Here's what's going on with all of Universal's monsters

Rosie Fletcher
Photo credit: Universal

From Digital Spy

Universal studios has been building up to its own MCU-style shared Universe for a while - it was to be called The Dark Universe.

The Dark Universe will began with The Mummy, and was slated to continue with movies featuring a menagerie of creatures from the classic Universal slate.

The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman was due to oversee it - though he recently announced he'd be departing the franchise, leave the future of The Dark Universe up in the air.

But is there hope for the universe yet?

Here's our handy explainer bringing you everything you need to about what may yet come to pass in the wider world of the Universal monsters.

The Dark Universe: Universal Monsters and where it all began

Photo credit: Universal

Back in the early(ish) days of cinema, from the '20s to the '50s, Universal studios released a rash of monster movies. These started with early silents including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera and continued with the "talkies" like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride Of Frankenstein, The Wolfman and Creature from the Black Lagoon as well as numerous sequels and spin-offs.

It also included some less-well-known titles such as Weird Woman, The Frozen Ghost, Pillow Of Death and The Mole People (we can but hope The Dark Universe taps into some of these gems).

Universal mainstays included actors Lon Chaney, Lon Chaney Jr, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff – it's considered part of a golden age of the creature feature, many of which have been remade since.

The Dark Universe: The Mummy and what's next

Photo credit: Universal

Though Universal released Dracula Untold in 2014, originally planning it as the first film in the Universal monsters reboot, it was critically mauled. So they've now started again. The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella and directed by Alex Kurztman will now be the first title officially in the Dark Universe.

Tom Cruise plays our hero Nick Morton, who looks from the trailers like he may have been possessed by the spirit of The Mummy (Boutella), or some similar ancient evil.

The official synopsis of The Mummy is this:

"Thought safely entombed in a crypt deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient queen (Sofia Boutella of Kingsman: The Secret Service and Star Trek Beyond) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her, is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

"From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, The Mummy brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters."

So there's that.

The Dark Universe: Prodigium and how the films link together.

The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman was set to produce and oversee the slated Dark Universe movies along with Chris Morgan though they have both now departed leaving the whole thing in limbo.

However, the original plans were that the Universe would be linked by an organisation called Prodigium, run by none other than Doctor Henry Jeykll (Russell Crowe)

Prodigium is a research facility based in the Natural History Museum, set up specifically to identify and destroy "evil". Prodigium would have been a through-line throughout the Dark Universe, with Jekyll acting as something like the equivalent of SHIELD's Nick Fury.

Photo credit: Universal

Only of course, as we know Jekyll is also sometimes the rather less savoury Mr Hyde – we've had a tiny glimpse of his monstrous side in an early clip. It takes a monster to catch a monster, he mentions...

The Dark Universal: Bride of Frankenstein and what comes next?

With the announcement of the Dark Universe, Universal also firmed up their plan for a follow up. The initial idea was Bride of Frankenstein, directed by Beauty and The Beast man Bill Condon and starring Javier Bardem as Frankenstein's monster.

But now the studio has done a u-turn, announcing that this production would be postponed.

A statement released by Universal reads: "After thoughtful consideration, Universal Pictures and director Bill Condon have decided to postpone Bride of Frankenstein.

"None of us want to move too quickly to meet a release date when we know this special movie needs more time to come together. Bill is a director whose enormous talent has been proven time and again, and we all look forward to continuing to work on this film together."

Could this be because Condon recently distanced the film from The Dark Universe?

According to him his movie is "nothing to do with anything else".

"I will tell you this – what I'm doing is 100% making a really good monster movie. It has nothing to do with anything else. Nothing. Zero," he told Collider.

Photo credit: Universal

The original date was February 14, 2019 but that's clearly now not going to be met.

And what of the cast? Javier Bardem was signed on to play the monster, with Angelina Jolie as The Bride, though there's every chance the movie will recast if the postponement is for long.

The Dark Universe: Invisible Man, Wolf Man and all the films currently slated

Universal currently had four more films officially planned, though their status is now very much up in the air.

Photo credit: Universal

These were:

The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Currently listed for 2019, it's without a director or cast but it does have a writer in Will Beall who wrote the script for Aquaman – he clearly has an affinity with the aquatic. The story follows a prehistorical creature unearthed in a... well, a black lagoon deep in the Amazon.

The Invisible Man

Johnny Depp is signed on to star in this movie set for 2020. The original was based on the HG Wells story of the same name about scientist Doctor Griffin (Depp) who developed a formula to make himself invisible which he is then unable to reverse.

Photo credit: Fred Duval/FilmMagic / Getty Images

In the novel he's a psychopath before he even experiments on himself – this could well take a dark turn.

Van Helsing

Introduced in Bram Stoker's Dracula novel, Van Helsing was a Dutch Doctor who became the Vampire overlord's arch enemy. This could be Universal's chance to re-introduce Dracula to the Dark Universe, though in other adaps (including the one starring Hugh Jackman – above) Van Helsing has been know to fight other monsters including the Wolfman and Mr Hyde himself.

Could this be the film for Hyde to hand over control of Prodigium? It's WAY too early to tell – the movie's not yet dated. Dan Mazeau, who wrote Wrath of the Titans, is on screenplay duties.

The Wolfman

Also as yet undated is Universal's werewolf mainstay, most recently brought to the big screen in 2010 starring Benecio Del Toro. Aaron Guzikowski, who wrote 2013's Prisoners, is working on the screenplay – no cast or director are currently attached.

Watching this space for more on the Dark Universe coming soon.

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