This study covers the first 42 minutes of the two-hour
divided the movie into three ~42-minute episodes, each
with a unique title as well.
Though the TV series was produced and aired by the Fox
television network, series creator Joss Whedon signed with
Universal for the movie.
Twentieth Century Fox owns the rights to the name Firefly
but creator Joss Whedon owns the rights to the franchise itself,
so he changed the franchise name to
Serenity in order to make the movie and produce/license stories (and
other products) in other mediums such as comic books.
The opening Universal logo of the Earth changes into
Earth-That-Was for the lesson in young River's class.
At 0:53 on the DVD, one of the
buildings seen in the unnamed
futuristic city is based on the
Emirates Towers in the city of
Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
At 1:15 on the DVD, what at first appears to be a large
building on one of the outer worlds is actually a landed
spaceship, partly buried in the desert sand.
Behind the teacher at 1:37 on the DVD, the screen lists the
names of several of the planets of the Verse.
It sounds like the voice of young River in the class setting
is provided by the adult actress of River, Summer Glau,
rather than the young actress seen.
The doctor who is presiding over experimentation on River
when Simon breaks her out of the facility is Dr. Mathias. He
was previously mentioned in
"The R. Tam Sessions".
At 4:55 on the DVD, a cabinet labeled Pyxis SupplyStation
can be seen in the background. The
is a real world product for storing and documentation of
medical supplies, made by
At 6:42 on the DVD, notice that an image of a winged, hooded
figure is visible on the shimmering force field door of the
records room. This symbol is seen at the beginnings of the
videos which make up
"The R. Tam Sessions", suggesting it is a logo
of The Academy.
Dr. Mathias describes the character known as the Operative
more fully as "an operative of the Parliament".
The Operative remarks to Dr. Mathias that, like the doctor's
facility, "I don't exist."
Notice that Dr. Mathias' tie has "straps" holding it against
his shirt. Possibly the straps are to keep the tie from
flapping into an experiment or procedure as he works. Or
maybe it's just 26th Century fashion, their version of a
The Operative suggests that Simon spent his entire fortune
developing the contacts to infiltrate the secret facility
from which he rescued River.
Notice that the prelude of the film (0:00-9:31) is made up
of three scenes that are formed from a dream within a
hologram within a flashback.
There are a number of minor differences in the look of
Serenity in this movie as compared to her
look in the TV series.
The digital model of Serenity and the ship's
sets had to be reconstructed for the film, essentially from
scratch. Apparently Joss
chose to update some aspects of the ship's appearance to
accommodate the higher definition of the big screen. Some
fans choose to believe that Mal finally managed to sell the Lassiter
(the extremely valuable antique laser gun the crew stole in
"Trash" and were later said to be
having trouble unloading in "The
Message") and used his share of the money to have an
overhaul and other modifications made on
Serenity (as well buying the hover-mule to
replace the ground-based ATV seen in the TV series, which
damaged in "War Stories"). Some of
Serenity's differences are listed
ship's name is
supports appear a
being more detailed, and
now hold the
gear (which were
previously seen in
the bottom of the
cargo hold portion
of the ship in the
There are a number
of differences on
the bridge such as:
a bit more
lockers are now
gone, replaced by
The lounge area
off the kitchen is
larger, with more
drive and engine
room look different.
lounge in front of
the infirmary has
been redesigned a
bit and has
has also been
redesigned a bit and
has new equipment
and a new diagnostic
The cargo bay
has a more metallic
sheen to it,
A much larger
set of retractable
landing gear is seen
at 15:02 on the DVD.
At 11:40 on the DVD, it looks as if the crew were just about
to sit down to a meal, as the dining room table is loaded
with dishes of food as the captain walks past it. But half
the crew immediately jumps aboard the hover mule to pull the
heist, not stopping for food first. So, why is the meal
spread out there at that time in the first place?
At 13:10 on the DVD, there appears to be a mechanical model
of a solar system sitting on one of the tables in the
Simon reveals that River is 17 years old at this time.
During the rockety landing sequence, Mal and Simon make
their way to the infirmary, where Simon gives the captain a
shot. This was an inoculation against planetside diseases;
note that about a minute earlier at 12:22 on the DVD, Mal
said to him, "Guess I need to get innocked 'fore we hit
Mal is wearing more "space-age" looking suspenders in this
film than the ones he wore in the TV series.
Besides the Chinese, some Hindi and Arabic words are seen as
labels on equipment and ships throughout the movie,
especially the words for "danger".
