The Universal Monster Franchise Films are gradually coming together, with writer/producers Chris Morgan (Fast & Furious) and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek Into Darkness) overseeing the shared universe. Filming for the 2017 launch movie The Mummy, starring Sofia Boutella and Tom Cruise, is well underway in London. Ongoing projects vying for the 2018 and 2019 release dates include Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man.
Another classic character set for a reboot is Van Helsing. The vampire hunter was last seen on the big screen in 2004, in a Hugh Jackman-led action/horror movie that met with less-than-enthusiastic reviews. Now writers Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange) and Eric Heisserer (The Thing) will attempt to revive Van Helsing in a way that they hope will resonate with modern audiences.
While there isn’t a lot of information on the new film yet, Heisserer did reveal a couple of things about the titular character in a recent interview with HitFix. Unlike Universal’s The Mummy, or SyFy’s upcoming Vanessa Helsing drama, the Van Helsing reboot won’t be doing a gender swap. The writers actually had a very particular male character in mind as they were working. As Heisserer explains it, “Early on, our inspiration for his behavior and his mannerisms was all in Mad Max.”
It’s not difficult to see how George Miller’s dystopian hero, a strong man of few words and with deadly survival instincts, could serve as inspiration for a vampire hunter. The “early on” caveat in the above statement does hint that the character’s construction may have evolved since that initial inspiration. A lot depends on the overall tone of the movie, which Heisserer stressed could vary from film to film in the shared monster universe.
“One may be a little bit more comedic, action-adventure-y, one can be very much a traditional horror piece. That kind of thing. And then we’ll see what happens as the projects evolve and we all get a chance to convene and talk, and make sure the movies feel like they’re all in the same world.”
One of the ways those movies will connect is by sharing characters, but also by showing monsters in a different light. As producer Morgan stated last year, the hope with this new shared universe is to explore characters who have turned “a curse into empowerment.” Since Van Helsing will focus on the monster hunter, it remains to be seen how much of the vampires’ point of view we’ll get (and if they’ll find a way to tie in 2014’s Dracula Untold). With Mad Max as a guide, Heisserer and Spaihts could delve into the difficulties of holding on to one’s humanity and sanity when confronted with — and committing — unspeakable horrors and violence.
The Mummy will open in U.S. theaters on June 9th, 2017, followed by Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Films on April 13th, 2018 and February 15th, 2019.