Culture

'The Mummy' Launches Universal's New Monster Cinematic Universe

The wild success of the Marvel and Star Wars properties have made vast cinematic universes all the rage. Every studio wants one. Many projects aspiring toward that goal exist in various stages of development.

Universal Studios sits atop a potential gold mine in the form of their classic movie monsters. Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy each come with global name recognition and a built-in genre audience. However, each property has also endured lackluster iterations in the recent past.

Remember Dracula Untold or Victor Frankenstein? Neither does anyone else. The 1999 version of The Mummy received mixed reviews and made respectable money, but its sequels declined in both respects toward their ends. The question, therefore, becomes: can these films be done right?

To their credit, Universal has spared no expense in the attempt. Next year’s reintroduction of The Mummy features Tom Cruise in the starring role, alongside genre “it” girl Sofia Boutella as the titular monster. We got a look at the first trailer on Sunday, and it appears to be taking itself seriously.

The trailer focuses on a particular sequence from the film, a supernatural attack on a cargo plane carrying an Egyptian sarcophagus. Tom Cruise plays a civilian of some undisclosed expertise, traveling amidst a military escort with a female companion. The trailer is narrated by Russell Crowe, who plays a new version of Dr. Jekyll (yes, that Dr. Jekyll). The tagline “welcome to a new world of gods and monsters” has been lifted from the old black and white version of The Bride of Frankenstein. Universal isn’t being very subtle here. They want us to know that this is the beginning of a vast new franchise.

Stylistically, the trailer conveys a hybrid of the Mission: Impossible films and the most recent Mummy iteration. Like its predecessors, this mummy appears to be an undead Egyptian personage seeking retribution for ancient spite. Rather than a lumbering, bandaged corpse, we have a ghostly sorceress capable of commanding the elements.

Will this be scary? Is it supposed to be? Will it be fun, or take itself too seriously? Are they going for an Indiana Jones action-adventure vibe like the previous Mummy films, or something more procedural? At this point, we just don’t know. As more trailers and clips drop, we may get more clues as to what Universal is going for and how their other movie monsters will integrate into the whole.

Watch the trailer on the next page.