With the Tom Cruise-starring The Mummy hitting theaters this weekend, fans get to experience on the big screen everything that made the original 1932 film a success, like airplane crashes that were shot in actual zero-gravity conditions, the most cutting edge special effects, and a mummy played by a beautiful actress.
Okay, well, none of those things are even the slightest bit similar to the monster movie featuring Boris Karloff wrapped in bandages and shuffling around and pretending to be Egyptian. Rather, the upcoming Mummy looks much more similar to the 1999 version starring Brendan Fraser, which went a more Indiana Jones route to modernize the story.
Universal Pictures recently laid out some of its plans for its slate of "Dark Universe" films, which will be reboots of their most famous monsters. Back in the '30s, when these films originally came out, the stories were all different enough from one another that they all stood on their own as distinct and iconic movies, but considering how many horror movies have come out featuring these characters in the last 80 years, we're fearful that the Dark Universe won't bring anything new to the table.
Based on trailers, clips, and featurettes, it's hard to believe that this year's Mummy has any connection to the black-and-white classic from 1932, but that's not inherently a bad thing. Considering how much the art of film has evolved since their debut, hopefullyThe Mummy isn't the only departure from source material we'll see in the Dark Universe, which is rife with amazing characters.
Here's how we think some of the most famous stories in all of cinema should be updated to give a new generation of audiences monsters as memorable as ones fans have loved for the better part of a century.
Javier Bardem has already been announced as portraying the undead amalgam that gets brought back to life by Dr. Frankenstein, which already has us excited. The actor has played a variety of villains, so he already brings with him tons of screen presence, which he owes, in part, to his charm and charisma.
Playing a hideous creation with a barely-functioning brain means we can't expect to see Bardem deliver eloquent soliloquies as the character, so how could this work? Thanks to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, we've seen just how compelling a character who stands tall but doesn't rely on language to convey ideas can be with Groot. Additionally, with Ron Perlman's Hellboy films, we've gotten to see just how heroic a monster can be when he's raised in the right conditions.
Hopefully the filmmakers behind Frankenstein's Monster embrace how fun it is to see the character interact with others and can potentially give us an action-adventure film with comedic elements. It's unclear exactly how "shared" this universe of monsters will be and how their timelines will intersect, but based on the success of Wonder Woman, we'd love to see something similar to a World War I movie with the Monster as a member of an elite platoon.prevnext
Bride of Frankenstein
Sadly, Bride of Frankenstein is the only character in this universe who is defined by their connection to another established character, so it automatically makes Frankenstein's Monster integral to her mythology. However, this presents a unique opportunity to totally lean into that relationship to play around with it.
Even though the original 1935 film doesn't feature the Monster actually obtaining a mate, the lens of pop culture has altered perceptions of the core concept to many audiences, so why not update the concept officially? Much like the Monster, his Bride could be the living undead, searching for her companion. Similar to a film like Steven Spielberg's A.I., audiences could witness her journey to reunite with her true love and explore all of the ways she can impact the lives of those she interacts with. The film would get bonus points by going all-in on the A.I. influence and leave the main character completely alone, pining for something she'll never obtain.
Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon has already been announced as the director with an intended 2019 release, so more than likely, this film is in the furthest stage of development of all the monsters.prevnext
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Russell Crowe will appear in The Mummy as Dr. Jekyll, which could give us hints as to the direction that his solo film might go in. Of all of the Universal Monsters, what makes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde interesting is that the main character brings on his awful curse intentionally, with the other characters mostly falling victim to the supernatural influences accidentally.
The makeup effects of an actor transforming into the nefarious Mr. Hyde won't hold the same impact as it did in 1931, which makes the psychological element of the story far more interesting. The film would be more compelling if the story was told from the perspective of our "hero" and gave audiences a chance to see how the chemical concoction he created impacted not only his physical self, but also his mind.
It's tough to feel sympathy for a character who willingly wants to tap into his dark side, but if the filmmakers keep the audience on their toes by making them question if they're seeing the film's reality or Jekyll's perceived "reality," it could be much more engaging than watching Russell Crowe turning into a brute to kill people.prevnext
The Invisible Man
Based on both box office performance and critical reception, film fans around the world both love Johnny Depp movies and absolutely hate Johnny Depp movies. Despite Depp continuously starring in some of the biggest budgeted movies hitting theaters, he hasn't made an acting choice in decades that intrigued audiences. The actor has become a character himself, whose most defining trait is that he loves to wear makeup and a variety of funny hats.
What makes casting Depp in The Invisible Man interesting is that, hopefully, for a large chunk of the film, you won't see the man in question, as he'll be, well, invisible. In 1933, the special effects that made the lead character disappear were groundbreaking, so why not lean into that angle once again? Depp could totally nail the eccentric scientist character, but we'd love to see the film go the route of something like David Cronenberg's The Fly, allowing the hero's translucency be a gradual evolution instead of a flip that gets switched.
In 2000, Paul Verhoeven attempted to convey the mental toll that becoming invisible would take on someone with the Kevin Bacon-starring Hollow Man, which audiences never really connected with. In the new Invisible Man, it's time they lean into the horrifying aspects of not being able to see your own body but also giving audiences something gruesome to look at.prevnext
The Wolf Man
One of the things that makes the mythology from the original The Wolf Man fascinating is that, despite popular opinion, the character's transition into a werewolf doesn't occur at every full moon, but rather when "the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright." Regardless of the actual frequency of the transformation, there are typically weeks in between the occurrences, allowing the character to reflect on how to prevent it from happening again.
Sadly, it was a heroic act that made Larry Talbot the victim of a wolf bite, bestowing upon him the curse of the werewolf. Many mythologies have developed over the years to explore a werewolf's weakness, most notably silver bullets, which, when combined with the tragedy of his origin, could see a character roaming the earth seeking ways to end his plight to prevent the harm of any future victims.
Speaking again to the potential variable timelines, the film could theoretically exist in a world where silver either isn't a readily found commodity or the werewolf mythology can be manipulated to avoid relying on a readily available substance as the creature's only weakness.prevnext
We've seen almost every incarnation of vampire throughout the history of art, ranging from the romantic in Bram Stoker's Dracula and Let the Right One In to the more primal versions in films like 30 Days of Night and Daybreakers. More often than not, vampires are given a more sophisticated demeanor, as that results in more compelling stories.
For all intents and purpose, vampires are immortal. More than your average human, they should be able to understand the value of a life well-lived, considering how much time they've had to live the best life possible. Rather than being explicitly horror, the film could be much more interesting if Dracula is shown existing at various points in time throughout history, appearing in a series of vignettes that take him through the course of hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Granted, a Dracula film that feels more like a Terrence Malick or Richard Linklater film that explores what it truly means to be alive might be a tough sell as a "monster movie," but would be infinitely more interesting than some guy trying to suck people's blood.
- Universal Pictures Reveals Dark Universe Official Cast & Trailer
- Bride of Frankenstein Announced as Next Movie in Universal's Dark Universe
- Dark Universe: All The Characters Teased For Universal's Monster Universe