Lately, there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding a lot of movies that Universal Pictures had on its release slate.
The general idea was that Universal wished to replicate the successes of Marvel (and to a lesser extent DC) by using its various iconic monster properties to establish a group of interconnected adventure franchises.
The first film, intended to launch several others, was 2017’s remake of The Mummy, which more or less crashed and burned. And this has thrown the future of the Universal master plan into turmoil, with leading creative types taking on other projects and many suggesting that the would-be “Dark Universe” is no more.
One review for The Mummy summed it up with concise brutality, stating, “The Dark Universe fails instantly.”
This is naturally of great concern to Universal in general, but it’s particularly problematic for the rumored follow-up, Bride Of Frankenstein. Though Universal has been somewhat coy about the specifics of its plans (beyond releasing a whole bunch of monster flicks), this was the project that was closest to coming together as a semi-sequel to The Mummy, and frankly (no pun intended) it’s one that could easily have excited fans for two reasons: first, there hasn’t been a major Frankenstein movie in a long time, and second, the cast was promising.
To be clear, there are always Frankenstein movies of some kind. For instance, Frankenstein’s Army came out in 2015, as did Victor Frankenstein. There are also occasional tributes to older, more classic Frankenstein material, such as a video game that even now is circulating online as an homage to the original ‘30s film. The game is just a slot arcade, but anyone who plays it will be reminded of classic Frankenstein from the moment they launch the “creepy-as-heck” opening credits, as the description says.
Still, none of this amounts to a major Frankenstein project. The modern films feel like spinoffs or reimagined material, and the game is just a shade of an old film. In a way, we’re due for a modern flagship movie for this most iconic of monsters.
As mentioned, the cast was also shaping up nicely. Fans paying attention have known for some time now that Javier Bardem was in line to play the famous monster, and he looks the part (in a way – we mean as no insult to the talented actor). We’ve also learned that Angelina Jolie was slated for a role in the film, though her part is murkier (we presume she’d play the Bride). The two of them make for an interesting, fresh on-screen pair that could have injected some intrigue into the project from the beginning, regardless of the struggles of The Mummy.
This shouldn’t all be read as a commentary on what could have been, however – instead, it’s still what might be.
While true that the Dark Universe is on the ropes, a report this fall indicated that Bride Of Frankenstein has been postponed, rather than cancelled, and the aforementioned stars aren’t walking away.
That’s an encouraging and somewhat surprising vote of confidence from the two people who might have the most power to make this franchise somewhat serious. It leaves us with the tiniest shred of hope that Universal’s big idea could yet be salvaged.
At the very least, it won’t be difficult to do better than The Mummy.