Is Annabelle Wallis Playing Van Helsing?
If Tom Cruise isn’t Van Helsing and if we’re going to still theorize that the character’s somewhere in the movie, then the obvious candidate is Annabelle Wallis’ Jenny Halsey. The Tudors actress ostensibly plays Nick’s love interest/Prodigium handler in the film, but there’s the possibility that this is actually a gender-swapped Van Helsing.
The main reason to suspect there’s more to Halsey than meets the eye is how she’s established. Before release, Cruise revealed that she was going to be a key throughline for Dark Universe set to appear in most future movies. The first film leaves off with her integrated properly into Prodigium, suggesting she’ll be Jekyll’s man on the ground.
Now, if Jenny is going to be important, it would be strange for her to be a randomly created new character. There’s something to be said about crafting new icons, but everything about Dark Universe is focused on reimagining the past, and the most fitting role is that of the good Professor. In The Mummy she’s introduced as an archaeologist, but the specifics of her education and her capabilities are kept vague, making it rather easy to slot her into the position.
The gender-swapping element can not be understated either. Star Wars and the DCEU have both recently featured movies with female protagonists that not only broke down the preconceptions about woman-led movies but received massive praise for their steps in representation. Universal monsters are, by nature of being based on at best early 20th Century ideas, predominantly male, but some gender balance is needed. Yes, The Mummy had a female villain and there’s the Bride of Frankenstein, but in terms of overarching (and human) characters, the one most fitting of a gender change is Van Helsing.
The name could even be a little wink towards this. It’s weak sauce by itself, but there are enough structural similarities between Halsey and Helsing to have it potentially be an English variant on the Dutch name, with Jenny’s movie family having come over from print Helsing’s homeland.
The Case Against
Of course, there’s nothing to say this is actually what Universal’s going for. Indeed, if we are going to see Jenny become “Abraham” then there aren’t many clues dropped. The first names are already a knock against the naming side of the theory and The Mummy’s focus on Cruise means we don’t really have an idea how Wallis’ recurring role will work.
The major reason why she wouldn’t be playing Van Helsing, though, is that prior to The Mummy Wallis was a TV actor. One of the defining traits of the Dark Universe so far is that it's built on A-List talent as much as the monsters; as well as Cruise and Crowe, Depp and Bardem are officially signed up and Alex Kurtzman says he’s looking at names like Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence to flesh out the future. This means having a key character – the major good guy in some ways – be a newcomer feel like a rogue step; her casting is more that of an Agent Coulson than a Nick Fury. It's possible she's the daughter (or granddaughter) of the conventional Helsing, although there we're going far too off the beaten track.
If The Mummy has, per early speculation, laid the groundwork for Van Helsing, then that being with Annabelle Wallis is a fair bet. Otherwise, maybe they'll just bring back Hugh Jackman down the line.
- The Mummy (2017) release date: Jun 09, 2017
- Bride of Frankenstein release date: