Following the online launch of the first trailer for “The Mummy” reboot last night, quotes from the film’s director Alex Kurtzman have gone online about the Tom Cruise-led movie that explain some more about his intentions for the project.
The film is famously the first Universal’s planned shared universe featuring its monsters including the likes of The Invisible Man (Johnny Depp), Frankenstein (Javier Bardem) and more. At one time there was talk that “Dracula Untold” might serve that function, and a coda was built into it just for that possibility, but Kurtzman clarified that ‘Untold’ has no involvement in this universe.
Of course the last time Kurtzman tried to setup a bigger cinematic universe it didn’t work out so well – Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2 “. That film was heavily criticised for planning so much for future films that they forgot to make the current one any good. He tells Heat Vision he’s learned from that, and with this the key is getting each entry right:
“It’s not so much building a universe. It’s ‘Make a great Mummy movie.’ Now, if in the context of making a great Mummy movie, you can plant the seeds for something else, fantastic. But the only way you can get there, is if those seeds can be planted organically and if can be part of The Mummy story, first and foremost.”
In fact despite the talks of a linked universe, don’t expect an eventual “Avengers”-style team-up movie is a guarantee even if the individual films are a success:
“There has to be some kind of unifying reason if you’re going to do something like that. By the way, maybe they don’t come together in one movie. We aren’t necessarily going to do The Avengers.
There might be reasons for this character and that character to come together because of storytelling, because that’s what the story wants. The story is what drives the choices. If down the line there’s a big reason to bring them together, great. But I promise you, we are not starting there.
You will come to understand is the Mummy exists in a continuum of monsters and have been around for potentially longer than we have. Part of why we wanted to start with The Mummy was she was one of oldest ones. She’s 5,000 years old.”
One key linking element will be Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll who effectively serves as the Nick Fury of this group – tying things together as his organization Prodigium is responsible for tracking the monsters:
“We wanted to understand the context of the Mummy in the larger world and we wanted to know that monsters had existed for millennium, and we knew as the story evolved, we wanted there to be an organization who had been cataloging them and been following them. We said, ‘Well, we could make up a character who is going to be the voice or we could look to monster mythology and say, ‘Is there a character who could organically fit into the story, that wouldn’t detract from the Mummy story, but would in fact enhance it?'”
Kurtzman confirmed that as one of the architects of this new initiative, they’re already designed new looks for the various monsters which will be fairly faithful to the classic designs:
“Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Hunchback, Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll, The Mummy. I can go on and on. Wolfman. Universal owns the rights to [Frankenstein]’s bolts-in-the-neck, flat-top head, green face. So now you take all that away, and I’d say, “But it’s still Frankenstein”, you’re going to go, “No, it’s not.” And if you ask a four-year old child to draw Frankenstein for you, they’re going to draw bolts in the neck, flat-top head and green face. It is culturally embedded. That is the world we live in, it’s not going away.”
One challenge to overcome with “The Mummy” was to include tension in a Tom Cruise movie as, after all, his characters always win in the end. That may not be the case this time – especially as his character will be cursed and under the Mummy’s control at points:
“I’ve got thirty years of ‘Tom Cruise is Going to Save the Day’ in my understanding of the Tom Cruise movie/ That’s just what I’m going to come to the theater with. Because he always saves the day. And when he said he wanted to do the movie, I couldn’t have been happier. But I quickly realized that the challenge of doing it was going to be a way to remove that from my thinking as an audience member.
What really needed to happen was I needed to go, ‘Oh sh-t, he really can’t save the day. He might not save the day.’ And how do we do that? Because the mummy is in your head. And the mummy is making you do things you don’t want to do. And now you’re cursed. And you don’t know what’s going on. You’ve suddenly made a very unreliable protagonist who is dangerous, in a way. And the minute you do that, all bets are off.”
“The Mummy” also stars Courtney B. Vance, Annabelle Wallis and Jake Johnson and opens in cinemas on June 9th 2017.