What do Disney, The Oatmeal, and Nikola Tesla have in common? The real answer might be tucked safely away inside the mystery box, but at the very least it was Brad Bird’s upcoming film, Tomorrowland, that brought them all together. Web cartoonist Matthew Inman, better known on the webz as The Oatmeal, recently posted on his blog about his invitation to a meeting with the Disney filmmakers and their conversation that took a strange turn towards all things Tesla. It’s safe to say that The Oatmeal is a big fan of the misunderstood scientist, and was responsible for starting a campaign that successfully saved Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory. Since The Oatmeal himself admits that he’s not the foremost expert on Tesla, why would Disney fly him out there to talk tech? Misdirection? Hype machine? Something else entirely? Hit the jump for more.
You can read the full blog post over at The Oatmeal, which has a 7.6% chance of being taken down sometime soon. Here are some of the interesting bits:
A few months ago I got an email from Disney asking me to come down to Burbank to consult with them on an upcoming film: TomorrowLand … Right off the bat I got to meet Brad Bird … He was courteous and funny and appeared to be used to this type of fanboy-cartoonist-babble, so we chatted for a few minutes until someone steered the conversation toward the real reason I was there: TomorrowLand.
As I said before, we didn’t talk about the movie. Instead, they asked me a bunch of questions about Nikola Tesla. They asked what Tesla was doing in Colorado, and if he’d ever conducted experiments at Mineral King. They asked if Tesla belonged to an organization called “Plus Ultra”, and if it was possible for him to have met Walt Disney. They also asked a variety of questions about the recently saved Wardenclyffe, particularly about the buried tunnels underneath the property that may potentially contain some of Tesla’s old equipment. I know quite a bit about Tesla, but I’m by no means an expert historian. My insight into the man is mostly centered around his character — that of an inspiring, geek underdog who changed the world and suffered bitterly for it. There are much better people than me whom Disney could be talking to. I told them I didn’t have much insight, but I did my best and tried to separate the plausible from the implausible for them. I got the impression Disney was just covering their bases with some of these questions looking for confirmation of what they already believed.
Inman makes special mention of the mystery box shown off at Disney’s D23 Expo and how the filmmakers asked him to take a look at a few letters supposedly drafted by Tesla and other famous scientists. Since the mystery box itself is a bit of manufactured propaganda to drum up some interest in the film, I wouldn’t be surprised if this visit by The Oatmeal is just another part of the marketing machine. What remains to be seen is whether or not Tesla will make an appearance in the film in one form or another. Here’s the synopsis for Tomorrowland, so you can judge for yourself if the Serbian-born scientist would fit in:
Bound by a shared destiny, a bright, optimistic teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor jaded by disillusionment embark on a danger-filled mission to unearth the secrets of an enigmatic place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory as “Tomorrowland.”
Tomorrowland opens in theaters on December 12, 2014.