Anyone who is a true lover of horror has seen the Universal classic monsters from the 1950s and 60s. Lon Chaney Junior, Boris Karloff and others helped not only to define a movie genre, but created characters and roles that people adore to this day. Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” was the first in the new Shared Dark Universe, and, given its massive debut, it won’t be the last.
With the success of the Marvel and DC extended universe, it was only a matter of time before someone did the same thing for horror. The idea of mashing up beloved characters is nothing new. We had Predator vs Alien, Freddy vs. Jason and even classic monsters got together in the golden age of cinema, but none of these were anything like what Universal plans to do. My only question is: Do we need a shared monster universe?
They’ve Tried It Before
Universal monsters have been epically popular for decades. They’ve not only become icons of the horror genre, but at the Universal Hollywood Studios theme park too. They tried to capitalize on this formula before in the 2010 reimagining of the original “The Wolfman” starring Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro. It was a valiant effort, but a commercial failure. According to IMDB.com, the film cost $150 million to make and only recouped about $61 million. They shelved the idea of bringing back their classic monsters until Marvel and DC created a shared universe where all their heroes and villains existed in the same time and space.
Fast forward to 2014 and Dracula Untold, an origin story about one of the most popular universal monsters ever. Everyone assumed that it was to be the beginning of something big, and, had it performed well, it might have. With a lackluster plot and no real A-list actors, sorry Dominic Cooper, it died on the vine and didn’t even break even. It wasn’t until this year’s “The Mummy,” starring movie juggernaut Tom Cruise, that the shared universe came to fruition. What about Dracula Untold? Sounds like Universal is keeping that separate.
What We Know About The Future
“The Mummy” killed it at the box office, solidifying it as not only a commercial success, but the anchor for the Dark Universe. It’s already been reported that the Bride of Frankenstein will be the next movie, and Javier Bardem has been rumored as having a role. It sounds like an odd choice at first glance, but you can introduce both Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster and the bride in one movie. It makes great sense from a plot perspective, because everyone already knows the principal players, and you don’t have to go through all that character development.
After that…it’s anyone’s guess. Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, starring Amy Schumer and Sandra Bullock?
Do We Need It
It sounds awesome if it’s done right. Who doesn’t love it when familiar characters are introduced into other shows? They’ve been doing it for decades. The crossover episodes are saved for sweeps week, because everyone wants to see Barry Allan palling around with Supergirl. We want to see Barry Allan jokingly trading shots with Green Arrow.
I’m usually pessimistic about these things, but I’m excited to see the Dark Universe. There’s a reason why Marvel’s cinematic universe is popular, and the classic monsters were all PG back the good old days. The Dark Universe has the potential to be amazing if the stories and characters are appealing. My greatest concern is that the plots will get too convoluted simply to bring the monsters together. If it’s not done naturally, then don’t do it. Also, don’t put in so many popular characters that there’s hardly any screen time for one-on-one. That’s the biggest problem Marvel has now. There are so many heroes and villains involved that scenes quality is compromised for the sake of fitting everyone in.
Will The Dark Universe be a success? Yes. Universal is putting the money and the star power behind it, but will true horror fans enjoy it? I hope so. What do you think?