Universal Pictures doesn’t have a superhero franchise to call its own (unless you count Fast & Furious), but the studio is now actively developing a shared universe of movies that feature individuals with super-powers. That would be a reference to the cinematic universe reboot of Universal’s many classic monster movie properties; The Mummy, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Wolfman among them. Only The Mummy reboot is a sure-thing right now, having wrapped production earlier this year. It also remains to be seen if 2014’s Dracula Untold (an origin story movie for the version of Dracula played by Luke Evans) will be included as part of the shared monster universe, as was the plan at one point.
The Bride of Frankenstein is in the same mid-development stage as the bulk of Universal’s shared monster film universe. It has a script draft that was written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) and it’s long been reported that Angelina Jolie is Universal’s top pick to play the eponymous “Bride”. Just like any other shared cinematic universe (be it of the superhero variety or not), there’s also still the question of how these monster films will manage to both feel connected, yet at the same time have their own distinct personalities, so to speak.
Koepp, who is out and about promoting the new Dan Brown novel adaptation Inferno (which he scripted), has now provided Collider with an update on Bride of Frankenstein. He confirmed that his script draft for the film is done and that Universal is currently “figuring out their whole [monster] universe,” then shared the following insight about his Monster movie screenplay in particular:
I loved it. [‘Bride of Frankenstein’] one of my favorite scripts I’ve written in years because if you reimagine the Frankenstein story, it gets into so many issues of men trying to feel dominant over women. To create someone who then says, “You don’t own me,” it becomes a tale of liberation. It was great. It was really fun, and I hope it gets going soon because I think it’d make for a great movie.
Universal’s monsters all have their own unique origin stories, in addition to possessing very different “superpowers” and goals/motivations from one another. Koepp noted during his interview with Collider that the Bride of Frankenstein’s own backstory is part of what sets her apart from her supernatural peers – in the sense that “She’s a super-intelligent creature, but she’s dead, and that changes a person’s perspective.” Those differences are what make each Universal monster film its own creature (pardon the wording) and Koepp indicated that Universal’s current challenge is figuring out how to fit them all together to form a cohesive whole, without sacrificing the monsters’ individualities in the process:
[I] think they’re figuring that out as they go. I was in touch with the other people who were making Mummy and in touch with Universal and getting a sense of what they’re doing, because they can’t be wholly different movies, but each one is characterized by the personality of its creature. So the stories are dictated by the creature. In ours, the Bride is essentially a sympathetic figure. This tragic, hunted figure. And obviously the Mummy is a very bad entity that must be stopped. That’s not us. The troublemakers are the ones who would try to control her. To answer your question, we’re all from the same tree, but different kinds of fruit.
Superhero films that belong to the same cinematic universe have increasingly begun to rely on genre as the primary means by which they differentiate themselves from one another. This is something that the Universal monster movies cannot do so easily since they are all ultimately rooted in the supernatural horror genre. Koepp’s implication here that the creatures’ various personalities are strong enough to serve as the foundation for each of their films – making them feel both distinct, yet connected – is a solid one. It also sounds as though the monster universe’s architects (see The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman and Fast & Furious series writer Chris Morgan) are on the same page with him in that respect, so hopefully this “shared universe” will end up feeling more cohesively structured for it.
Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Films are scheduled to hit theaters on April 13th, 2018 and February 15th, 2019. We’ll let you know when Bride of Frankenstein gets an official theatrical release date.