Walmart's Super Bowl 2020 commercial recruits Martians, 'Star Trek,' Lego and sci-fi icons

Who knew that something as mundane as grocery pickup could be this relevant to sci-fi space exploration?

Walmart's new extended Super Bowl LIV commercial, released on YouTube Wednesday (Jan. 29), shows characters from all across the universe making food runs in between their intergalactic adventures.

It should be no surprise that the starship Enterprise from "Star Trek" is the first spaceship we see, given that Starfleet is based in San Francisco — home of the 49ers, the football team that will be facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (Feb. 2). But less likely, perhaps, is the arrival of Benny's spaceship from "The Lego Movie" or the Benatar from "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "The Avengers."

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Bemused and patient Walmart associates hand groceries to each of the groups as they come in, no matter how unusual the visitor.

"Glass cleaner?" two of them write on a whiteboard while facing the heptapod aliens from "Arrival," who wait behind glass in their spaceship. Hearing no response, one of the Walmart employees says, "I'm just going to set this down for you." A heptapod puts their tentacle on the window, and the employees scream.

Another employee cranes her neck to get a better look at the Lego spaceship, which is smaller than the sidewalk curb next to the vehicle. "I'm just noticing that the bag is much bigger than your ship," she says.

A third group of Walmart employees watches stoically while the phone booth from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" opens, with two Bills springing out the door. "Is this the future?" one Bill asks the other.

"This is the present," responds the second.

An employee hands over a grocery bag. "Here's your order, Bills."

"Excellent!" they both cry, starting an air guitar session on the spot.

Even Marvin the Martian from "Looney Tunes" comes by, ready to pick up his order with a robot arm. "Oh goody, sustenance!" he cries.

Among numerous franchise appearances, you will also see references to "Toy Story," "Men In Black," "Blade Runner," "Mars Attacks" and even a quick cameo from two "Star Wars" characters who were in the latest movie, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: