Universal is currently in the process of reviving and updating all of their classic movie monsters, starting with The Mummy, in the hopes of developing a shared universe. The first trailer for Tom Cruise's The Mummy debuted last night, and it will be the first movie in this saga. Until the release of this sneak peek, there had been speculation and rumors that Luke Evans' Dracula Untold will also be included. But that idea has been put to bed completely.
Director Alex Kurtzman recently attended a press event for the release of the first Mummy trailer and he was asked point blank about Dracula Untold being a part of this new universe. As ScreenRant tells it, he very simply said "no." A couple of months ago we reported that Luke Evans had some conversations about potentially reprising his role as Dracula in this new universe and he seemed quite open to it. Here is what he had to say during an interview with Latino Review.
"There have been talks and conversations. I think the bigger picture is exciting for all the monsters that they own. There is talk about it. I just don't know how it will all manifest itself. I think it will happen and I think they're just working out how these monsters interact and how they end up in the same realm with each other. If they can stick Captain America in a scene with Iron Man and Thor, I think you can definitely put Wolf Man, the Invisible Man, The Mummy and Dracula in the same film as well."
At the end of Dracula Untold, there was a little bit that would have allowed for Luke Evans' Dracula to interact with other monsters in the present day, but Alex Kurtzman made it clear that was a false start at best. It will be his new take on The Mummy that truly kicks off this new cinematic universe. However, he did expand on his thoughts on this new universe a bit during the press conference, saying that he doesn't want to weigh down his movie with a bunch of setup. He simply wants to make a good movie with characters people like. Here is what he had to say.
"I believe strongly that the only way you can build a universe is not to start by trying to build a universe. If you want to get there, the only way you're going to get there is if the audience allows you to get there. Meaning, you have to do great individual films first. The audience has to fall in love with those movies first, and those characters first, and if they do and you develop an organic story reason to start bringing them together, great! But you can't start with 'Let's just mash everybody together'...In order for you to enjoy The Mummy, you have to have a satisfying mummy experience. If we are then in that context able to set up a larger world? Great! But the setup of that larger world and whatever characters [star Tom Cruise] may meet over the course of the mummy movie have to be part of the mummy movie. It cannot take you out of that."
Alex Kurtzman seems to understand what made the Marvel Cinematic Universe work so well. Other studios, most notably Warner Bros. with the DC Extended Universe, are trying to cobble together a cinematic universe of their own, but Universal seems to have the right idea. Marvel started with Iron Man, a movie that totally stood on its own and had characters that people really connected with. That allowed them to expand things much more organically. On the flip side, something like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was so concerned with universe building that the movie became a bit of a mess. It sounds like The Mummy will be taking the Iron Man approach.
There are still references to the larger Universal Monsters Universe in The Mummy trailer and it seems like Russel Crowe as Dr. Jekyll will provide some connective tissue. But based on how it was presented in the trailer, it seems to serve the story in a logical and natural way. Dracula is probably destined to join up with Tom Cruise on screen at some point, assuming audiences respond to this first movie, but it won't be Luke Evans playing him. At the moment, universal has also tapped Johnny Depp to play The Invisible Man and Javier Bardem is rumored to star in a new Frankenstein movie as well. The Mummy is set for release on June 9, 2017.