When first announced, it sounded like such a cool concept: Universal decided to not only start making “monster movies” again, but they were going to make a “shared cinematic universe” (that IS all the rage these days, after all) for their classic characters to play around in. This Summer sees the beginning of the plan with the release of ‘The Mummy‘ starring Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, and Russell Crowe – but oddly, Universal hasn’t officially announced any more films with firm release dates. So, what gives?
The plans certainly seem to have been set in motion already: while the recent ‘Dracula Untold‘ isn’t technically part of this “MonsterVerse” series, ‘The Mummy’ will feature Crowe as Dr. Henry Jekyll, himself a classic monster character and a presumed connecting point for future films. Johnny Depp has signed on to play The Invisible Man in a film in the series, and Javier Bardem has been rumored to be circling the Frankenstein mantle… but beyond this, we’ve only heard brief mentions of other films that “might be,” including intriguing name-drops like ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon‘ and another stab at a ‘Van Helsing‘ movie.
Recently, Collider had a chance to chat with Chris Morgan (he of the writing the last seven ‘Fast & Furious’ films fame), who is handling the “MonsterVerse” over-arching plot and connectivity, along with Alex Kurtzman. Morgan seemed happy to speak at length about the planned series, even if he was vague in talking about definitive future plans:
“We kind of designed them all to be kind of standalone sorts of franchises that have kind of similar things between them. And as the scripts came in, then we started putting them in a, ‘Well this would be a good order. We reveal this here’ so now it really comes down to, again, it’s a studio decision on which film is coming out next. Just with all the films we’re working on, Bride of Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfman, Invisible Man, and on and on and on, it’s a real embarrassment of riches in terms of awesome, fun characters. I always say it this way: I’m in my office right now and I’ve got a Werewolf head mounted on the wall. It’s pretty good to come into your office and—that’s what you’re working with, you’re working with monsters that are 80, almost 100 years old. There’s a real legacy, a real respect, the fact that this studio, I don’t think, would have lasted if it wasn’t for the monsters, it really built up.”
As for whether the plan is for all the “MonsterVerse” films to be set in contemporary times or potentially be “flashbacks,” Morgan elaborated:
“The studio is mostly interested in just doing good films. They would like them generally to be more contemporary I think, just to reflect a modern sensibility and a modern take on the monsters. The Mummy is one of the first modern day—for Universal anyway—Mummy films; all the others are period. But there are no rules, so if there is a great period version of these that’s just undeniable, then we’ll absolutely fight for that and go for it.”
Finally, Morgan waxed poetic a bit about what the appeal of these classic monsters can be to today’s audiences:
“I think why people will love these monster films is the they are an homage to the originals, which means you’re gonna get complex characters. And the thing that I think is interesting about monsters is that they are always exaggerations of human attributes or human fears. For example, Frankenstein was a result of the kind of industrial and scientific revolution—are we playing God? Should we be playing God? And with the Wolfman there’s that worry of what happens if I lose control? What happens if I hurt the things around me that I love? There’s very human questions and worries and fears and darkness and cravings.”
‘The Mummy’ hits American theaters on June 9, 2017.
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