For several years now, Universal has been working hard to assemble a shared universe property based on their lineup of classic movie monsters. And after a couple false starts (2010's The Wolfman, Dracula Untold), the studio has officially announced a slate of films for their Monster Cinematic Universe - starting with a reboot of The Mummy in 2017.
The past few weeks has seen news surrounding The Mummy pick up steam, first with the announcement that the film would feature a female Mummy played by Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), and followed by landing Tom Cruise as its lead. Alex Kurtzman - who, along with Fast & Furious movies’ screenwriter Chris Morgan, is overseeing this shared universe - is directing the film from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts (co-writer of Prometheus and the upcoming Doctor Strange).
Like Universal's previous Mummy reboot, this film is expected to fall more on the side of action-adventure than suspenseful horror, with Cruise playing a former soldier (possibly an ex-Navy SEAL) forced to do battle with Boutella's monster. More importantly, it's serving as the launchpad for Universal's monster-verse, which will tie together the respective stories and worlds of all their monsters. And to do this there will need to be other characters introduced from across the Universal Monsters catalogue who can open of this vast universe.
The first of these shared universe characters will be Dr. Jekyll as played by Russell Crowe. This had been previously rumored, but the actor has now confirmed his involvement via Twitter:
Yes...Dr. Henry Jekyll M.D, D.C.L, L.L.D, F.R.S etc... at your service
— Russell Crowe (@russellcrowe) May 6, 2016
Crowe only refers to himself as Dr. Jekyll (followed by a litany of abbreviations, which stand for Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Civil Law, Doctor of Laws, and Fellow of the Royal Society, if you're wondering) but it wouldn't be much of a monster-verse without Jekyll's uglier half, Mr. Hyde. The earlier rumor suggested he would take on both roles and that the character would be expected to appear across others of the shared universe's films.
Currently, Universal has announced five other monster franchise films - Dracula, Van Helsing, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, and The Mummy. Clearly Jekyll/Hyde isn't a starring monster, but given the character's inherent duality he can easily serve both sides - the monsters and the monster hunters. In fact, it may be that Crowe will only appear as the more sedate Dr. Jekyll in The Mummy, allowing him to be an established character before he transforms into Mr. Hyde.
Then again, perhaps Jekyll will already be struggling with his other half by the time he's introduced in The Mummy, giving him a unique perspective on the film's titular monster, who is typically portrayed as more of a tortured soul than outright villain. Either way, casting Crowe as a man struggling to control an inner rage is an inspired choice given the actor's off screen reputation as a bit of a hothead. Hopefully it'll prove an opportunity for him and audiences to have a bit of fun with that perception.
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.
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