Welcome back to another edition of Fantasy Fridays, where two real-life best friends get to play studio execs and cast talent for upcoming projects. We sort of take the same tact as the old Wizard Magazine features where we choose our dream picks for coveted roles without necessarily being tied down to realistic options.
With the case of Universal's upcoming Cinematic Universe of Classic Monsters, we thankfully have a very wide palette to choose from since the studio has already secured some surprisingly high-profile talent. So that actually takes some of the "pie in the sky/fantasy" nature out of our picks, since it seems like they're able to get who ever they want to appear in these films.
So far, we've got The Mummy with stars like Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. Then there's Johnny Depp, who's signed on for The Invisible Man. The sky's the limit for these monster flicks, it seems.
Let's get to it!
Let's start by recapping what the plan is:
Universal Pictures really is the granddaddy of "Cinematic Universes." While Marvel Studios has taken that concept and made it a household idea in the last nine years, Universal was actually making movies set within a shared world over 70 years ago. They introduced their versions of classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Creature from The Black Lagoon, and The Invisible Man, and then started having crossovers. Whether they were big-time confrontations like Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man or Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man, Universal proved that they'd created a big sandbox for all of their monsters to play in.
Fast forward to the present day and Universal Pictures is preparing to relaunch that idea on an even grander scale. The rumored plan is to reintroduce their classic roster of monsters to the world, and then culminate with a major crossover event.
Jeremy Scully and I want to take what little is known about Universal's plan and flesh it out. We want to see a series of films, set across different time periods, that all culminate with a movie that's like the cult-classic 1987 film The Monster Squad, which was written by Shane Black. For those unfamiliar, the film was like a mash-up that you could some up as "The Goonies Meet The Universal Monsters." Our version would be far less jokey and lighthearted, and more of an action thriller. And it wouldn't center on kids. But it would include the idea that all of these creatures have come together for nefarious purposes and it's up to a small group of heroic civilians to stop them.
As usual, though, Scully and I have opposing ideas, so you'll see two different paths to the big crossover event and alternate takes on these iconic characters and mythologies.
"My version of Dracula would be the classic, OG seductive vampire. A character that can be hypnotic, persuasive, vile, and charming all at once. Not one of those glittery, emo vampires from Twilight, or a pretty boy from True Blood. I want a smooth, slick Count Dracula that you can easily see getting a woman to want him to bite her, while also having the charisma to be the leader of a group of evil creatures. Because of that, I'd love to tap Negan himself, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Assuming, of course, that he can pull off a decent Transylvanian accent without sounding like The Count from Sesame Street.
Oh, and I'd set the bulk of his origin film in the 1970s, unleashing the lascivious Count in an era of excess where he could hide in plain sight, and even rock his cape without attracting attention. The film would open with him killing Abraham Val Helsing, who'd be played in a cameo by Ian McKellen. We'd be given the impression that Van Helsing had been hunting Dracula since the 40s."
MFR's Pick: Jeffrey Dean Morgan
"My Dracula would be The Lord of the Vampires, and I'd want him to be played by Ken Watanabe. In my version, there'd be a shadowy Organization that looms over all of the movies and, thanks to them, Dracula is no longer the force he once was. Also, vampires are dying out because of vampire hunters like the Van Helsings, so the name Dracula doesn't quite hold the weight it once did. Dracula has a plan in mind, one that will set his power in stone."
Scully's Pick: Ken Watanabe
"Like I said earlier, we'd see the classic Van Helsing get killed off within the first five minutes of my first Dracula movie. But that's not to say that there wouldn't be more Van Helsing goodness in my version of the Universal Cinematic Universe. Nope. I'd actually introduce Van Helsing's American grandson within that same Dracula movie. He'd attempt to continue his grandfather's work, knowing that his grandpa had dedicated his life to the pursuit of the elusive vampire, despite no one ever believing the Count existed. He did believe, and so he takes on the pursuit.
This young version of Van Helsing's grandson that we meet in the 1970s would be played by Jon Bernthal.
MFR's Pick For 70s Era Van Helsing Grandson: Jon Bernthal
"But since I'd want Van Helsing's grandson to appear in the present day crossover Monster Squad-type movie, I'd also need to cast the man who would be the grizzled, older version who works alongside Tom Cruise and others to stop the monsters. Who should play the present day Van Helsing? Harrison f'ing Ford."
