Universal’s Dark Universe adds new monsters, but where’s The Wolfman?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year you know that The Mummy is the first official entry into the recently-named Dark Universe, Universal’s shared universe of classic cinematic monsters. It opens this Friday and many of us here are looking forward to watching it, while nervously holding thumbs that it’s a solid movie.

The Mummy not only introduces us to Ahmanet/The Mummy (Sofia Boutella), but also Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll (in a package deal with Mr. Hyde) as the leader of the mysterious research group Prodigium, which tracks and monitors the creatures, monsters, and other unique individuals that exist in their world. And there’s also Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton who, if I’ve read the trailers correctly, gains some of The Mummy’s abilities as well thanks to her… interest.

As we can see from just the trailers there’s quite a lot of world and character building that’s going on in The Mummy as it lays the foundation for the Dark Universe. We also know that next in line is the Bride of Frankenstein, with Angelina Jolie being sought to headline that feature, while Johnny Depp is attached to The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem to Frankenstein.

In a recent interview with FANDOM Dark Universe producer, and The Mummy director, Alex Kurtzman laid out all the titles they’re currently working on adapting for the fledgling universe; including a couple of surprise additions:

 “We know we’re going to do Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Invisible Man.”

We saw all of these, except the Hunchback of Notre Dame unless my eyes deceived me, included in the Monsters Legacy trailer Universal released last month when they officially announced the Dark Universe moniker. Both the Phantom and the Hunchback seem like odd additions to the universe, although Nick’s sure to celebrate his role model Quasimodo’s return to the big screen.

A surprise omission from that list however is The Wolfman, which Dwayne Johnson was rumoured to be circling. The Wolfman is one of the most widely recognized monsters in Universal’s stable and while we haven’t seen a live-action cinematic representation of the Phantom and the Hunchback in ages, we got a new version of The Wolfman back in 2010. That star-studded film, starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving with practical effects from the legendary Rick Baker, may not have received a warm critical welcome, but it still did a fair bit to keep the classic character in audience’s consciousness. With Universal revealing their intentions and earmarking the associated stars for all their other projects so early on, the lack of Wolfman now is a strange oversight.

Kurtzman certainly isn’t mentioning the famed lycanthrope, but he did go on to say that further movies could be spun out of the already announced titles, focusing on “lesser” characters introduced in the main features:

“There are characters within those films that can grow and expand and maybe even spin off. I think that digging into deep mythologies about monsters around the world is fair game for us, as well and connecting the monsters that we know to some surprising monsters could also be really interesting.”

Van Helsing has already been mentioned before as a possible inclusion into the Dark Universe, but it’ll be very interesting to see how the universe develops and expands over the next few years – provided of course that The Mummy meets expectations and the entire shared universe doesn’t implode after taking its first step. It also seems fairly clear that Prodigium will be the connective tissue that binds all the entries together.

I really want to see this universe succeed. While I enjoy my superheroes – both the MCU’s shallow fun and the DCEU’s more “realistic” take – the Dark Universe brings something different to the table with its blend of action and horror. While horror purists and fans of the classics may not appreciate the more action-orientated and horror-lite take on the original movies, I think it’s an important change that’ll expand the audience and hopefully lead to the shared universe being successful overall.

Last Updated: June 7, 2017

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