With Marvel and DC comic book characters spread out across four movie studios - Marvel Studios, Sony, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. - and 40 planned superhero releases over the next six years, Paramount and Universal Pictures have had to make due without caped crusaders and mechanized suits. Paramount has the ongoing Transformers franchise, while Universal has Fast and Furious, which will be continuing for another three installments after Furious 7’s release next spring.
Adding to those properties, Universal also recently launched a shared universe with Dracula Untold that will bring classic movie monsters like The Mummy, The Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s monster into a modern world. The Monster-verse, which has Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan (Fast and Furious 6) as its architects, may feature many horror movie staples, but these reboots won’t fall into that genre. In an ‘Executive Roundtable’ hosted by THR featuring the heads of multiple studios, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley said their monster movie shared universe will fall into the action-adventure genre rather than horror. In order to compete with other studios’ shared universes, Langley referenced previous Universal monster films that were unsuccessful and said they decided to reinvent the characters in a new context and genre.
Read Langley’s full quote:
“We have to mine our resources. We don't have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We've tried over the years to make monster movies — unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.”
When Universal first announced their cinematic universe that would include reimagined versions of classic movie monsters, it was likened to other shared universes - most notably, of course, was that of Marvel Studios. Now, removing the monsters from their horror genre, and placing them in action-adventure (a realm also populated by superheroes) strengthens the comparisons between Universal’s Monster-verse and the MCU.
However, these are just the broad strokes of both cinematic universes. As Marvel Studios has shown with its 2014 releases, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, even superhero films can venture into other genres in addition to action-adventure. As Marvel moves away from strict action-adventure storytelling, it leaves room for Universal to step in with its reinvented monsters.
That being said, Universal has only released its first installment in its cinematic universe - which was not particularly successful - and viewers will have a better understanding of the Monster-verse once Kurtzman’s The Mummy debuts in 2016.
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Do you like the sound of these Universal monster movie reboots not being horror movies? Let us know in the comments.
The Mummy opens in U.S. theaters on June 24th, 2016, followed by an Untitled Universal Monster Franchise Film on April 21st, 2017.