This week, the latest Tom Cruise helmed actioner/franchise starter The Mummy was released onto audiences around the globe. Though it is intended to be the commencement of a “Dark Universe” from the studio with no capes in its stable that is Universal, things are not looking too great. Historically, the entertainment industry is filled with aborted film franchises that never took flight because the first entry was a dud (Power Rangers, remember the Six planned films?). This is too bad, because with a few changes, a universe of classic monsters could be a smash hit.
Here are a few things I would do if given the creative reigns, though I don’t except a call from the studio. Apparently, they’re happy with the crew they’ve assembled to make these things.
Point 01. Don’t have them all in the Modern Day
Putting the Mummy and other iconic monsters in modern times right off the bat is stupid. Quite frankly, in a landscape where modern placed films are dominated by superheroes of the light and gritty variety, seeing London destroyed again or the Invisible Man traipsing about San Francisco or Las Vegas reeks of stupid imitation. None of these characters will be Avengers or members of the Justice League. In many ways, they’re products of unique eras and need to stay that way.
In my vision, I’d make each of the announced films period pieces and have them set at different times in American history. If you remember the old monster movies (And I don’t think you do.), a lot of the creatures in them wanted acceptance from society and once burned became scary.
Why not make each film a metaphor for a different outcast member of mainstream society at different points in history? It could totally work. Frankenstein could be a reanimated slave created by an ambitious scientist in order to turn the tide of the Revolutionary War. The Invisible Man? He’s a WW1 veteran with PTSD who was fucked up by chemical weapons of unknown origin. That could totally work. I won’t share it here, but my Wolfman take is even better. Going through different parts of this nation’s past with one character at a time before having them team up in the modern day is a far more interesting take. But alas, it won’t be adapted for the cinema.
Point 02. Give them a great Bad Guy to Fight
Let’s be real, if you’re going to get a bunch of supernatural characters scarred and marred by personal experiences together in one film, there’s only one entity that they could reasonably be threatened by and have to work together to defeat, and that’s Satan. Make him the puppet master behind the scenes who reveals himself in the present as a means to start WW3 and these characters (Who don’t age due to being marred by the Prince of Darkness.) will have a reason to come together, break the respective curses that haunt them and bring peace to the larger world.
Point 03. Don’t Overstretch
Universal, I’m going to give you some fucking real talk here so brace yourselves, ok, are you ready? Here goes….
THESE CHARACTERS CAN’T SUSTAIN A MARVEL LEVEL UNIVERSE!
Nope, not one bit. If they’re going to make films with classic monsters, give each one movie a piece and be selective about them popping up in the stories of others before the team up. Honestly, Frankenstein is not a character who could appear in 5 or six movies, let alone two or three. Same goes for the Invisible Man, the Wolf Man, Dracula and the Black Lagoon Creature. Keep it narrow, make each film look unique and you would have a great franchise. But based on how things are going, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And that dear reader, is a shame.