MFR's Pick For Present Day Van Helsing Grandson: Harrison Ford
"For mine, I'd want an old and wise proper Abraham Van Helsing. He's been hunting monsters his whole life, just like his father before him and so on. The Van Helsing bloodline wouldn't be too different from the video game Castlevania, Belmont lineage. There could even be some tie-in with the Organization I mentioned earlier. The man I'd want for this would be none other than Liam Neeson. The plot here would be set in modern times (confirmed by writer John Spaights) with Neeson teaming up with his daughter and son to hunt down the latest version of Dracula, which we will also learn is a 'lineage' as there is someone always to take the mantle of 'Count Dracula' (potentially originating from Vlad The Impaler or even earlier).
His kids would be played Emilia Clarke and Liam Hemsworth. I'd also want Lee Byung-Hun to play his right hand man and bodyguard, Jonathan Harker."
Scully's Pick For Abraham Van Helsing: Liam Neeson
THE WOLF MAN
"This was a tough one for me, because The Wolf Man is my favorite. I've always been fascinated by the concept of wrestling with the monster within, and the appeal of that is also why I love The Incredible Hulk. Both characters require an actor that is deeply sympathetic and can convey emotional and psychological complexity. When Lawrence Talbot "wolfs out" you're no only scared for the people he may hurt, but also for the man within because you know he doesn't want to hurt anyone and he'll be destroyed to discover what he's done when morning comes. My pick to play Talbot/The Wolf Man is Charlie Cox, who I think shows he can manage all of these complex layers in Daredevil."
MFR's Pick: Charlie Cox
"While Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is apparently in talks for the role, I'm finding myself wanting Alexander Skarsgard for it. After his pretty primal performance in Legend of Tarzan, his ability to bulk-up, and his time on True Blood I think all lend credence to him getting this part! My version would be something very different for the Wolf Man. I'd like to take a page out of the old 1970s Hulk TV show. This film is about Skarsgard, who is was turned into the Wolf Man by his father (John Talbot) who either is the head or part of the same organization that made Victor Frankenstein create his monsters. The idea was for Skarsgard to be the 'ultimate' soldier, but instead he rejected his 'path' and has gone off in hiding being pursued by the organization.
I'd get Sean Bean play his potentially evil (maybe just misunderstood) father, John. He could potentially be used in the Bride of Frankenstein movie as well. And I'd want Marion Cotillard to play Gwen Conliffe, the love interest. She'd be a part of the manhunt for Talbot, and she is slightly conflicted by her duty to the organization and her husband, believing what they are doing is for the best and Lawrence needs to come back or be put down."
Scully's Pick: Alexander Skarsgard
"My version of Frankenstein's monster would be the tortured brute that Boris Karloff played, with a hint of Peter Boyle's interpretation from Young Frankenstein. A massive, imposing figure that actually has a kind nature without the mental tools to have the normal life he so desires. While he's scary, he can almost be adorable with how childlike his naivety makes him. He means well, but he's easy to manipulate, and there are times when he realizes that the only way to survive is to be the very monster everyone sees him as. I'd cast Paul Wight, aka "The Big Show," as the Monster, while casting someone like Christian Bale to do the heavy lifting as Dr. Frankenstein.
MFR's Pick For Frankenstein's Monster: Paul Wight
"I like Javier Bardem for this role. He's the front runner for the part and sources say he's pretty much a shoe-in. I'm totally on board, as most times I can't understand half the stuff he says anyway unless he's doing it in a creepy voice. The script is from David Koepp (Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible) and he's mentioned how he wants the monster to be truly intimidating. So I'm picturing Bardem making the monster more of a cold blooded sociopath similar to No Country For Old Men.
And I'd have Christoph Waltz as Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Not much is known about the script so I'm picturing Waltz as a Victor Frankenstein in a modern era, where he's contracted by a military group to reanimate the dead. His first creation (or maybe his most successful) is The Monster (Bardem) who has the mind of soldier, now devoid of any compassion or empathy). Realizing the horror he's created, he fakes his death and sets in motion the plans to create the "Bride of Frankenstein" to stop The Monster."
Scully's Pick: Javier Bardem
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN
"For the Bride of Frankenstein, I want an actress who has range, possesses innate strength, will suffer no fools, and can hold her own while standing alongside other iconic characters. For that task, my top choice would be Kerry Washington, who's proven herself many a time."
MFR's Pick: Kerry Washington
"I've heard the rumors about Angelina Jolie, and I'm all-in on that. David Koepp has made it seem that Frankenstein might either appear before or in this movie, with the idea being he's been out there in the world for quite some time before this movie starts. Jolie would be playing a more intelligent Bride of Frankenstein potentially created to stop Javier Bardem."
Scully's Pick: Angelina Jolie
If you enjoyed this feature and would like to see previous iterations, you can click on any of these links:
Thanks for reading! And don't forget to chime in on the conversation. Which one of us had the better picks? Who would you offer as alternatives? We want to hear your two cents!