That Was Just The Start
The Dark Universe began in 2014 with Dracula: Untold, and then disappeared again until 2017’s The Mummy directed by Alex Kurtzman, who was also set to helm the universe.
Both these movies bombed and Kurtzman departed The Mummy franchise, leaving the Dark Universe up in the air.
Since then, we’ve only had one film in the Dark Universe, The Invisible Man. The film has garnered generally positive reviews, and now, there seems to be more hope that the shared universe will now finally take off.
Here’s everything we know about the Dark Universe.
The Dark Universe: Where Are We Now?
February 2020 has seen the first film in the thrice-rebooted Dark Universe, The Invisible Man. It stars Elisabeth Moss as Cecilia, a woman being tormented by her ex – who is supposedly dead.
The film is a metaphor for domestic violence, in particular, the manipulation of one partner by the other known as gaslighting. As Cecilia describes it:
“This is what he does. He makes me feel like the crazy one.”
Unlike the previous attempts to start the Dark Universe, The Invisible Man is doing well both at the box office and with critics. The movie is on target to make $30 million in its opening weekend on a $7 million budget.
The Dark Universe: What Is It?
The original plan for the Dark Universe was for its films to be linked via the Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to hunting supernatural threats (think SHIELD), run by none other than Doctor Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe).
That’s not happening anymore. Instead, Universal is moving away from a linked universe to a more tangentially-connected universe.
This is a move similar to Warner Bros’ recent shift away from a connected Worlds of DC. Joker, for example, is part of the Worlds of DC but doesn’t have any plot, character or world links to the rest of the DC movies.
Warner Bros’ other successful outing, Shazam!, is more connected plot-wise to the Worlds of DC but did not feature a single cameo of another DC movie character. This has proved fruitful for WB, and it looks like Universal has taken a page from its book.
Likewise, The Invisible Man’s director told CinemaBlend –
“At no stage did someone call me and say ‘oh hey, by the way, we’d love it if we could have a cameo from Dr Jekyll in the movie’ or ‘we’d love if you could come in and look at some of our plans’. It was only ever treated by Universal as a standalone film.”
So, the future of the Dark Universe looks like it will be several standalone films. What’s coming up after The Invisible Man?
The Dark Universe: What Comes Next?
Supposedly still in the works is Dark Army to be directed by Paul Feig (yes, of Last Christmas!) which is sort of the Avengers of the Dark Universe. According to Universal president Peter Cramer (via New York Times) –
“It’s hard to describe the tone of [Dark Army]”
Deadline reported that –
“The project will include characters from Universal’s classic monster library and original characters created by Feig”.
The Invisible Woman
Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels) will direct and star in The Invisible Woman – no relation to the aforementioned Invisible Man. The screenplay comes from Erin Cressida Wilson (The Girl On The Train).
Dexter Fletcher (Rocketman) is set to direct Renfield, about a minor character in the legend of Dracula. In it, he’s the count’s henchman but he also eats spiders…? So that’s a thing. Cramer described him as –
“The guy who has to work for Dracula, which is the worst job ever.”
There’s not a lot of information about it available, and Cramer only said –
“There’s a cool filmmaker involved, but it’s a little early to talk too much about that.”
However, there were previous rumours that James Wan could be involved with Frankenstein, but we have no confirmation of that as of yet.
The Invisible Man is now playing in cinemas.