Universal has been planning to reboot its Universal Monsters characters in a shared universe for quite some time now. We now know that the studio plans to anchor their classic monsters in a series of interconnected action-adventure movies, not horror films. That’s the angle we knew the studio was planning with the new Mummy movie, to be directed by Alex Kurtzman.
Donna Langley, the head of Universal, said that they’ll basically approach their legendary monsters as superheroes:
“We don’t have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. And we had an epiphany, which is that the horror genre has a ceiling; it’s not global. There’s a reason why monster characters are enduring, generation upon generation. So we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and re-imagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.” – Via
While Universal does own the rights to their own superhero property – Marvel’s Namor the Sub-Mariner – they are digging into the vaults for something that they could potentially turn into a shared cinematic franchise. This did work for The Mummy and The Mummy Returns with Brendan Fraser, so it isn’t entirely against the curve to assume these films could work as potential action/adventure blockbusters. Having said that, these films will have a hard time distinguishing themselves when both Warner Bros. and Disney continue to mine the DC and Marvel banks for potential properties for each of their respective cinematic universes.
Even before the previous reboots of the ’90s and early 2000s, Universal packaged many of their classic monsters in several films together. There was both House Of Dracula and House Of Frankenstein, which featured Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Wolf Man and a myriad of evil hunchbacks and scheming femme fatales all in the same movie. There was also the team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein that capped off Universal’s initial run of their classic movie monsters, before Hammer Studios re-imagined them for more jaded and modern audiences in the late ’50s.
Despite Van Helsing and The Wolfman, Universal has generally treated their monsters with great care and respect, they were their bread and butter when they were an up-and-coming studio. Hopefully we won’t see them shame that legacy just so they can cash in on some of that MCU and DCCU money. We’ll toss this up to the studio just wanting to play it safe instead of approaching their monsters with what defines them to their core, horror.
Images: Universal Pictures