New Blockbuster Movie Has An Impressive Firefly Callback

Strange World features the same "death" callback as Firefly, which both involve Alan Tudyk being sucked out of a cockpit.

By Britta DeVore | Published

strange world firefly

Disney’s latest animated feature Strange World may be severely underperforming at the box office, but there’s a major Easter Egg in it for fans of the Joss Whedon series-turned-movie Firefly. Alan Tudyk stars in both projects and his part as the ship’s pilot Lieutenant Duffle in Strange World is oddly reminiscent and hits a little too close to home for those who watched him as Serenity captain Hoban “Wash” Washburne. Fans of Firefly’s feature film Serenity will remember the gruesome and hard-to-watch demise of Wash, and if you catch Strange World, you’ll see a similar fate befall Lieutenant Duffle when he’s pulled out of the cockpit by a hoard of winged creatures.

Of course, Don Hall’s (Big Hero 6, Raya and the Last Dragon) Strange World and Joss Whedon’s Firefly have two very different ways of portraying the loss of a character with Lieutenant Duffle receiving a much cuter send-off than Wash. But, there’s no doubt that any fan of the sci-fi series-turned-film who was watching Disney’s latest animated feature wouldn’t miss this subtle, yet obvious parallel between Tudyk’s characters. Even the pair’s humor is the same, with a dry, sarcastic wit poking fun at other crewmates. 

Strange World also sees the ex-Firefly cast member taking on two other roles. At the very beginning of the film, audiences hear a narrator giving an old-timey speech centered around the exploration of deep space. That very familiar voice is again Tudyk with the actor also being heard later as the Avalonian radio host. 

Disney Strange World
Strange World

As far as the similarities between Strange World and Firefly go, they don’t travel very far beyond the parallels in Tudyk’s characters. Strange World centers on the Clade family, a lineage known for exploring the vast ends of the galaxy. When their home of Avalonia is in trouble, president Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) invests in the help of the renowned explorers to join in the harrowing expedition. Unfortunately for her, the family’s patriarch Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) has been missing for years, leaving her to rely on the one member who’s taken a step back from the family business – Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal).

Never one to feel the same zest towards traveling as his relatives, Searcher has taken on a quiet life as a farmer alongside his wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and their son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White). But, with Avalonia in need, the Clades embark on the adventure of a lifetime – much to the chagrin of Searcher. In all, Strange World shows the journey through space as a fun-time, colorful expedition, whereas Firefly and Serenity were much more drama and heavily action-filled. 

Before Strange World and after Firefly, Alan Tudyk has led a full and celebrated career, appearing in a slew of live-action features, as well as animated productions. While he’s mostly stuck with comedies including Knocked Up, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, and Distancing Socially, he’s also appeared in a handful of dramas including 3:10 to Yuma, 42, and Playing God. In the world of colorful animations, Tudyk has lent his voice to countless movies including voicing various characters in the Ice Age franchise, Wreck-It Ralph, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Encanto. He’s also the voice behind the very sassy and beloved K-2SO in Rogue One.

Despite the parallels between the Resident Alien star’s characters in Strange World, it seems that not even a connection to Firefly can save the film at the box office. What was initially believed to be a major hit for Disney has quickly found itself clawing to get above the rest of the holiday competition.