We live in an age of sprawling, connected universes full of adventure films. We may think of it as having begun with Marvel, but the truth is that there are plenty of examples out there. The Marvel and DC superhero sagas are certainly filled with crossovers and connected narratives. The Harry Potter franchise is about to get the first of five planned spinoffs that take place in the “Wizarding World,” outside of the actual Harry Potter story.
It’s an exciting way for studios to build up rich, sustainable, and highly marketable worlds. This year we’ve also learned that Universal has taken notice, and is looking to capitalize on the concept. The studio has a plan to release connected monster movies and bring back classic film characters from Dracula to Frankenstein. Right now a lot of the details like titles, casting decisions, and plot lines remain murky, but here’s a look ahead at the films that we know are being developed and planned.
The Mummy (2017)
By far the most concrete of the planned Universal projects is The Mummy, a new version of the classic 1932 Boris Karloff film. Tom Cruise will play a protagonist named Tyler Colt, Sofia Boutella will play the title monster, and in the most curious casting decision, Russell Crowe will take up the part of Dr. Henry Jekyll (as in Hyde). We don’t know of a Jekyll & Hyde film yet, but this may be the first real indication of the intricacies of a connected universe. Crowe’s character could be a supporting figure that is set to star in his own narrative later on. As for the plot, this film should look familiar to fans of the franchise. Basically, a cursed mummy will awaken from its tomb in modern times to wreak havoc, with only Tom Cruise to stop it.
Wolf Man (Untitled)
We know very little about the Wolf Man reboot, other than that Slashfilm has reported that it will be coming out in 2018. That would likely make it the second film in Universal’s planned monster universe. So we could actually see this project before The Invisible Man. However, the fact that Johnny Depp has already been cast as the Invisible Man and we don’t know anything at all about the specifics for Wolf Man would seem to cast some doubt on the order.
The Invisible Man (Untitled)
This untitled project may be the biggest surprise on the list. The original novella by H.G. Wells came out in the late-19th century and the last noteworthy film was in 1933, but this project has a few things going for it. For one thing there is still a presence for this story in modern entertainment. Gambling.com includes a slot arcade game based on The Invisible Man as part of a large collection of similar gaming options. The game substitutes ordinary slot reel icons with a sci-fi/Victorian blend of illustrations related to the plot. Johnny Depp is slated to star as a man who discovers a serum that makes him both invisible and insane.
Van Helsing (Untitled)
Like The Mummy, the new Van Helsing project will carry a bit of a burden. The last time the character of Van Helsing was brought to the silver screen was both silly and over the top, making many forget his role in the original Dracula tale. Stephen Sommers’ 2004 attempt was an overstuffed hodgepodge of Universal monsters, elevated slightly by the charisma of Hugh Jackman in the leading role, but ultimately forgettable. The reboot will face unique challenges of finding a suitable replacement for Jackman and devising a compelling Dracula character. Some believe that Luke Evans’s character from Dracula Untold was a sort of under-the-radar beginning to this monsters universe, but that remains to be seen.
Creature From The Black Lagoon (Untitled)
This one is pretty much anybody’s guess. The 1954 film is a classic monster movie and deals with a team of explorers in South America and a horrifying beast lurking. It’s probably the most monster-y of the planned monster movies and we’re definitely curious as to how Universal will reimagine the legendary Gill-man today.
Bride Of Frankenstein (Untitled)
Finally, there’s also an expected Bride Of Frankenstein film but it’s too far off for us to know how it will be presented. That said, there is some juicy information on this project. According to Deadline, Javier Bardem is in talks to play Frankenstein’s monster, which is a perfect casting move. If you saw him as the treacherous, disfigured villain Silva in Skyfall, you get it.
That covers just about everything we know about Universal’s lineup. It’s definitely an ambitious project and we’ll start to see what it’s all about in just a few months.