The Beginnings of Universal’s Dark Universe
The Mummy, a film starring Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, recently was released on home video. The film focuses on Nick Morton, played by Cruise, and his interactions with Princess Ahmanet/The Mummy, a character portrayed by Sofia Boutella. Crowe plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, who everyone knows is the famed protagonist of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll will be acting as the connective tissue for what Universal is calling its Dark Universe. He will lead Prodigium, an international organization tasked with protecting the public from knowing about monsters but also tracking them too. The Mummy is merely the first installment of what Universal hopes are many more monster movies. It does a good job of exploring the psychology of the characters and the struggles they face. It is Mental Health Awareness Week, and the characters are lucky none of them seem to turn to heroin abuse to cope with their mental struggles, which could lead them to heroin rehab centers for help.
Universal Pictures is seeking to do what Disney has done with its Marvel Cinematic Universe and what Warner Bros. has done with DC Comics. Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem have also recently joined the Dark Universe, with Depp as the Invisible Man and Bardem as Frankenstein’s monster. The studio released a photo with these actors, but the photo also fuels questions, since it does not refer to the film Dracula Untold. This film was supposed to be a part of Universal’s new Dark Universe. What becomes of the film is unknown given that its star, Luke Evans, was not present in the photo with Depp and Bardem.
Universal Pictures chairperson Donna Langley stated her excitement for what is about to come. “We take enormous pride in the creativity and passion that has inspired the reimagining of Universal’s iconic monsters and promise audiences we will expand this series strategically,” Langley stated. The next installment after The Mummy will be Bride of Frankenstein from Beauty and the Beast and Gods and Monsters director Bill Condon, who will be directing from a script by David Koepp. It is doubtful any of the characters may have a need for heroin rehab centers, but until the film comes out, we will have to wait and see. Condon said he remembers and respects Universal’s other monster films.
“The Bride of Frankenstein remains the most iconic female monster in film history, and that’s a testament to (James) Whale’s masterpiece – which endures as one of the greatest movies ever made,” Condon stated. Overseeing the Dark Universe will be The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman, its producer Chris Morgan, Koepp, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation writer and director Christopher McQuarrie.
The critical reception to and box office performance of The Mummy will no doubt play a role in whether Universal keeps its current plans for the Dark Universe or whether the studio will go in a different direction altogether.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.