Apparently they still have Sundays in the days of the week
in the Verse, because Zoe remarks, as their bandit party climbs into the mule,
they should hit town during Sunday worship. Tuesday was
mentioned in "Trash".
Mal comments that "Fanty and Mingo" have set the crew on to
this particular payroll heist. Later, we meet the two
scoundrels, who are identical twins.
The novelization reveals their full names are Mingojerrie
and Fantastic Rample, with Mingojerrie being a
misremembering of Mungojerrie from T.S. Eliot's 1939 poetry
collection Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
However, the names Fanty and Mingo were originally
derived by Whedon from gangster characters played by Lee Van
Cleef and Earl Holliman in the 1955 film The Big Combo.
The security monitor at 17:08 on the DVD displays what seems
to be the brand name in the top left corner, Comvue. This
appears to be a fictional company.
A sign behind Mal at 17:27 on the DVD reads Galactic Post,
presumably a post office, judging from the
post-office-box-like slots on the wall behind it.
The tower at the center of town seen at 19:59 on the DVD
appears to be a spiral ziggurat, probably a mosque.
At 21:13 on the DVD, the hover-mule takes out a fruit stand
and yellow awning as it races out of town. But it's all back
in place just seconds later when the Reaver ship chases
At 22:43 on the DVD, the mule passes what appears to be a
transparent welcome sign to the town as they depart (we see
it from behind).
The Reavers as seen here remind me of the possessed Martian
miners in the 2001 film Ghosts of Mars, what with
the self-mutilation, ragged hair and clothing, and
hyperactive destructive natures.
Wash refers to the maneuver in which he pilots Serenity
to scoop up the moving hover-mule as a "barn swallow",
probably a reference to the bird found around the world on
Earth-That-Was, which would swoop low over a body of water
in order to scoop up a drink in its beak.
After escaping from the Reavers after the heist on Lilac,
Zoe reports up to a worried Wash that there were no
casualties. But the term "casualties" includes injured, and
Jayne was injured by a Reaver harpoon spear in his leg.
At 27:41 on the DVD, a large, cylindrical container is seen
behind the seated River which says REUSABLE CONTAINER, DO
As Serenity is grabbed by the giant robot hand and
docked at the port on Beaumonde, notice at 31:42 on the DVD
that the computer green screen at the dock is forming a
schematic of a Firefly-class ship as it
identifies the type of vessel.
The security cam footage in the Maidenhead bar at 30:51 on
the DVD shows Mal and Jayne joining Fanty and Mingo at their
table before they've even arrived!
At 34:07 on the DVD, it looks like
Mal is wearing a small earpiece, but
it was not there in previous or
Wash mostly wears more professional-looking attire here than in the
TV series, where he wore mostly brightly-colored shirts. He
does wear a Hawaiian-style shirt on Beaumonde though.
At the Maidenhead bar, Jayne is wearing a shirt that appears
to be from a security uniform. The shoulder patch looks like
the same logo used by the security company at the vault
crew pulled their recent heist on Lilac.
When River is triggered by the Fruity Oaty Bars commercial
and the tussle begins, notice that at about 38:38 on the DVD
an alarm begins to sound in the bar and protective barriers
slide into place over the bar and kitchen windows.
Watch the full Fruity Oaty Bars
Commercial below. Not mandatory. (Attention
viewers: PopApostle is not responsible for freak-outs or loss of minds).
"Fruity Oaty Bars
Make a man out of a mouse
Fruity Oaty Bars
Make you bust out of your blouse
Eat 'em all the time
Let 'em blow your mind
Blow your little mind
Fruity Oaty Bars
Fruity Oaty Bars"
(Asian man in
the middle of the jingle says, "Wuo
hun diou lyen. Wuo may yo chr Fruity
Oaty Bar." Translation: "I am very
ashamed. I didn't eat a Fruity Oaty
Among the lyrics of the Fruity Oaty Bar commercial is "Let 'em
blow your mind". Ironically, River's mind is blown by the
subliminal in the commercial!
At various points in the bar scene, the maidenhead (i.e. of
a sailing ship) of the Maidenhead can be seen hanging above the bar
At 36:22 on the DVD, notice that another ship follows the
Operative's in the distance.
As the Operative reviews Mal's record at 36:31 on the DVD,
Mal's full first name is spelled wrong, "Malcom". At 36:35,
the record shows that he was a captain in the Independent
Army; he has always been described as a sergeant in previous
As the Operative reviews Mal's record at 36:38 on the DVD,
we see his birth date listed as 9/20/2468. Since the film is
believed to take place in 2518 (see discussion within the
Firefly Timeline at
The Signal website), this would make Mal 39-40 years old
in this story.
