The movie is a prequel to the TV series of the same name.
The Penguins will at some point return to the zoo after picking up the lemurs and the chimps. That would explain the absence of Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria in the TV series.
- They probably just picked up the chimps, since the lemurs arrived in a crate likely made a stop back in Madagascar along the way.
- One of the taglines for the movie is "Discover how four ordinary penguins became the penguins of Madagascar."
- Rico is choking up larger and larger objects and becoming more verbal. He's also got his mohawk thing. He just hasn't got his scar yet.
- Tom Mc Grath said that the show isn't canon to the movies. And King Julien actually stops by the zoo in the third movie but (along with Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria) he decides not to stay, so there's that.
At some point, Dave was exposed to the Medusa serum.
This explains why he looks different from the other octopuses. It also explains how he knew what the Medusa Serum was in the first place.(I'm fairly certain that in no part of the movie does it say that Dave invented it.)You may be wondering why he doesn't act stupid and feral like the mutant penguins. This is because octopuses are extremely intelligent, and if the serum reduced his IQ, that still isn't enough to make him dumb. Alternatively, perhaps, for some reason, the serum had the opposite effect on Dave - making him smarter - which explains why he is smarter than the other octopuses. Because the penguins are so carefree and incompetent, they become stupid and beastly. Because Skipper and Kowalski are smarter than the other penguins, they become stupid, but they are able to snap out of it.
- Kinda jossed at the end, where he gets hit by Private's "cute ray" and ends up looking more like the squid that Skipper slapped around. If it was the serum making him look like that, it should have made him look like his minions in the end. Or maybe he's really a squid that lost 2 tentacles?
- Not necessarily jossed. Presumably, the "cute ray" is supposed to make things cute, not just reverse the effects of the Medusa serum. Following this, the reason the penguins only revert to their normal selves instead of changing like Dave did is because they were already cute and therefore the ray didn't need to change them further. Since most would probably agree Dave's minions (the default look for octopuses within the theory) aren't particularly cute looking, it'd be fairly logical for the ray to go an extra step and make him cute instead of just the default.
If Dave had succeeded with the penguins, his next target would have been Alex.
Hey, he became the friggin' "King of New York", right? Probably, even before the penguins' arrival, that little lion cub fished from the sea was starting to steal Dave's spotlight.
- This theory is awesome! Frankly, it kinda feels like They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character by only having the main cast of Madagascar only appear as cameos at the beginning. Although they're grown up now, and some people wouldn't necessarily call them "cute" anymore, Dave would likely still hate them anyway. That guy just can't let go of his grudges.
Dave's sub has a hyperdrive.
This would explain how he gets from Berlin to London in less than five minutes in his penguin kidnapping spree.
Before becoming evil, Dave worked for the North Wind.
Just a thought. It would explain his prowess with technology. Maybe the North Wind saw that he kept getting transported around the world, and decided to recruit him so he could have a home and friends. They taught him how to use all sorts of secret agent technology and strategies. But when Dave learned that they were fighting for cute, defenseless animals - just like the penguins that got him kicked out of every zoo - he became enraged, then left the North Wind, and started plotting revenge on the penguins with his newfound power
Dave is genetically altered
He clearly doesn't resemble the other octopuses in the film. Also, humans appear to understand his speech as shown when he is disguised as Dr. Octavius Brine, even though the original movie
established that humans can't understand animals.
The ray mutated the penguins permanently
While most of their mutations were fixed by Private, it didn't completely fix them, and that's why Skipper is even more paranoid, Kowalski in the show is so much crazier and smarter than the movies, and Rico can both eat and choke up things that are larger than he is.
The Medusa Serum didn't affect Rico mentally at all — it only affected him physically
I'm guessing this because when Private's able to get Skipper and Kowalski to recognize him, Skipper notices that, mutated or not, Rico's pretty much the same mentally-speaking—and yet Rico seems to recognize Private even more quickly than Skipper and Kowalski do.