The shared universes that are usually hogging the headlines these days are none other than that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. These are, after all, living universes currently made up of several films. Audiences have some kind of basis on which to make their opinions. The Universal Monsters Universe is a different beast. We have little knowledge as to their overall approach, and we have little idea as to how expansive it’ll be in time and locations.
On deck so far is The Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise and a gender-swapped Mummy in the form of Sofia Boutella. The Invisible Man is set to be played by Johnny Depp, and even Russell Crowe is getting in on the action as Dr. Jekyll. The potential for greatness is huge, but as with any huge undertaking, so is the potential for failure.
One other big film on the horizon is a new Van Helsing reboot. Up until now, details regarding the film have been sparse, but now, thanks to an interview with Collider, writer Jon Spaihts — who also has his hand in the Mummy reboot — has revealed that the film will be set in the present day.
“[Van Helsing is] a new creation, so it doesn’t owe much of a debt to prior films. But it is still a very romantic departure from the character as incepted in Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, where [he] was a Dutch doctor who figures out a very surprising answer to an odd medical question. This is a monster hunter with encyclopedic knowledge. It’s set in the present day and it’s just filled with good stuff I’m not allowed to talk about. But I’m very excited about this new incarnation of Van Helsing, and I hope that as the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe begins to take flight, we’ll see him cropping up in other stories, as well.”
This is another confirmation of one of their films being set in the present day — the first being The Mummy. It is worth noting that this comment seems to fly in the face of the approach taken by the film Dracula Untold, which hit theaters back in 2014. There were thoughts that this was intended to be the first film in this universe (not unlike how Man of Steel retroactively kicked of the DCEU), but Spaihts comments potentially imply that the Van Helsing film will have little to do with Untold.
Another question fans have been having regarding this universe is that of the tone? Early on, it was stated that the movies would largely be in the action-adventure vein, but since then, there have been reports that these movies will indeed be fright fests. So which is it? Speaking on the inspiration from the original films, Spaihts embellished on the tone and confirmed that the movies will be bringing the scares the audiences crave — especially since film studios have learned well on the best ways to scare said audiences.
“Even to go back to the original Universal Monster movies with Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff, they were not really terrifying even then. Maybe sensibilities were different and people were easier to scare at the time. But [those classic films were] slow; they’re parlor stories for the most part — not terrifying in modern terms. [Now] we’ve gotten really good at scaring people in movies. So, the nice thing about The Mummy is that it has the swash-buckling action-adventure character of a modern epic action movie, but it’s legit terrifying. It will scare you.”
I know it’s easy to look at this new trend and roll your eyes at Hollywood’s eternal struggle to secure the moviegoers’ hard-earned cash, but this whole universe is one that I see potential in. Given the right approach, it can be a fun universe the likes of which we’ve never seen, and the likes of which would only be possible with these classic characters.
What do you think of Spaihts’ comments? Let us know in the comments down below!
The Mummy hits theaters on June 9, 2017.