Charlie’s Angels director Elizabeth Banks will both direct and star in The Invisible Woman for Universal. Originally, classic Universal character The Invisible Man was set to be a part of the studio’s ambitious Dark Universe, but those plans fell by the wayside after the franchise-launcher The Mummy tanked at the box office.
With the shared universe concept off the table for Universal, the studio later elected to go ahead with a one-off Invisible Man film directed by Leigh Wannell and starring Elisabeth Moss. This take on The Invisible Man puts a major twist on the original story by focusing on Moss’ non-invisible character, who finds herself being stalked by the titular monster. The original Invisible Man, an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ novel, starred Claude Rains as a scientist who gave himself the power of invisibility and went mad as a result. That film was followed up in 1940 by The Invisible Woman, which starred Virginia Bruce as a model becoming invisible after volunteering to be a test subject for a scientist.
With Universal casting about for unique takes on its classic characters, the studio reportedly has tapped Banks to both star in and helm a new version of The Invisible Woman (via THR). Erin Cressida Wilson (The Girl on the Train) reportedly penned the most recent draft of the script for the planned movie. The story is described as a cross between Thelma & Louise and American Psycho and, importantly, has nothing to do with the Wannell/Moss Invisible Man.
In addition to the Invisible Man and Invisible Woman, Universal has reportedly launched development on the Dexter Fletcher directed Renfield, based on Count Dracula’s famous partner in crime, plus Dark Army from director Paul Feig. These movies are all expected to exist independently, with no cross-over stories as originally planned under the Dark Universe concept.
Banks of course rose to fame as an actress in everything from the series Scrubs to movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Hunger Games and Zack and Miri Make a Porno. In 2015 she made her non-anthology feature film directorial debut with the musical Pitch Perfect 2, and in 2019 she brought Charlie’s Angels back to the screen with Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska in the lead roles. Unfortunately, the movie failed to scare up any business at the box office, limping to just $43.9 million in worldwide grosses thus far.
After the box office failure of Sony’s Charlie’s Angels, it’s certainly good to see Universal giving Banks a chance to come in and direct a genre film with significant box office potential (many of course complain that non-white-male filmmakers seldom get chances to rebound after flops). Both The Invisible Man, with its stalking theme, and The Invisible Woman with its apparent feminist angle a la Thelma & Louise wedded to the craziness of American Psycho sound like promising one-off projects that should satisfy classic horror fans while putting interesting new spins on old characters.