In a cinema landscape that's increasingly moving into the realms of 'expanded universes', Universal Pictures has announced their own interconnecting film world: the Dark Universe.
It's a new collective of their classic Universal Monster movies that will see some of their legendary characters brought back to life in a new franchise. The series officially begins this week with The Mummy, which stars Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella (as the titular villain) and Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll and his alter-ego Mr. Hyde.
And in the last week or so, the studio has announced that Johnny Depp and Javier Bardem are part of the world too, as The Invisible Man and Frankenstein’s Monster, respectively. But what other legendary creatures of the night could we soon see? Well, here’s some to tickle the taste buds...
Professor Abraham Van Helsing is a doctor and a vampire hunter, seen as the "archenemy" of Dracula but in 2004’s Van Helsing, which starred Hugh Jackman in the title role, the character was made into more of a “monster hunter”.
While a film hasn’t been announced in with the Dark Universe, we mention him here as he may have already been cast: murmurs on-line suggest that Tom Cruise may be secretly playing him in The Mummy, even though his character is officially named Nick Morton.
How this would work in the context of both the film and the universe remains to be seen but stranger things have happened in the past – remember when Jackman’s version was also a werewolf?
Bride of Frankenstein
This remake is the second planned movie in the Dark Universe with a release date already set (Valentine’s Day 2019), a director in place in the form of Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast) and screenwriter David Koepp taking the first stab at the script.
The original, first released in 1935, was a sequel to the original Frankenstein with Boris Karloff reprising his role as the Monster, joined by Elsa Lanchester in the dual-role of Mary Shelley and the Monster’s mate.
We know that Javier Bardem will be playing the new Monster but just who could play his new mate? For our money, Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams or Anne Hathaway could pull off the role for sure - expect casting of this one very soon.
One of the most recognisable characters from the Monster-lore, The Wolfman has been brought to the screen in a variety of forms.
Werewolf In London was Universal’s first attempt in 1935 but due to it not being commercially successful, the studio brought it back six years later with Lou Chaney famously portraying the character and would do through five films.
The official legacy lay dormant for decades while other classic werewolf films, such as The Howling and An American Werewolf in London, flew the flag with still-unsurpassed special effects in the early 1980’s.
In 2007, a remake with Benicio del Toro in the lead role was greenlit but due to several delays and production issues, the film didn’t make to cinemas until 2010 and was met with poor reviews and box office.
Dwayne Johnson was linked to the new film last year, but we think someone outside of the box (of the ilk of Joaquin Phoenix or Casey Affleck) would fit the bill.
The Prince of Darkness himself, Dracula is the 'big daddy' of the Universal Monsters lore.
The original was released in 1931 with Bela Lugosi in the title role, a role he became synonymous with throughout his career. Over the years Gary Oldman, Frank Langella and, most recently, Luke Evans have portrayed the character but none have come close to Lugosi’s original.
With his impending return to cinemas, the question remains of who has the chops to bring him back? One name stands out from all others: Mads Mikkelsen. Anyone who has seen his turn as Hannibal Lecter will agree that he has all the attributes (and an alluring foreign accent) to pull this off. Take note, Universal.
Creature from the Black Lagoon
Of all the monsters that are being re-imagined, the Creature from the Black Lagoon is perhaps the one that is most rife for a re-telling.
First appearing in 1954, the film saw a “piscine amphibious humanoid” emerge from under the sea to wreak havoc both in the Amazon and California. A remake has been mooted for decades, with famed directors John Landis, John Carpenter and Peter Jackson linked through the years.
Writer Will Beall (Aquaman) is onboard for the new version, with Scarlett Johansson linked to a role back in 2015 as the lead female character.
As for the Creature itself, perhaps a motion-captured performance would be the way to go to bring him back to life with Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth or Alexander Skarsgard each having the ideal physique help bring it back to life.
With the likes of Cruise, Depp, Bardem and Crowe already signed on, it looks like Universal isn’t messing around with their new incarnations – and we couldn’t be more excited to see these classic heroes and villains back on the big screen once again.
Click here to book your tickets for The Mummy, opening this Friday.
Scott J. Davis is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.