11:58am PT by Graeme McMillan
'The Mummy': What You Need to Know Before Seeing the Reboot
There's a lot riding on the success of Universal's The Mummy, not least of all the future of the Dark Universe, the studio's monster-centric Marvel-esque shared cinematic imprint. That said, trailers for the movie don't give too much away about the movie beyond the fact that it stars Tom Cruise and doesn't star Dwayne Johnson, who played the Scorpion King himself back in 1999. So what do audiences need to know before heading to the theaters this weekend? Here's the lowdown.
Mummies Are Just Like Zombies, Except With Bandages, Right?
Before zombies made it big, mummies were the walking dead of choice for cinema. Starting with 1932's The Mummy, the idea of ancient Egyptian corpses that come back to something close to life as the result of a curse was a mainstay of early genre cinema, with no less than four sequels, two British remakes and a handful of parodies and pastiches in a brief period. Even though zombies have had the spotlight in recent years, mummies did the spooky, murdery shuffle first — and, traditionally, with an extra layer of clothing … well, bandages.
Is Tom Cruise The Mummy This Time?
Nope, he's Nick Morton, a morally ambiguous tomb raider who gets involved in the same kind of stunts as Cruise's Mission: Impossible character while also having to fight off an ancient undead evil. The eponymous Mummy is played by Sofia Boutella, while Annabelle Wallis plays archeologist Jenny Halsey.
How Does This Connect to the Brendan Fraser Mummy Movies?
The short version is, it doesn't; before Cruise took it upon himself to fight off ancient Egyptian threats to modern civilization, movie audiences had become used to Fraser's The Mummy trilogy, in which Rick O'Connell dealt with resurrected monsters plaguing the world in the early 20th century. Until it's revealed otherwise, the new movie isn't related to that trilogy in any way outside of sharing a fondness for shedding the traditional bandaged look for its titular threats. Instead, the new pic is a reboot of the original 1932 storyline and first installment of Universal's Dark Universe.
What Is the Dark Universe, Anyway?
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe having demonstrated that superhero movies work best when they're surrounded by other superhero movies, Dark Universe is an attempt to prove the same is true of monster movies. Universal's Dark Universe will feature such classic characters as the Wolfman, the Invisible Man and the Bride of Frankenstein. It's actually the second shared universe for monsters in cinema right now, with Legendary's Godzilla and Kong: Skull Island launching the appropriately named Monsterverse. If the studios ever decide to work together for a crossover, the Dark Monsterverse could prove to be a singularity that sucks in all movie monsters ever.
So Who Is the Nick Fury of This Universe?
The connective tissue between the Dark Universe movies is said to be Russell Crowe, whose Dr. Jekyll (of … and Mr. Hyde fame) is the founder of an organization called The Prodigium, which is dedicated to tracking down monsters around the world and keeping tabs on artifacts that might conjure new ones into existence. Think of it as a cross between Hellboy's Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense and Marvel's SHIELD, only with a boss who literally could turn into a murderous monster at any minute. There's no way that's going to go wrong, of course.
If Dark Universe Is Resurrecting All the Classic Universal Monster Characters, Who Will Play the New Abbott and Costello?
Although Abbott and Costello had their fair share of monster run-ins — there were movies showing them meeting up with Frankenstein's Monster, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and the Mummy — there are no plans for a rebooted Abbott and Costello as yet. That said, there's already been a Three Stooges reboot, so the idea isn't necessarily as impossible as it might seem at first.