comic book movies

Universal’s Shared Monster Universe, The new Avengers?

universal shared monster universeUniversal’s shared monster universe wants you to forget Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, because there’s a new set of heroes in town, but unfortunately they’re not as pretty. And traditionally instead of saving you, they prefer to kill you. But in a world where heroes sell, you gotta do what you gotta do to get into the game. And that’s exactly what Universal is doing right now. They may not have the rights to any Marvel or DC superheroes, but that isn’t stopping them from creating their own pseudo-superhero team-up movie. But instead of superheroes, they’re opting for monsters. Hmmm.

Okay so here’s what we know so far about the Universal monster shared universe: According to Universal Pictures’ Chairman Donna Langley, Universal have planned films for many different monsters, with a full slate to be announced later. We know that in 2016 we will be getting a ‘The Mummy’ reboot directed by Alex Kurtzman. And we know that the recently released Dracula Untold film is part of the larger shared monster universe. A Wolf Man film has also been announced for 2017. So with that information in mind, word is the shared monster universe will include:

  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein’s monster (and apparently his bride as well)
  • The Mummy
  • The Invisible Man
  • The Wolf Man
  • Creature from Black Lagoon
  • Van Helsing

Initially Dracula Untold was not to be part of the larger Universal shared monster universe, with The Mummy reboot to be the launching pad for the universe instead. However it was later revealed that a few re-shoots of Dracula Untold took place, which allowed the film to hint to the larger shared monster universe. Now I’m not going to lie, I haven’t actually watched Dracula Untold. Well I watched the first 15 minutes and got bored, but I might revisit it one day if I have nothing else to do. But I do know that in the final scene *spoilers if you haven’t seen Dracula Untold yet* we see Dracula in the modern day making his way through a crowded marketplace. Also there is the vampire who gave Dracula his powers, to which he says “Let the games begin”, end credits.

universal shared monster universe

(Credit: IGN)

So who is Universal’s answer to Marvel’s Kevin Feige? Well if you were a fan of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 then you’re in luck, because Alex Kurtzman will be the go to guy when it comes to spearing this Universal shared monster universe. But in all fairness Kurtzman isn’t all that bad. And he will have the help of many other talented individuals (Noah Hawley, Aaron Guzikowski, Ed Solomon and Chris Morgan).

But why am I comparing a bunch of Monsters to a bunch of superheroes? Well according to Diana’s recent comments, these films may be less monstery and more action-adventury-superheroey:

So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.

Now those comments don’t necessarily mean that these monsters will be more like superheroes, but if these films will be straying away from their horror roots, and are venturing into the action adventure genre, then I’m anticipating more of an anti-hero approach to all these characters, rather than straight up monsters. Now this could be interesting, but honestly, as sadistic as it sounds, I rather see a group of monsters tearing up the town, rather than a group of guys saving people. Blurgh. I already get my hero fix from superheroes. And it’s weird that I say this, because I am not a horror fan. I stay away from horror movies unless I’m forced to watch it at someone’s house. And I haven’t watched any of the original versions of these monster movies (probably should get on that), so I don’t really know what type of situation will suit these characters. But there is one character that I do really know well, and it’s not from his movies, but from his book, and that is Frankenstein’s monster.

universal shared monster universe

Look I don’t want no hero Frankenstein’s monster. I want him to be the guy with the biggest existential crisis who takes out his longing to be part of humanity, on humanity, by well you know, savagely murdering everyone. I guess in a way, I could see them take an anti-hero approach to his character. I haven’t watched the recent I, Frankenstein film, but apparently they took that approach there. Because really at the beginning of the Frankenstein novel, the creature (Frankenstein’s monster is referred to as ‘the creature’ in the novel) was a good guy. He wanted to learn and fit in, but that jerk Dr. Frankenstein basically told him to piss off. Then he promised the creature he would build him a wife, but instead destroys the wife he builds for the creature. The creature also gets into this whole thing with a blind guy’s family, the point is it wasn’t in his nature to be evil, it was his lack of nurture that made him evil. So maybe this Frankenstein’s monster has got himself a few friends and a lovely wife (so he’s feeling pretty nurtured), and instead opts to become a sort of anti-hero. I can buy that. But if they are going to go with this whole shared monster universe, they need to take one direction and stick with it. Are these monsters ruthless or are we humanising them? 

This whole Universal shared monster universe could be really great, and just like any film, it depends on the execution. From the 15 minutes of Dracula Untold that I watched, the tone of the film was ‘dark and gritty’ (but I have to say even though I didn’t watch the film, Dracula’s suit was super awesome), so will this tone flow on to the other films as well? I worry that these movies won’t turn out as cohesive as Universal wants it to be.

universal shared monster universe

(Credit: @alex_cerrato)

But this whole situation with Dracula Untold, is in a way similar to Man of Steel. Initially when they started making Man of Steel, producers and the people at WB insisted Man of Steel was going to be like The Dark Knight trilogy, just in it’s own little world, that’s all. Next thing you know it becomes the launching pad for the entire DC universe. All they had to do was chuck in a Wayne Enterprise logo and then bam you’re own your way to hinting at a larger universe. And that is essentially what Dracula Untold did. Initially it wasn’t going to be part of the larger Universal monster shared universe, but plans change, a reshoot was done, and now it has become the launching pad for the larger universe.

I guess we have to wait and see these individual films, to see how they will all eventually team-up. Just that whole comment of ‘action-adventure’ is getting me worried. Don’t make this into something it’s not. They’re not superheroes, they’re monsters, so stick to those roots and we could have a pretty awesome Universal shared monster universe.

So what do you think? Are you interested in the Universal shared monster universe? Let me know!

2 replies »

  1. Their shared monster universe did well in the 30’s partly because the monsters were actually monsters. From everything I’ve heard about Dracula Untold it’s mediocre at best. I’m kind of into vampires (I’m writing a series I hope to get published), so it’s kind of telling I never watched it out of disinterest. it’s a shame too, because a Dracula origin story could be fascinating, and so could a story about the real life Vlad the Impaler. And sure Dracula Untold made money, but with a budget of $70 million it’s not that impressive of an accomplishment.

    Now if they make a Frankenstein movie that’s faithful to the book and done well – that I would like to see.

    I’ll keep my eye on this shared monster universe, but if Dracula Untold is anything to go by, I won’t get my hopes up yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh good luck with your series! I would love if they made a Frankenstein novel faithful to the book, it would be so much better than these modern reboots they’re doing. I’m with you, I am interested in what they are doing with this universe, but I’m not too hopeful, depends on how The Mummy reboot goes

      Liked by 1 person

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