In a new interview, executive producer and creative architect Chris Morgan reveals more of the Universal Monsters Universe plan.
With The Mummy release date growing closer each day, fans are starting to learn more of the plan Universal has for their classic monsters properties. With the Universal Monsters Universe in development for some time, there’s still much of it that is a mystery. While we’ve understood elements of the connected nature of these upcoming films, with Dr. Jekyll and his organization Prodigium providing the connective thread for each movie, that’s more or less all we know. While The Mummy will undoubtedly answer more of our lingering questions, creative architect and executive producer Chris Morgan has spoken more about the Universal Monsters Universe of films.
While speaking with Collider, Chris Morgan revealed that the Universal Monsters Universe will consist more of standalone films as opposed to several movies that heavily lean in to one another, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe. Seeking to redevelop and reintroduce the Universal Monsters to modern audiences, most of the upcoming films are expected to be set in the modern world, much like Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy and the original classic monsters films. However, the dream of seeing a period Universal Monsters movie isn’t entirely off the table. “The studio is mostly interested in just doing good films. They would like them generally to be more contemporary I think, just to reflect a modern sensibility and a modern take on the monsters. The Mummy is one of the first modern day—for Universal anyway—Mummy films; all the others are period. But there are no rules, so if there is a great period version of these that’s just undeniable, then we’ll absolutely fight for that and go for it.” said Morgan.
Seeking to create the best possible story and movie for each monster, here’s what Chris Morgan had to say:
“We kind of designed them all to be kind of standalone sorts of franchises that have kind of similar things between them. And as the scripts came in, then we started putting them in a, ‘Well this would be a good order. We reveal this here’ so now it really comes down to, again, it’s a studio decision on which film is coming out next. Just with all the films we’re working on, Bride of Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfman, Invisible Man, and on and on and on, it’s a real embarrassment of riches in terms of awesome, fun characters. I always say it this way: I’m in my office right now and I’ve got a Werewolf head mounted on the wall. It’s pretty good to come into your office and—that’s what you’re working with, you’re working with monsters that are 80, almost 100 years old. There’s a real legacy, a real respect, the fact that this studio, I don’t think, would have lasted if it wasn’t for the monsters, it really built up.”
It’s interesting to hear Morgan speak of the scripts, especially after just learning that Will Beall was chosen to write Creature from the Black Lagoon based off of an idea he had for the film. Hearing that the release of the next Universal Monsters Universe film is “a studio decision” may bode well for fans of the Gill-Man of The Wolfman as currently the UMU schedule is up in the air. This fact does hearken back to speculation that the release dates announced for two mystery Universal Monsters films could still be changed. For those expecting a Universal Monster to thrill and chill audiences in April of 2018, sadly, that is looking more and more unlikely. However, for fans of Bride of Frankenstein, including myself, Chris Morgan has pushed this film as a priority in several interviews and with Javier Bardem involved, along with a possibility of Angelina Jolie headlining, it’s looking more and more likely that The Bride will be the next monster to appear on the big screen.
Chris Morgan, understanding the necessity for story to be favored first, spoke more about the nature and spirit of the Universal Monsters films:
“I think why people will love these monster films is the they are an homage to the originals, which means you’re gonna get complex characters. And the thing that I think is interesting about monsters is that they are always exaggerations of human attributes or human fears. For example, Frankenstein was a result of the kind of industrial and scientific revolution—are we playing God? Should we be playing God? And with the Wolfman there’s that worry of what happens if I lose control? What happens if I hurt the things around me that I love? There’s very human questions and worries and fears and darkness and cravings.”
“We live in a world of superhero movies now—and by the way, I love them and I see them all and I have a great time, but I can’t identify with them as closely as I want to because I know I’ll never be perfect like that. Whereas the monster movies are saying that everybody has darkness in them, everyone has secrets and things they are ashamed of and don’t want to say or something that feels monstrous and dangerous about them. We’re just kind of embracing that and saying, ‘That’s ok.’ The films are just gonna be interesting, emotional, action-y, largely global sorts of films. I think The Mummy trailer sets up, in a really good way, kind of the tone of these films.”
Personally, I could not be more excited for the upcoming Universal Monsters movies. As a lover of the classics (I try to watch one UM film a week), now could not be a better time to reintroduce them to audiences. While I’d love to see this universe come together as quick as Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or even the DC Extended Universe, I’m glad to learn that Universal is taking their time with the classic monsters. While loose attempts were made to revive the monsters in the past with 2010’s The Wolf Man and 2014’s Dracula Untold, I certainly favor time and an effort to pull the best story together as opposed to rushing them. I’m also happy that each monster will be more of a standalone film as opposed to a means of just telling a shared universe story. There are exciting things happening on the Frankenstein front so stay tuned for more on that, along with Bride of Frankenstein.
As always, stay tuned to Universal Monsters Universe for the latest on The Mummy and the Universal Monsters Universe of films.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)