In news that shouldn’t come as a surprise, Universal Pictures’ Avengers-style Monsterverse will not pull from the original films’ horror roots. Instead, the studio is reimagining Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein, and other monsters as action-adventure movies.
During THR’s recent executive roundtable, Universal Pictures head Donna Langley explained how the studio is “getting into this game” without competing with superheroes:
[W]e have to mine our resources. We don’t have any capes [in our film library]. But what we do have is an incredible legacy and history with the monster characters. We’ve tried over the years to make monster movies—unsuccessfully, actually. So, we took a good, hard look at it, and we settled upon an idea, which is to take it out of the horror genre, put it more in the action-adventure genre and make it present day, bringing these incredibly rich and complex characters into present day and reimagine them and reintroduce them to a contemporary audience.
Langley certainly has a point: Remakes like Van Helsing, which tried to retain the scariness of the source material, were laughably bad. The Mummy movies did a great job of incorporating thrills and some chills; Imhotep was pretty disturbing. (We’re not going to talk about The Scorpion King.) But when you look at recent releases that try to transform classic monsters into full-fledged action stars, you get the awfulness of Dracula Untold and I, Frankenstein.
Interestingly, right before Langley’s answer, Disney studio head Alan Horn tried to make the argument that the term “superhero movie” has become all-inclusive and that there are delineations: “Captain America is a spy movie to us, in many respects. Thor is a Shakespearean drama in some respects.” Even if Universal claims not to be competing with the superhero movies, that’s an attitude they may want to consider.