With so many actors from Community having cameos in the MCU, fans have theorized that the two franchises might occur in the same universe.
Throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many actors from the sitcom Community have performed cameos, leading fans to develop a theory that the two series share a universe. Overlapping actors include not only Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, and Yvette Nicole Brown, who portray major characters in Community, but also Brie Larson, Martin Starr, and Jim Rash, who play more minor roles. To explain their presence in both stories, two possible justifications have emerged.
The basic explanation for this overlap involves the Russo brothers. In 2014, the Russo brothers directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and have since directed three more MCU movies. Before they began working with Marvel, the Russo Brothers had already been directing Community episodes for several years. Due to this, they recruited friends from the sitcom to cameo in their MCU movies.
However, fans have formed a different theory: the MCU and Community occur within the same universe. This theory (via Reddit) holds that Greendale Community College was actually a Hydra base, using the college as a cover for its activities. Sometime after Captain America: The Winter Soldier occurs, Greendale was exposed as a Hydra Facility and shut down. Since many of the college’s employees were innocent but may have known sensitive information, S.H.I.E.L.D relocated them. While the Russo brothers’ explanation may seem more practical, several points support the fan theory, involving both Greendale and its populace.
First, the fan theory helps explain how Greendale Community College functioned as an institution. Community season 6 referenced Captain America. The presence of a Hydra base at Greendale would account for the college’s continued operation despite its incompetence and corruption. This would also explain why Greendale had connections to military phone lines and multiple references to a secret military base. In addition, Greendale’s founder invented a machine to understand human emotions named Raquel, which is similar to the AI created by Arnim Zola, a Hydra scientist, in the MCU.
Second, many of the characters could appear in both series according to their character arcs. For example, Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) was a Greendale student who had a relationship with an FBI agent. Through her, S.H.I.E.L.D could have recruited Abed, explaining his role as the agent in Captain America: The Winter Soldier who let Captain America take over a communications room. Similarly, Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) was a Greendale student who lost his boat to pirates. To avoid public attention, he could have reconnected with family, changed his name to Aaron Davis, and tried to buy a gun to avoid being robbed again. Spider-Man would witness this deal in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Community Professor Cligoris (Martin Starr) even appears in two Marvel movies. To explain this, he could have studied at Culver University in The Incredible Hulk before teaching at Greendale. After Hydra was exposed, S.H.I.E.L.D would have relocated him to teach at the Midtown School of Science and Technology, changing his name to Roger Harrington. Even a Greendale student named Rachel (Brie Larson) could have been a Skrull, disguising herself as Carol Danvers to observe humanity
While it is fun to imagine how Community could occur within the MCU, the connection is improbable, especially based on the tonal differences between the two. Although both series feature characters that mix humor and emotion, the MCU tends to place fantastical characters in a more grounded reality. In contrast, Community depicts more outlandish, random characters in a highly chaotic environment. Altogether, while the presence of Community actors in the MCU has inspired many fans, the shared universe theory is less likely than the Russo brothers enjoying casting their friends.
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