance, this time as the tech journalist that asks Wyatt’s character (after sleeping with him) to get a picture of the VR technology and send it to her. He leaves his phone on, and….yeah. I won’t dig deeper.
I always thought this shot from the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp was badass:
A 3rd person! – the developer of the VR game is Ken Yamamura, who plays the younger version of the Silver Samurai in The Wolverine. He’s in the opening scene when Logan saves him from the Nagasaki blast, and again at the end when he steals Logan’s healing powers. There aren’t too many gifs, so here’s what I got:
He’s the dude in the lower right corner being saved.
And finally, a 4th! Wunmi Mosaku enters the MCU as part of the Time Variance Authority, Hunter B-15.
Episode 10: “Shut up and Dance”
The less that’s said about this episode the better. No Marvel connections here, but the lead actor, Alex Lawther, was in that Carnage mockumentary too!
And there’s also Jerome Flynn, aka Bronn from Game of Thrones.
Episode 11: “San Junipero”
The first episode of the series that actually leaves you smiling at the end. If you’ve seen it, you know. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil a thing about it. Just know that Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the girl who plays Kelly, will be in the Disney+ series Loki, playing a character named Ravonna Lexus Renslayer. How badass is that?
Here she is:
Episode 12: “Men Against Fire”
I got nothin for ya.
Episode 13: “Hated in the Nation”
The second feature-length episode from Black Mirror, this one is as fucked up as it gets.
But FIRST let’s just dumb it down to this simple lesson: SAVE THE GODDAMN BEES
Second, we finally get our FIRST AVENGER! Our connection here is Benedict Wong appearing as a National Crime Agency officer.
None. Seriously. I checked every actor and director for each episode, and couldn’t find a thing.
Although it would not surprise me at all if Jesse Plemons or Jimmi Simpson somehow made their way into the Marvelverse someday.
Episode 19: “Black Museum”
Another 3-part episode, this one will mess with you too. Especially the first part, with the pain-addicted doctor. The sadomasochism just was too much for me. If you get squeamish easily, be aware you may need to close your eyes quickly. (side note, that first vignette is based on a short story written by Penn Jillette!)
Before I get into a “thing” about how much I adore the biggest name in this episode, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Amanda Warren’s (who appears in the episode) connection to the MCU, as she appeared in an episode of Season 1 of Jessica Jones. Goddamn David Tennant is frightening in that series. I could write a whole blog post about why he is the most terrifying villain in the MCU.
Sorry to bury the lead, but in this episode we get our SECOND AVENGER!
Letitia Wright (in her first role after completing filming on Black Panther) gets her chance here to shine, playing the curious, innocent tourist, but who’s also orchestrating the Museum curator’s death because he’s exploiting her innocent father.
But enough about that. Let’s talk about Shuri.
Not only is she the smartest person in the MCU, she may well be the funniest. Not only does she get to make/play with the cool toys, she’s the only person who can crack wise at her brother/king.
Plus she looks pretty badass in battle armor and vibranium gauntlets:
And she makes jokes white people’s expense:
Let’s face it, Shuri is Black Panther’s MVP. It’s a shame she had such a small role in Infinity War, and basically nothing in Endgame.
ONE LAST BADASS THING about Shuri before I move on. At the end of Black Panther, T’Challa says that Wakanda will start sharing their technology with the world. Then in the next film, Infinity War, we see Tony Stark with a nanite suit built into the casing of something he wears, a la T’Challa’s necklace.
Think about that. Tony Stark went to a TEENAGER to upgrade HIS technology.
She may be the MCU’s MVP.
Episode 20: “Bandersnatch”
Is it an episode? Is it a movie? Is it meta-commentary about fan reaction to new media? Be careful which you choose, or else you might have to go back to the start of this article. Don’t make me do that.
Anyways, no connections here. Although my money would be on Will Poulter being in something in the next decade somehow.
Episode 20: “Striking Vipers”
Let me just preface this section by saying I did not think Brooker and Netflix would go in THAT direction with this episode about two friends playing a Street Fighter-esque fighting game. It allows them to take their friendship to the “next level,” if you get my drift….
As the avatars. Inside the game.
It causes issues in the real world. But the ending is kinda sweet. Not “San Junipero” or “Hang the DJ” sweet, but for Black Mirror, it’s pretty sweet.
We get a 2nd-generation Avenger! Anthony Mackie, aka
Falcon Captain America!
(side note – Mackie’s first film credit was as “Clarence” in 8 Mile)
For not having any superpowers, Falcon is routinely made out to be a badass. For example:
He’s Captain America now. I’ll keep this gif of him as a badass as Falcon, but come on.
Before I get into the other Marvelverse-er, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the DOUBLE DC Comics Cinematic Universe connection. When Mackie’s character enters the video game, his avatar is that of Lance, played by Ludi Lin. For lack of a better gif, here’s that visual approximation:
Lin appeared in DC’s Aquaman as the warrior Murk. He appeared in the new Mortal Kombat movie as Liu Kang.
The actor opposite Mackie in the episode is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. He’s ALSO in Aquaman as Black Manta (He’s also FANTASTIC in HBO’s Watchmen).
Abdul-Mateen’s character chooses as his avatar Roxette, played by none other than Pom Klementieff. You know her better as Mantis from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. While not an Avenger, she’s a proper Guardian, and the reason why they even have a chance at Thanos in Infinity War:
Drax and Mantis are cute together. Their offspring would be the most literal being ever created.
Episode 21: “Smithereens”
After watching Fleabag in the last few months, that definitely re-frames this episode, as it changes my perception of Andrew Scott, the main character of this episode.
But maybe Fleabag is actually a sequel set in the same universe? He finds religion in prison and becomes a priest afterwards? That’s what I’m choosing to believe now. It’s decided.
The Marvelverse connection here is Topher Grace. I know we, as a society, have pretty much blanked our memories of Spider-Man 3, but we have to accept that it still exists. Otherwise I lose Bryce Dallas Howard’s connection, and I’m not doing that.
Yes, Venom was mishandled. In Raimi’s defense, the studio forced Venom into the story. SM3 would have worked wonderfully either without Sandman OR Venom, but having both of them, plus New Goblin was a clusterfuck of plot smushed together and thrown at a wall.
Yes, Grace was cast as a foil of Peter, not the hulking Eddie Brock had been in the comics, pissing off fans. My biggest complaint was that Eddie is literally in a church asking God for a way to kill Peter Parker, and then he immediately gets one (the symbiote), and there’s nothing about divine intervention, being chosen by God, having his prayers literally immediately answered, etc.
He was just like:
Most of the look wasn’t great either, but this little sequence nailed it:
Finally – most of Brock/Venom’s dialogue was garbage and deserved to die in a pumpkin bomb explosion.
Episode 22: “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too”
“Wait…..who will be in this season of Black Mirror? MILEY CYRUS? WHAT THE HELL?!”
That was my initial reaction upon hearing the casting list for this most recent season. While this isn’t a top-tier episode, Cyrus gives one hell of a performance, showing a range of acting, singing, and voice-acting for the doll. She’s essentially playing a parody of herself, and she nails it. Every bit of it.
Before I reveal how Miley Cyrus connects, I need to bring up our second-to-last entry in this list: Angourie Rice.
She plays Betty Brant in the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies. She had a minor role in Homecoming, but was hilarious as Ned’s “summer trip girlfriend” in Far From Home.
Plus she gets to be a part of one of the best bits in the movie:
Come on, you laughed. Hard. At all three times it was used.
Back to the former Mrs. Not-THAT-Hemsworth. Miley was in one of the five post-credit scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Nope you don’t remember her face, because it was just her voice. She was this thingy (a character called Mainframe):
Her only line? “I MISSED you guys!”
But it counts!
Total: 23 connections in 22 episodes.
While nothing has officially come out yet, Black Mirror Season 6 is almost assuredly confirmed. It’s critically well-received, and continues to draw top-end talent to its cast of characters.
Did I miss any other connections?
What Marvel stars would you like to see in Season 6?
Was this all a dream?
Good read. https://monthlycritic.wordpress.com/2020/04/20/misbehaviour/ https://monthlycritic.wordpress.com/2020/04/21/who-you-think-i-am/
My latest two reviews if you fancy reading.