What is the View Askewniverse? Kevin Smith’s fictional world, explained
"I'm not even supposed to BE here today..."
The Marvel universe isn’t the only cinematic universe out there—and depending on who you ask, it isn’t even the best one. Some fans reserve that title for Kevin Smith’s wild ride of a film collection, all of which take place in their very own little world: the View Askewniverse.
Named after his production company, View Askew Productions, the Askewniverse encompasses pretty much every film Smith has ever made, starting with cult classic Clerks and even branching out with some collabs, such as Zack and Miri Make a Porno. There are quite a few hallmark traits that signify an Askewniverse movie, but it really isn’t an Askewniverse movie if two feature players aren’t in it: Jay and Silent Bob.
Who Are These Guys?
The great thing about Smith’s films is that they don’t require a lot of background knowledge or exposition to get a good idea of who the characters are, and what the setting is. If anything, the films are best established and embodied by these two clowns, who always find a way to be involved, someway and somehow.
Jay and Silent Bob (played respectively by Jason Mewes and Smith himself) are a couple of hucksters and drug dealers, with the former being a crass motormouth, and the latter being … well, Silent Bob. They’re constantly playing two sides in every film they’re in: that of the absurdists, and that of the grounding forces that bring the plot to earth. One minute, Jay’s going on about aliens and Jesus, as seen above. Then the next, Bob is laying down a rare piece of wisdom about humbling yourself and accepting your partners as they are, as seen below.
Where To Start?
All of Smith’s films are made with the spirit of Jay and Silent Bob in mind, being that they’re soulful and cool, yet utterly irreverent and off-the-wall. Some of them are a bit much for newcomers, who aren’t used to the Askewniverse’s comedic style and plot beats.
Therefore, it’s best to start with the one that kickstarted the whole operation: Clerks.
The history of this film is pretty incredible. It was made on a low budget of $27, 575, and filmed entirely in black and white. All the scenes and characters in the movie were directly taken from Smith’s personal life, including the actual Quick Stop drugmart, where Smith was still working during production. It was a real shot in the dark as to whether or not the film would succeed, with Smith losing so much sleep, he fell asleep during the filming of some later scenes. Yet because of how real it was, and how painfully, hilariously relatable it felt to viewers, it became a penultimate cult classic in the canon of modern indies.
I first watched this film as a sophomore in college, burnt out and fed up with just about everything. I was working crappy jobs, dating crappy people, and just barely eking through my academic life. Then a friend clued me into this film, and while initially the dialogue shocked me, I found myself cry-laughing throughout the whole thing. As a kid, it was the perfect movie: apt, yet not succumbing to self-pity.
Years later as a young adult, I rewatched the film by myself, and was surprised to find it still held up. In fact, it was almost even more relatable, as I’d grown into myself and stopped leaning so heavily into my woes. All this to say, if you’re at all curious about this film universe, you gotta start with Clerks.
Still curious? Or maybe you’re a longtime fan and looking forward to the next thing. Either way, buckle in, because Smith has a couple new films slated to be released somewhat soon.
After a long period of uncertainty, Clerks III will release this year in 2022 through Lionsgate. Filming wrapped up in August of 2021, so it’s still unclear exactly when in 2022 it will release. But the fact that it’s finally ready to ship out is something to celebrate.
As for future plans, there’s a sequel to Mallrats in the works, under the title Twilight of the Mallrats. Likely it won’t be released for at least another year or so, but what’s clear is that Smith is still working hard to bring us the good stuff.
(Featured Image: View Askew Productions)
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