So Universal is going forward with their plans of making a Cinematic Universe for their once classic movie monsters. And, apparently, they aren't even going to try to make them into horror films, instead opting for "action-adventure," perhaps taking a cue from the recent Dracula Untold (which did make a total of over $203 million worldwide on a budget of $70 million, although domestically it didn't do as good).
If we add up all the Universal monsters (actual monsters, not just human killers), however, we get a somewhat short list:
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
- Frankenstein's monster (and the Bride, if we can count her, too)
- The Mummy
- The Invisible Man
- The Wolf Man
- Creature from the Black Lagoon
It certainly seems enough for a Cinematic Universe, but how do you tie in all those diverse elements together and make it all work? Here are some suggestions:
1. Use more obscure characters. There have been numerous adaptations of Frankenstein and numerous actors playing both Victor Frankenstein (and Victoria Frankenstein) and the Monster. However, I haven't seen one another actor even portray Dr Septimus Pretorius, one of the main villains from Bride of Frankenstein. While Dr. Frankenstein may be the originator of modern "Mad Scientist" trope, it was Dr. Pretorius who perfected it with his dark humor. Use more obscure characters like him or the Man Made Monster.
2. Remake old monster movies that had never been remade. Like the last point on the list, there are plenty of remakes of Frankenstein and Dracula. Heck, there was even a remake of The Wolf Man in 2010, but nobody has ever remade movies like The Mad Ghoul, Captive Wild Woman, or any of the numerous Edgar Allen Poe adaptations (the closest has been 2012's The Raven). Probably part of this is due to the fact that those old movies were often cheesy in retrospect and employed science that audiences nowadays would never believe — but that shouldn't stop Universal from trying to adapt them into the modern day and updating them for today's audiences.
3. Have something subtle that ties the movies together. Aside from Iron Man and Iron Man 2, the first phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was pretty separate from one another up until The Avengers. But they did find a way to tie them all together - sometimes with cameos (Tony Stark showing up for a minute in The Incredible Hulk) or sometimes with an organizations (S.H.I.E.L.D. which shows up in every phase one movie except for Incredible Hulk). The same thing can be employed for the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe. Here are some suggestions for things that can tie the movies together:
- The Harker Group: a group dedicated to finding and eliminating vampires, werewolves, et cetera.
- The M. Waldman Society for Scientific Advancement: a think tank dedicated to the advancement of science at any cost.
- The Thousand Faces: a mysterious person who can disguise himself as other people, often showing up to steal some bit of information before disappearing.
So there we go. Some suggestions for making the Universal Monsters Cinematic Universe.