How to watch ‘The Mummy’ universe movies in order?

The Mummy
Image via Universal

The Mummy is one of the great icons of horror cinema. Opening a pharaoh’s tomb or stepping into the Egyptian section of a museum at night is up there with walking into Castle Dracula or Frankenstein’s laboratory. But, the Mummy of horror cinema is closer to reality than other monsters. While Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Invisible Man all surfaced from books of the 19th century, the Mummy and the accompanying curse emerged from the sands of Egypt to capture a place in popular culture in the early 20th century. 

In 1922, Howard Carter’s discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun created a frenzy. The tomb had remained undisturbed and unplundered for millennia, and the opening of its sealed burial chamber revealed 5,000 objects, including the Pharoah’s ornate golden mask, which triggered an obsession in the West. Ancient Egypt became all the rage as the perceived curse of the mummy took over the headlines, and designs inspired by the period made their mark on swinging 20s fashion.

Digging up Universal horror 

The first Universal Studios Mummy movie was released a mere 10 years later, drawing on the popularity of Ancient Egypt and including elements from Arthur Conan Doyle’s slight 1890 tale of an Egyptologist encountering strange events in the Louvre, The Ring of Thoth

Universal’s original run of Mummy features was released between 1932 and 1955. Boris Karloff originated the role of Imhotep, the high priest of ancient Egypt who’s resurrected in a mummified form in the modern day, seeking to revive his dead lover Princess Anck-es-en-Amon. Subsequent movies followed the repeated resurrection of the mummified Kharis. Another high priest who shared a beat-for-beat background story with Imhotep.

Here’s the sequence to watch the original story of Imhotep and Kharis.

  • The Mummy (1932)
  • The Mummy’s Hand (1940)
  • The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)
  • The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)
  • The Mummy’s Curse (1944)
  • Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)

The Mummy lived on in a Hammer Horror film sequence between 1959 and 1971 before the allure of seeing Egyptian curses wore off at the box office. Attempts to mimic the tomb-raiding success of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ Indiana Jones films hadn’t paid off since the 1980s. But you can only entomb a mummy, not destroy it as the franchise was spectacularly rejuvenated at the end of the 20th century when writer-director Steven Sommers hit on a magic formula that resurrected Universal’s slumbering horror franchise with a vintage action twist. 

The Mummy film series (1999-2008)

The new franchise added comedy, set-pieces, and extended special effects sequences to the concept, returning the story to the Egyptologist’s dream decade of the 1920s. Crucially it was built around some compelling and balanced characters, brought together to square off against the returning evil of Imhotep (brought up to date by Arnold Vosloo and CGI). 

Saving the world was Brendan Fraser as American adventurer and WWI veteran Rick O’Connell and his British librarian love interest and amateur Egyptologist, Evelyn Carnahan, played by Rachel Weisz. Rounding out the core trio was John Hannah as Evelyn’s brother Jonathan, a thief and wimpish comic relief. 

The Mummy was a box-office sensation, launching a trilogy that closed with a fight against a new mummy, the Chinese Dragon Emperor. In the second movie, Rick and Evelyn were joined by their son Alex. In the trilogy-closer, Maria Bello stepped in to take over the role of Evely. On the way, it spawned several video games and an animated series. Here’s how to watch the main series in chronological order.

  • The Mummy (1999)
  • The Mummy Returns (2001)
  • The Mummy (animated series, 2001-2002)
  • The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai (animated series, 2003)
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

A fourth film was planned, but Universal eventually decided to redevelop it into a reboot that would form part of Universal’s short-lived Dark Universe — 2017’s The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella as Ahmanet, a female version of Imhotep. 

The Scorpion King spin-off series (2002–2018)

The first movie’s success led to an ambitious broadening of the franchise, including the spin-off Scorpian King features. The first movie, The Scorpion King, launched Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson into movie theaters and notably tied into the plot of The Mummy Returns

Subsequent stories continued the cursed character’s adventures in the ancient world, with other actors taking on the role of Mathayus of Akkad. These movies also explored the origin of objects seen in The Mummy, such as the Book of the Dead.

Here’s the complete Scorpian King sequence:

  • The Scorpion King (2002)
  • The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)
  • The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)
  • The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)
  • The Scorpion King: Book of Souls (2018)

Brendan Fraser has said that the door isn’t closed on his return as Rick O’Connell, so there could be life left in the franchise that appeared to slink back into a sarcophagus in 2018. To refresh your memories, here’s how to catch the complete Mummy universe movies in chronological order:

  • The Scorpion King (2002)
  • The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior (2008)
  • The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012)
  • The Scorpion King 4: Quest for Power (2015)
  • The Scorpion King: Book of Souls (2018)
  • The Mummy (1999)
  • The Mummy Returns (2001)
  • The Mummy (animated series, 2001-2002)
  • The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai (animated series, 2003)
  • The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008)

Hopefully, it will not take much time for the Mummy to plot its comeback.