Mal's date of birth is probably also a reference to
the premiere date of Firefly on television, 9/20/2002.
Mal's record also shows he was born on the planet Shadow
(as he previously told Saffron in
"Our Mrs. Reynolds").
His Social Control number is 099.836.5.4112 (presumably this
is analogous, though more creepy sounding, to the Social
Security number assigned to citizens of the United States in
the real world).
Mal claims it's been 8 months that River has been on
Serenity. That seems a short amount of time to cover
the entire TV series and other licensed stories...but
The Shepherd's Tale states that Shepherd Book was
aboard Serenity for two years before his death (in
"A Better World"). Book first boarded
Serenity in the pilot episode of Firefly
At 39:25 on the DVD, River mouths Mal's words as he sullenly
remarks that it has crossed his mind they may have to put a
bullet in her.
Mr. Universe mentions that his lovebot wife is named Lenore.
Wash uses the term "newswave" the way we would use newscast
and Mal uses the term "broadwave" to describe something
similar to what we would call broadcast.
At 40:11 on the DVD, one of the
images on Mr. Universe's many video
monitors appears to be that of
Charles Middleton as Ming the
Merciless in three Flash Gordon
serials from 1936-1940. Other images
on the screens
I've not been able to identify.
One of Mr.
as Ming the Merciless in Flash
In the video clip of Mr. Universe's wedding ceremony, we see
that he is wearing a yarmulke and stomping on glass wrapped
in cloth. This tends to indicate he is Jewish, as the
yarmulke is a cloth head cap worn by Jewish men, either all
the time or during prayer or religious ceremonies. The
breaking of glass is a part of the Jewish wedding ceremony
whose origins are lost in history, but may be a memorial of
the destruction of the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount in
Notes from the Deleted Scenes on the DVD
The deleted scene titled "Operative Tracks Mal" reveals that
Mal, when he was a Sergeant for the Browncoats in the war,
was a member of the 57th Overlanders, Balls and Bayonets
The same scene above reveals Zoe's birth date as 2/15/2484.
Since the film is believed to take place in 2518 (see
discussion within the
Firefly Timeline at
The Signal website), this would make Zoe about 34 years old
in this story.
Zoe's record also reveals she was born vesselside, most
likely meaning she was born on a ship in space. Her Social
Control number is 129.426.3.1523. Her last name at the time
of the war (presumably her maiden name) was Alleyne.
Chinese writing on River's desktop screen and notepad.
Chinese word "Ninjing" behind the Serenity designation painted on
the hull of Serenity.
First visible in the cargo bay, but later seen in other places
around the ship, are red-and-gold labels with Chinese characters
spelling "jing", presumably an abbreviation of "ninjing",
Mal says to Simon, "Dong-luh-mah? Ni cho lyen, yo may yo?"
"Are we clear here? Do you have a worried face?"
Chinese characters on the mule spell out "wan lin". (These also
appear near Serenity's cargo bay doors.)
According to the
Firefly-Serenity Chinese Pinyinary,
the words are essentially gibberish, meaning "pill" and "at
the time of". The site speculates it is meant to mean "danger" since
they often appear next to the Hindi and Arabic words.
The Chinese word in the middle of the security monitor screen is "dingxiang"
(there are also a number of unidentified Chinese words and the
Arabic word for...)
Lilac (the name of the moon on which the crew is pulling its heist)
Chinese words on the guard's security badge.
Wash says, "Ai-yah. Tyen-ah..."
Chinese characters on steel compartments in cargo bay.
Zoe says, "Da jee-ah tzwo sha!"
"Everybody sit down!"
Mal says, "Nee tzao ss-ma? Nee-yow wuh-kai chang?"
"You wanna bullet? You wanna bullet right through your throat?"
Jayne's t-shirt says "Ci shan Fu wu Tuan ti"
Philanthropic Service Organization
Several Chinese words on signs throughout the shot of the city.
Chinese words on Maidenhead security camera view
Chinese words on screen during the Fruity Oaty Bars commercial: Hao
Simon speaks a Russian code phrase to put River to sleep, "Eta
Kooram Nah Smech!"
"That's ridiculous!" (See explanation of idiomatic and literal
translations at the
Various Chinese words appear on the monitor screen as the Operative
views security cam footage from the Maidenhead and reviews Mal's