Universal’s shared Monsters Universe is still in a state of infancy, but that hasn’t stopped screenwriters/architects Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan from outlining their ambitious plans to bring some of cinema’s most iconic creatures together under the one narrative umbrella. The former will get the ball rolling later this year with the release of The Mummy, a franchise-starter that finds Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis going up against Sofia Boutella’s unruly deity.
Perhaps one of the more important story elements set to bind each film together, though, is the Prodigium, an ancient organization that specializes in the supernatural. It’s the gateway into Universal’s Monsters Universe, essentially, and when Collider caught up with Chris Morgan, the scribe touched base on how each picture is being treated as a standalone entity that will share some DNA with its next of kin.
One recurring feature is, of course, Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll, the head honcho of Prodigium as seen in The Mummy. Beyond that, Universal’s interconnected universe is still in a state of flux, after Morgan told Collider that the actual movie order is yet to be confirmed.
“We kind of designed them all to be kind of standalone sorts of franchises that have kind of similar things between them. And as the scripts came in, then we started putting them in a, ‘Well this would be a good order. We reveal this here’ so now it really comes down to, again, it’s a studio decision on which film is coming out next. Just with all the films we’re working on, Bride of Frankenstein, Van Helsing, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Wolfman, Invisible Man, and on and on and on, it’s a real embarrassment of riches in terms of awesome, fun characters. I always say it this way: I’m in my office right now and I’ve got a Werewolf head mounted on the wall. It’s pretty good to come into your office and—that’s what you’re working with, you’re working with monsters that are 80, almost 100 years old. There’s a real legacy, a real respect, the fact that this studio, I don’t think, would have lasted if it wasn’t for the monsters, it really built up.”
As Morgan mentions, dabbling in such a crowded toolbox can be considered an “embarrassment of riches” in terms of characters, and we know that Universal continues to make headway on Frankenstein (Javier Bardem), the Invisible Man (Johnny Depp), and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, after Aquaman scribe Will Beall climbed on board to script the latter.
But is there a possibility that the studio will release one of the above as an R-rated feature? It’s not off the table, according to Morgan, but the writer did emphasize the need for a rating that is “tonally right for the story” at hand.
“It does come up. I don’t want to say it’s a different conversation, because it’s not really, we’ve always taken the approach of writing it for the way that it’s right and then we can always scale up and down for rating if that became a concern. But let’s just do the best story, just show us what the best story is and we can deal with that later. I mean, I think specially with Logan and Deadpool, those are great examples for [the R-rating], they make a real case for there being flexibility in the rating more than there ever was. So, again, just tonally right for the story that you want to tell and let’s deal with that later.”
Universal’s Monsters Universe will get going in earnest with the release of The Mummy on June 9th.