Similar to how Paramount Pictures assembled a group of screenwriters to plot out its Transformers film universe for the next decade (on through to 2025), Universal Pictures has put together its own “writers group” to map out a rebooted version of the Universal Monster movie universe – which, lest we forget, was the original Shared Cinematic Universe in Hollywood (several decades before the Marvel Cinematic Universe popularized the Shared Universe model).
The Mummy is the next brick that’s going to be placed in that wall (in 2017), following the 2014 release of the Dracula origin story/prequel feature film, Dracula Untold. It remains to be seen just how inter-connected these rebooted Universal Monsters movies are going to be (more on that later), though we are now starting to get a clearer picture of how The Mummy in particular may distinguish itself from its predecessors.
Alex Kurtzman, whose previous screenwriting credits include Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is calling the shots on The Mummy, based on a script by Jon Spaihts – who also penned the Alien: Engineers script that eventually gave rise to Prometheus. It’s been reported for a while now that Kurtzman’s The Mummy reboot will take place in modern times, but a report from THR also claims that the Mummy’s gender has yet to be settled on – with two alternate narrative options in place, so that Kurtzman and his collaborators can decide if they want to make the eponymous monster female or male.
Both director Karl Freund’s The Mummy (1932) and director Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy (1999) revolve around the ancient Egyptian priest Imhotep, who is inadvertently revived in the film’s present as a mummy and sets out to find a way to reunite with his long lost love (Ankh-es-en-amon and Anck-su-Namun, in turn). It is expected that Kurtzman’s The Mummy will portray its namesake as being a similarly tragic monster – though also one that’s closer to a dark superhero, a la Luke Evans’ Vlad from Dracula Untold – and there’s no reason that a gender-swap for the Mummy and (presumably) their lost love couldn’t give rise to an equally sympathetic creature.
A gender-swapped Mummy could also open the door to new storytelling possibilities – something that Kurtzman also feels the modern-day setting will allow for, when he was interviewed by /Film about the matter:
“Absolutely, 100%. The minute it’s modern day, the rules change. And yet, what’s really exciting for me is how do you take this ancient creature and make an audience believe that they exist in modern day?”
It’s worth noting that while THR‘s report on The Mummy re-affirms that the plan is for these upcoming Universal Monsters films to be “interconnected”, Kurtzman played down the idea a little during his /Film interview – having told the site that “The Mummy isn’t connected to Dracula [Untold] but I think that is an ongoing conversation.” Dracula Untold reportedly under-went reshoots to better set up for a revived Shared Monsters Universe, so it could be that Kurtzman and Universal have a concrete plan, but aren’t ready to discuss it with the public just yet.
Then again, between the latest update regarding The Mummy’s gender and the fact that Universal has yet to officially announce its 2018 Monster film release, it appears that this “universe” is very much a work in progress right now. However, with key casting decisions due to be made over the forthcoming months before The Mummy starts production (no later than Spring 2016), additional information will be available sooner than later.
The Mummy opens in U.S. theaters on March 24th, 2017, followed by a currently-untitled Monster Movie on March 20th, 2018.