So after their last two pretty fantastically failed attempts at a shared universe of classic movie monsters, Universal might have learned something… might.
That’s right, Universal has postponed the next in their line of “Dark Universe” films, The Bride of Frankenstein. Ever since that famous post-credits scene at the end of IronMan, the idea of a shared movie universe has been everywhere. The Avengers solidified this, and now there are copycats all over the industry. Unfortunately, the only other one that appears to be doing more or less fine is another superhero franchise, just from the other side of the pond. And even that was off to a rocky start.
The Legendary Pictures Monster-verse is going decently, overall. But the task of bringing Godzilla and King Kong together in one film isn’t as daunting a task. They’re a pair of giant monsters. It isn’t like it’d be the most complex thing in the world. However much character either of them has, there isn’t generally a lot of nuance to them. By contrast, the Universal movie monsters are actually fairly deep and nuanced character studies in some sense. Yet the stories do ultimately boil down to very basic core ideas that are ripe for exploration. It really shouldn’t be difficult to make these movies work, and yet Universal keeps finding ways to screw it up.
After their most recent flop, The Mummy, it makes sense that they’re approaching their next film with a little more caution. They’ve postponed the film because they wanted to revise the script, feeling uncomfortable with what they had. Presumably, the script existed in some form during the development of The Mummy. So after seeing the performance of that movie, and receiving the criticisms from it, it’s entirely possible that they’re adjusting to fix problems that carried over.
The primary criticism of the failed cinematic universes, be they Sony’s ramshackle attempt at one for The Amazing Spider-Man, or Universal’s current effort, is that they aren’t good standalone movies. By that, I mean that they focus so much on leaving threads to connect the universe, that they don’t try to be their own film. Love it or hate it, Man of Steel was a standalone movie. Any references to other things were Easter-Eggs. The first phase of Marvel movies were standalone movies that happened to share some neat things across them all. And hiding those little clues made the experience fun. Fans were constantly breaking movies down by the scene to see if they could find anything they missed before.
That was The Mummy’s biggest crime. It wasn’t a strong enough movie in its own right. They made it far more obvious than it should have been that everything was supposed to be connected. There were no Easter-Eggs. But the other crime of this, and of the stealthy first attempt at initiating this universe, Dracula Untold, is that Universal has a unique problem with wanting their movies to be “The Avengers, but with monsters.” They have something that could be incredibly unique and vastly entertaining. But no. Instead, they basically turned Dracula and The Mummy (kind of) into super… heroes(?). One can only imagine how they intend to interpret the Bride of Frankenstein.
Still, it’s easy to be negative when their track record has been so spotty. Yet there are worse ideas than a team of monster-based superheroes. In fact, DC had an entire super team based around the idea at one point. It’s an idea that does have merit in its own right. So even if they do essentially make the queen of the monsters a superhero, at the very least the movie could be entertaining. They just need to go about it in a less hamfisted, sloppy way. It could very genuinely be a lot of fun. However much we appreciate the classic movie monsters, looking back they are rather silly and dated. Not in a bad way, mind you. But they show their age. And Universal could embrace that sensation to create a movie that really does exist in the realm of dumb fun.
Univeral is planning future Dark Universe films for The Invisible Man, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Van Helsing, and The Wolfman. The Bride of Frankenstein, starring Javier Bardem and Angelina Jolie was set to release on February 14, 2019. However, given this postponement, that is no longer correct. The new release date for the film has yet to be announced.