“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” Aka, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Everybody’s heard the quote, but did you know where it comes from? It’s from the poem “To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785” written by Robert Burns. The author was Scottish, thus the, to anyone other than a Scotsman, unintelligible original vernacular of the piece. I once upon a time entertained notions of becoming an English teacher, so I hope you’ll all forgive me this little mini-lesson, but it truly does apply to what is going on right now with Universal’s DARK UNIVERSE. Or should that be “DEAD Universe?”
They had such big plans, a Marvel-esque shared universe featuring all the classic Monsters. There were worrisome rumors that the true fans picked up on from the beginning, claims that the movies would lean more towards Action than Horror, and that such questionable casting decisions as Duane “The Rock” Johnson as the Wolfman. Still, we had our fingers crossed. Then THE MUMMY opened in theaters, and bombed, and even those of us hardcore fanboys who liked it readily admitted it had some considerable flaws. Are all the plans for the DARK UNIVERSE scrapped now? And if they are, is this a good thing or a bad thing? The guy in charge of things, Robert Kurtzman, when asked if he was still involved in the project, had this to say: “You know the truth is, I don’t know. I really don’t know…I haven’t really decided. Is the honest answer.”
Fellow fanboys, I propose that this will ultimately be a GOOD thing. Like the abysmal failure of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 led Sony to give the control of the character back to Marvel (minus their cut, naturally) and gave us a new, better Spider-Man and a more complete and enjoyable Marvel cinematic universe, the failure of THE MUMMY will eventually prove beneficial to our beloved Monster icons. Whether Kurtzman stays or goes, it seems likely that a new approach is called for. If the DARK UNIVERSE continues at all, it won’t be what it was originally intended to be–and that’s a good thing. We don’t want Action movies with monsters. We don’t want Tom Cruise. We don’t want The Rock as the Wolfman. We want serious movies that treat the characters with respect. We want Horror movies with gravitas. Had THE MUMMY been a blockbuster, we’d be a lot less likely to get those things. THE MUMMY took one for the team. We should be grateful.