The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman has reflected on the somewhat ‘painful’ experience of making the movie. While most studios scoffed at Marvel’s plan to launch a shared cinematic universe with 2008’s Iron Man, the box office results of the venture soon silenced the critics. This naturally led studios to develop their own shared universes, with varying degrees of success. DC’s universe has hit rocky patches along the way like the underperformance of Justice League, but it seems to be righting itself with the success of Aquaman and a promising slate of upcoming movies.
Warner Bros. is also doing well with their MonsterVerse, but there have been several high-profile non-starters like King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword and The Amazing Spider-Man. The same goes for the Dark Universe, which was Universal’s attempt to build an action franchise around iconic monsters like Dracula and The Invisible Man. The planned series kicked off with The Mummy, which starred Tom Cruise as a soldier who accidentally awakens an evil princess. The film received almost universally negative reviews and underperformed financially, and there’s currently no sign of the Dark Universe continuing.
Criticisms of The Mummy included Cruise feeling miscast in the lead role, the film’s weak attempts at comedy and lackluster set pieces. Now director Alex Kurtzman has reflected on the response to the film in a new conversation with THR, stating it didn't turn out the way he intended and confirming he’s no longer involved with the Dark Universe.
The Mummy wasn't what I wanted it to be. I'm no longer involved in that and have no idea what's going on with it. I look back on it now [and] what felt painful at the time ended up being an incredible blessing for me. I learned that I need to follow my own instincts, and when I can't fully do that, I don't think I can succeed. Those films are beautiful because the monsters are broken characters, and we see ourselves in them. I hope those are the movies that they make; I want to see them.
Reports at the time suggested Tom Cruise exerted so much control over production on The Mummy he essentially ghost directed the movie, which may be part of the reason Kurtzman was unhappy with the final product. The Mummy sadly fell victim to Universal’s desire to push it as the start of a new shared universe, rather than focusing on making a solid movie first. The film was an awkward mishmash of ideas that never really seemed to know what genre it was aiming for, and despite laying seeds for further movies, Universal quickly realized there was little audience appetite for one.
It’s nice to see Kurtzman can at least be honest about the response to The Mummy, and he’s since moved on to oversee the expanding Star Trek TV universe, including a spinoff focusing on Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard. Bride Of Frankenstein and an Invisible Man movie starring Johnny Depp were set to follow The Mummy, but little has been heard about those projects in the last year. There’s still a chance Universal might retool the concept and try again, but there’s currently no sign of movement on the would-be franchise.