Equalizer 3: Does Dakota Fanning's Presence Suggest A Shared Universe?

Everything seems to be a shared universe nowadays. Ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe blew up the box office during the 2010s, studios have been grasping at whatever they can to create their own sprawling franchise to cash in on the concept. It also has fans beginning to theorize whether two seemingly unrelated movies could possibly coexist in the same universe. "The Equalizer 3" is no different, as the presence of Dakota Fanning and Denzel Washington causes one to wonder if their previous film, "Man on Fire," serves as a prequel to this story.

"Man on Fire" follows John Creasy (Washington), a tortured CIA agent with a propensity for violence and death. Christopher Walken's Paul Rayburn eloquently describes him as an artist; his art is death. Creasy takes on a new gig as a bodyguard for a wealthy family's 10-year-old daughter, Lupita (Fanning), in Mexico. While he starts out as a cold and detached professional, he can't help but fall for the little girl. When she is eventually kidnapped, he goes on a one-man rampage across the city to find those responsible and paints his masterpiece.

In the trailer for "The Equalizer 3," Fanning's character sits at an outside cafe with Robert McCall (Washington) and reports that multiple bodies were found in a little town in Sicily. She then grins slyly before asking McCall if he killed them. There is a familiarity between the two, causing viewers to wonder if there is more behind it.

Both characters needed a fresh start

There are a few noticeable holes in this theory. The first and most glaring one is that the end of "Man on Fire" sees Creasy turn himself over to the kidnappers in exchange for Lupita. And while he is in the car with them driving away, it looks as though he dies and finally finds peace. It isn't impossible that he survives his wounds and merely passes out due to blood loss. And bringing a character back to life after an apparent death is nothing new.

For argument's sake, let's say Creasy survives his gunshot wounds and escapes when authorities kill the kidnappers. He would undoubtedly need another start — one that gives him a new name and an opportunity to live somewhere in peace. That is until he runs into a young blonde girl under the control of Russian gangsters. When Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) reminds him of Lupita, he goes back into the world of death and starts his cycle of violence over again.

Lupita would also be looking for a fresh start. Being kidnapped as a young girl would certainly cause high levels of trauma for anyone. She and her mother would likely leave the country that mistreated them and return to the United States. Having experienced how terrifying it is to be a victim, and with a role model like Creasy who stood up to injustice, it isn't farfetched to imagine Lupita would have joined a U.S. agency.

They have a father-daughter relationship

Even though they were protector and protectee, Creasy and Lupita had a father-daughter dynamic. He helped her with her swimming when he noticed she was startled while jumping off the block. He taught her to see her surroundings. The relationship advanced beyond the professional, and a genuine loving bond formed. The same can be said about the actors in the film, as Denzel Washinton and Dakota Fanning became close on set.

Antoine Fuqua spoke with Movie Fone about getting the two back together. "I fell in love with her, of course. I didn't tell Denzel I was meeting with her. I wanted to make sure she really wanted to do it. Then I called Denzel; I said, 'I met with Dakota. She wants to do it.' He was like, 'Absolutely.' He loved Dakota. He lit up. So I was like, 'Amazing.' So every day when I was filming them, he would turn to me sometimes and smile and go like, 'She's a grown-up now.' He would just laugh about it. So it was like a father-daughter relationship. Really sweet."

The chances of "Man on Fire" and "The Equalizer 3" being connected are remote. It is more likely a fun fantasy to think about than anything else. But weirder things have happened. Clever movie crossovers happen all the time. "Daredevil" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" have been linked. "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe" are now together. And let's never forget "Unbreakable" and "Split" taking place in the same universe. No matter how farfetched it may seem, studios are always down to blow us away.