There is a certain kind of nostalgia bubbling up for Shrek that often happens with big franchises that hit hard, clean up at the box office, and then turn in a handful of waning sequels. Shrek disappeared for a while, but fans are regaining their Shrek appetite. DreamWorks knows this, and Shrek 5 is currently being planned, though it has never been divulged whether or not it will be a straight sequel or a reboot. Perhaps the studio hasn't discovered this for themselves yet. But one fan has a pretty terrifying theory that makes a lot of sense. While you may forever look at Donkey with a different set of eyes after you hear it, perhaps it could be a good why to go?
We've never gotten to know a lot about Eddie Murphy's Donkey. Especially when it comes to his back story. While the rest of the characters in Shrek, not including the big green guy himself, seem to be culled from Fairy Tale culture, Donkey is just...Well, he's just a talking Donkey. But perhaps his origin story is rooted in one of the grandest Fairy Tales of them all. Pinocchio. One fan dropped this knowledge on Reddit, claiming they'd cracked the Jason Bourne like identity of this beloved character. We'll let them explain.
"This sorta ties into the story of Pinocchio, but since he's a part of the Shrek story too, it makes sense. The story of Pinocchio goes that Pinocchio, along with several other boys were sent to Pleasure Island, where they could do anything they wanted without rules. Eventually, they were turned into donkeys, and sent off to different places. If you think about it, most characters from Shrek are from some kind of fairy tale. Gingerbread Man, Fairy Godmother, Muffin Man, Three Little Pigs, Three Blind Mice, etc. In Shrek 1 all of the fairy tale creatures are rounded up, but Donkey doesn't seem to be from a specific story. He's just a talking donkey. But there are some of his lines that are just really bizarre and out of place. You could easily look at some of these as offhanded jokes that don't mean anything, especially since they're never brought up again. I took a look at a lot of his scenes, and it's crazy how my theory make more and more sense as I looked back on these moments. In Shrek 1, the knights are doubtful that Donkey can talk, and Donkey's owner is deemed crazy because she insists he can. It's made clear that the idea of a talking donkey is incredulous, even though other animals can talk, like the Pigs. " Also from Shrek 3, Donkey and Puss end up switching bodies because of a spell. When Puss in Boots starts braying like a donkey, Donkey says, "Oh, you'll learn to control that".
Horrifying as that may be, it all makes sense. Donkey is from Pleasure Island. Every Shrek movie, though some less entertaining than others, can be pulled back like an onion and examined infinitely. It was one of the first kids movies that really played to the adults in the audience, who were dragged their against their will to appease kids. Now it seems like a no brainer to make animated fare just as subversive for adults as it is entertaining for children, and that notion rests in some Disney Classics, but in terms of jokes, Shrek took it too a whole other level. Just look at Lord Farquaad's name. Maybe it flies over the heads of the tots in the audience, mystified by the giant green man and the talking donkey, but what do adults hear? 'F-wad.' Every time. And it always gets a laugh.
So that Donkey might have a darker origin than you'd expect sounds exactly like Shrek's eternal workings to us. And one fan may have finally cracked this code in all its glory. Especially if you consider how impressionable the Pleasure Island scenes in the original Disney classic Pinocchio were. They gave kids a lot of nightmares back when the movie was released in the early 1940s.
So, is Donkey one of the Pleasure Island boys? That's a mystery that may never be solved. Then again, Shrek 5 could tackle this notion head on. Filmmakers are becoming more and more adept at running with fan theories and subtly, sometimes blatantly addressing them in future installments of whatever franchise. Shrek 5 will reportedly be in theaters summer 2019.