What If 'Westworld' Is A Sequel To 'Westworld'? [Peter's Crackpot Theory]

Before HBO began airing Westworld, rumor had it that it might somehow be a sequel to the 1973 film Westworld written and directed by Michael Crichton. As the series geared up, it seemed pretty obvious that the show, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, was its own thing. But what if it isn't?

What if the Bad Robot-produced Westworld TV series is actually a sequel to the 1973 Westworld movie? It's a crackpot theory, I know. I won't even suggest I believe it. But there is a bunch of evidence to point us in this direction. Or is it really evidence? Are they just fun Easter eggs for fans of the original movie? Hit the jump, grab a cocktail at the Mesa bar and join me as we explore this possibility.

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The original 1973 science fiction film Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton (the author of Jurassic Park), told the story of a futuristic western theme park populated by realistic androids. The story is presented from the point of view of Peter Martin (Richard Benjamin), a first-time visitor, and his friend John Blane (James Brolin), a repeat visitor. Of course, the androids begin to malfunction, and Yul Brynner plays the iconic android villain The Gunslinger. Like the series, the park in the movie was run by a company called DELOS, who also operated other "DELOS Destinations" including Medieval World and Roman World, both of which are located adjacent to Westworld and are featured in the story.

During the last third of the film, the Gunslinger chases Peter through Westworld, the other parks, and back through the behind-the-scenes area of the park. There is a classic scene that takes place in one of the backstage areas where we see android hosts on operating tables. You can watch a clip of this sequence above.

In this week's episode of Westworld, entitled "The Adversary," Bernard Lowe (Jeffrey Wright) travels to sub level B82 (just one level above "cold storage," seen in the pilot episode). Bernard is in this old area of Westworld's former behind-the-scenes facility to track down some old hosts who are apparently operating off of the grid of the new computer systems. While it's very dark and hard to see much in this part of the facility, it's obvious that it doesn't look as sleek and modern as the current backstage areas of Westworld. In fact, the design looks very similar to that of the original 1972 Westworld movie. Bernard walks past some metal tables that look eerily like the ones from the scene above, and we see a lifeless figure in the background for a brief second.

Yul Brynner's gunslinger in Westworld tv series

Yul Brynner's gunslinger in Westworld

That's right, Yul Brynner's iconic character The Gunslinger makes a brief appearance. Sculptor Nick Marra created the animatronic Yul Brynner figure for fun (you can watch an interview about the creation here), but the creation must have caught the eye of the showrunners.

Showrunner Jonathan Nolan admits that "it was indeed" the Gunslinger that you saw in the background. He insists that it was just "a little tip of the hat," and that they "didn't want to feature it too heavily" as they don't want viewers "reading too much into that." So let's do exactly the opposite of what he suggests.

It would be easy to write this off as a fun Easter egg, but maybe it's more than that? What if HBO's Westworld was actually a sequel to the 1973 Westworld film?

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Is Westworld a Sequel to Westworld?

We have heard about the critical failure, a massive malfunction that happened sometime after the opening of the park just over three decades ago. What if that glitch was actually the events we see in the original Westworld movie? Series creator Jonathan Nolan has written the connection between the show and movie as "playful but not meant to be literal." He told EW:

We wanted to connect to the ideas in the original film, but also take a look at this place as a cultural institution that is not new – because these ideas aren't new. They stretch back to when Crichton was playing with them. We wanted to consider the park in that capacity, as a cultural institution in the manner of a Disney World. We feel like there's a long story here. Like there's something so pointed and sad for us about the idea that Dolores, this sort of evergreen frontier girl next door. She's been that plucky heroine for 30 years.

Again, Nolan dismisses the suggestion without outright denying it.

When the HBO series began to air, fans of the movie quickly noticed the similarities between Ed Harris' Man in Black and Yul Brynner's Gunslinger character, who also wore a black hat. Some eagle-eyed fans pointed out that the Man in Black wears black gloves, which may be a sign that he is actually an old host as those models didn't get the hand movement right. That theory was seemingly debunked in a later episode when a park visitor recognized the Man in Black from the outside world. And as the series progresses, it is evident that Ed Harris' Man in Black is a wholly new character that is similar to the Gunslinger in black hat only.

So what I'm suggesting is that maybe Westworld the television series takes place three decades after the events of the Westworld movie. I'm not suggesting, however, that any of the characters we see on the show are characters from that film, only that the critical failure of the park happened concurrently to the one we witnessed in the movie. And that after the critical failure, Medieval World and Roman World were both shut down and abandoned.

Let's take a look at some more evidence/Easter eggs, on the next page.

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The appearance of the Gunslinger is not the only piece of evidence we have to share with you. In episode number five of Westworld titled "Contrapasso, " we follow William, Logan, Dolores, and El Lazo to a fancy brothel which shares some similarities to the Medieval World scenes we see in the original Westworld movie. I first saw this pointed out on Reddit, where they presented some side by side images.

Please excuse the white blocks censoring the nudity, as we aren't allowed to share that kind of content on this site. But notice the red curtains, candelabras, and the stone walls. Not only is there a similar look going on here, the fancy brothel feels unlike anything we've seen inside Westworld thus far. Is it possible that Medieval World once existed on this plot of land, and after the critical failure, the remnants have been repurposed in a Westworld expansion? This is something that happens in the real-life theme park world all the time. The hosts painted gold could be repurposed from a former Roman World narrative.

I know what you're thinking, this is all just circumstantial. And yes, let me remind you that this is a crackpot theory. And of course, Westworld creatives have denied a connection. Co-executive producer and supervising director Richard J. Lewis told THR that he doesn't think that it was intentional that the orgy scene had a feeling of Medieval or Roman World from the movies.

We just wanted to create a palette that was very sensual and very dark and not particularly rote or done. We housed this scene in a mausoleum in Compton. That's where we found this location: a very narrow building where essentially 40,000 bodies are buried above ground. It was a strange place to begin with. It had a very haunting flavor to it, right from the get-go. [Laughs.] It was very surreal.

You might also be thinking — you've been pushing this two timeline theory for some time, but William and Logan's presence in the former Medieval World setting would mean that this storyline would have to take place after the big glitch. You are correct; this is the big reason I don't personally believe this theory. I am so invested in the idea that we are seeing two different timelines that this new theory is impossible for me to believe at this time. But let's just consider for the moment that there aren't two timelines, or there are two timelines and the William/Logan timeline is set later than we all believed, after the first critical failure.

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In this week's episode, "The Adversary," we see Elsie chasing down a signal from within an abandoned area of the park. She enters an old theater which is filled with props which look like the remnants from Roman World and Medieval World. The accessories certainly don't look like they belong in Westworld proper. But I guess they could be explained as props from previous productions that took place in this theater.

So the question is: are these merely Easter eggs or actual evidence that the Westworld movie and Westworld television series take place in the same canon? I'm not sure what this theory would add to this story if it were true, but I'm at least having fun with all these references the showrunners are hiding in the show.