Universal is all-in with their massive shared universe reboot of classic monster films. Based on the big names set to lead this new wave of monster movies, Universal is banking on audiences following along for the ride. Kicking off the updates will be The Mummy, lead by Tom Cruise; Followed by The Invisible Man with Johnny Depp as the titular character, and The Wolfman, which has no cast just yet.
Other monsters making a comeback include Bride of Frankenstein and Dracula, even though the story presented in 2014’s Dracula Untold may not be connected. Angelina Jolie is another potential big name that could be linked to the new Universal franchise with rumblings of her in the role of Frankenstein’s bride along with Javier Bardem as Dr. Frankenstein. Russell Crowe has also been confirmed as Dr. Jekyll for The Mummy, and even though he doesn’t have his own film (yet), perhaps he’ll be a connector in more than one of these monster films.
With this litany of monsters wreaking havoc once more, there’s got to be someone bold enough to stop them. Van Helsing, a character that was first introduced in Bram Stoker’s Dracula back in 1897, stands as the perfect foil for powerful supernatural beings. In an interview with Cinema Blend, screenwriter Eric Heisserer (Arrival) confirmed that his Van Helsing film will be part of the monster movie continuity as well. On the placement of the film, he says:
“It is [part of the shared universe] right now. This is early in the process, and it’s evolutionary. I don’t know if that’s going to stay that way. But right now there is an absolute… there’s some cartilage that links it to other pieces, like The Mummy.”
An expansive, shared monster universe could build on the mythology like singular films The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) and Hugh Jackman/Kate Beckinsale’s Van Helsing (2004). If, in fact, Universal reworked their plan after a lackluster fan response to Dracula Untold, 2017’s The Mummy really has the potential to setup this shared monster-verse in a much more solid way.
What could actually work in Universal’s favor is setting the classic monsters in modern times. While there are no real details about Van Helsing other than it drawing inspiration from Mad Max: Fury Road, the first synopsis of The Mummy provides insight that could set the tone for the entire franchise — “The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.”
Bringing in screenwriters from The Expendables for The Wolfman, promising an action feel like Dracula Untold, and with supernatural buffs like Alex Kurtzman in the mix, this Universal monster universe is worth keeping an eye on.
The Mummy will open in U.S. theaters on June 9th, 2017, followed by Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Films on April 13th, 2018 and February 15th, 2019.