One of the most contentious ideas I suggested in The Disney Theory was that there are some Disney films that also exist as fictional films within the Disneyverse.
Obviously this concept requires some brain-bending to make any sense, but the evidence supporting it seemed compelling enough for its own article.
While writing The Jane Theory the pieces really began to fall in to place. Here I discovered that the Disneyverse has its own Walt Disney, and that man is in fact:
Professor Archimedes Q. Porter
Let’s start from the beginning.
There are two fictional films we know for a fact exist in the Disneyverse.
The first is (appropriately) Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, which was of course also The Walt Disney Company’s first feature film.
We know this because of Oliver & Company, where a loud-mouth chihuahua named Tito happens to sing ‘Heigh Ho’ to himself.
Obviously there is no good reason for a chihuahua living in 20th Century New York to know a fairy-tale dwarven work song, so Tito must know the song for the same reason we do…
Because he saw it in a movie.
This is the same reason Lilo’s sister Nani in Lilo & Stitch has a poster of Mulan on the wall – the same poster which was used to advertise the movie in our world.
So far so simple.
There is also the possibility that we can include Dumbo in our list of the Disneyverse’s fictional films, but this has been met with some dispute.
So what’s the issue?
The Dumbo Question
Dumbo appears as one of Lilo’s cuddly toys in Lilo & Stitch.
The obvious assumption is that this is also movie merchandise, since we already know from her sister’s poster that this is a family that likes animated movies.
The fly in the ointment is that Dumbo also appears as an ornament in Basil the Great Mouse Detective, which is set before the dawn of cinema.
As many pointed out in response to The Disney Theory, word of a travelling circus’ flying elephant would probably spread far and wide. Those visiting the attraction would probably want a souvenir from their visit, which means the British household in Basil could have recently returned from a trip abroad to see this American wonder.
It’s definitely a convincing idea, as Stitch’s reputation too stretches far enough for him to appear as a toy in the early flashbacks of Treasure Planet, and Stitch’s influence on the Disneyverse is great enough that there is no way he can be fictional.
But what if Stitch and Dumbo have this in common? What if they were both real events in the Disneyverse that later became fictionalised and retold by a fledgling film-maker?
What if Professor Porter started the House of Mouse?
We see in Tarzan that Professor Porter owns a lot of the equipment of early cinema. He is also wealthy enough to lead an expedition and eccentric enough to be fascinated by gorillas, wild-men, and basically anything else he comes across.
He also owns a trinket, seen briefly in Tarzan, that opens up a world of possibilities for our understanding of the Disneyverse’s Disney.
The only conclusion can be that this trinket pre-dates the dog in the movie. That the movie Mulan was made by somebody who knew the Professor and wanted to dedicate a part of it to him.
Maybe someone like his daughter?
Like her father, Jane is adventurous, inquisitive and creative. She would be a woman of means as her father’s sole inheritor, and as we learn in Tarzan…
She likes to draw.
It’s likely that with a wild husband like Tarzan her family might struggle when returning to the high-society of London. So it makes sense with the new prospects across the Atlantic opening up that they might travel to America to start a new life.
It is here that Professor Porter would turn his hand to movie-making with the help of his artistic daughter. Later Jane would take over the studio, and dedicate Mulan to him.
This is all crazy enough without adding to it – so I will.
Because Professor Porter’s name suggests one final Disney connection. Another Disney movie I did not previously consider to be fictional, which could actually contain more references to him by his daughter’s film studio.
A film with an eccentric, inquisitive wizard, who shares more than a passing resemblance to Professor Porter, and whose pet owl shares his name.