So you may have heard by now, but Universal Studios are trying to rival Marvel. What? How? Do they even have any superheroes or are they just going to make up ones of their own? Well, they're not even going to bother with superheroes. Yeah, this all sounds a bit strange and convoluted but stick with us here, and we'll get to the nub of it all soon enough.
We recently wrote a piece called 'How Superheroes Are Ruining Hollywood!' that basically explains why every film these days is, in one form or another, a superhero movie and we laid the blame squarely at the feet of Marvel because they've managed to create a universe so large and encompassing that everything they do is a guaranteed money spinner and other movie studios want in on the action.
The article also mentions how Sony have a few rights to some of Marvel's heroes and how DC are desperately trying to kickstart their own comic book universe into an interlinking film one as well which means that other movie studios are getting left behind. So how are Universal planning on combatting this? With...err...Monsters.
Now, if you think about it, that doesn't sound too far-fetched as they don't have a comic book arm to pluck ideas from and neither do they know if creating new characters will really be successful and so they've turned to previous Hollywood history and dragged up already established characters in the public consciousness and then thrown a boat load of money at them hoping it will stick. Without superheroes to cling on to, this may be their best bet since Warner Bros have the Harry Potter universe they're going to wring dry, Universal needs something and quick before it is left in the dirt.
So how are they going to do this? Well, they already sort of started it off with some lackluster Dracula reboots with Luke Evans as the vampire in chief but they are hoping people will have forgotten about them by the time they've rebooted the other characters and tried to do some crossover films as they've delved into the archives. It started with a reimaging of the Dracula story in 2014's Dracula Untold, and they will be rebooting The Mummy in 2017. With Dracula on the books, though, they also want to bring in his arch-nemesis Van Helsing and are looking at remaking his title film as well.
But they've also gone all guns blazing for some big name stars in these franchises with Tom Cruise, and Russell Crowe set to appear in the latest The Mummy film and Johnny Depp slated to play the Invisible Man, as for whether Evens will return is yet to be seen but Frankenstein the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Wolf Man are also in for remakes as well.
So can these rival the might of Marvel in terms of a powerhouse of cinema crossover universes? The reasoning behind monsters universe attempt seems to be that 'it worked in the 1930s' when they first created these characters and introduced them to one another with success but them working in the modern age seems a bit more dubious.
Certainly, the fanbases are there, but most of these characters are public property now, and so stories behind them have been so plentiful (and fanciful) down the years, do people really want to see more of them?
Sure, to some degree they've got 'super powers' and their established iconography within pop-culture makes them all instantly recognizable, but part of the joy of the Marvel universe was that, outside of the dedicated comic book fanbase, film viewers were going to watch something about character's they already knew but wanted greater background on. After 80+ years, are we not bored of these monsters yet?
Universal doesn't think so, but in the end, it's not down to them but the movie-going public. What are your thoughts, will they succeed or will these monsters once again be consigned to the dustbin of history? Let us know in the comments below.