We now live in an age where most film franchises are trying to build universes within their films. We already know of the comic based ones like Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Expanded Universe, and there is even ones connecting the 21 Jump Street films to the Men In Black franchise. Yeah, that's a thing to keep an eye out for...I guess.
So far, it's been a hit for the most part. Trying to weave a giant story through multiple films so that they don't all end up just being sequels under the same name, and being able to bring characters together that you may have never thought would exist in one specific time frame or franchise.
It really is a genius idea, and Universal, as we all might know by now, have decided to expand that the idea of a shared universe to the classic Universal Monsters films. That's right, Dracula, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Werewolf, Frankenstein, and the rest of the crew are all coming together for it's own shared universe that has been called "The Dark Universe". If you have not seen it yet, here is the trailer they made about it:
On paper, this sounds like a great idea. They've done it before and technically, I believe they did the share universe troupe first with "Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman" in 1943. Once the individual films starting getting stale, they had to bring new life to them by pulling the whole "Who would win in a fight" scenario. And it was awesome.
I'm a giant monster/horror fan and the idea that they want to re-imagine a world where Dracula teams up with The Invisible Man or having The Werewolf square off against Mr. Hyde using today's modern day graphics could be an amazing thing, right? Wrong. And I'm going to break down exactly why and tell you how I think it would have worked.
The big problem is that right from the start, their first movie to bring this universe to life, their "Iron-Man" if you will, is the Mummy. And really, it doesn't really matter which monster you want to start with to make this work, the problem lies with how they did.
I do admit, I have yet seen (and probably won't) this new variation of "The Mummy" but just from the trailers and facts I have read about the film, it is totally not what I would expect from a modern day interpretation of the 1932 classic. The trailers alone make this feel more like an action/adventure film with sprinkles of suspense thrown throughout. And the top it off, Dr. Jekyll shows up in the film to tell Tom Cruise's character that he is part of a secret organization that tracks possible sightings of monsters from around the world.What exactly does his organization want to do with these monsters when they are found, still not sure. But I feel it will be to form an Avengers like team. And if that is the case....Stop it now.
Now that I have that out of the way, this is how I would have made the "Dark Universe" a shared universe. You can keep the fact that you want to have Dr. Jekyll as the connecting factor, that's totally fine. But start him out in Frankenstein as a competing scientist. They both are trying to figure out how make life and Victor Frankenstein makes his monster for that reason. Dr. Jekyll doesn't have to be a huge factor in this film, but the fact that he is acknowledged will help set up that this world is much bigger and that there are more monsters out there.
From there, you can easily build up. Maybe Jekyll gets mad that Victor beat him to the punch with his flawed monstrosity, so he travels to Egypt to find the Book of The Dead and is involved a little bit with the cast of that Mummy film. Or he hears of a Lagoon with super human properties, that just so happens to be the home of The Creature. And then, maybe, through his travels from place to place, that's how he makes his serum that will turn him into Mr. Hyde. You have so many better avenues then just having a secret organization that is cataloging and trying to capture known or unknown monsters.
The big thing about these films is that they should be treated more as straight up horror films. Make them gritty and suspenseful. Don't make every film action pack and fill with big explosions and possible complete world destruction. These monsters were fierce, but they are never in it for world domination/destruction. They are just flawed and wished to be left alone, or they just wanted to kill civilians for their own pleasure. But it never revolved around taking over the world. So, instead of making these movies have big consequences of devastation, set it up to be more in your face and suspenseful. And don't go crazy with gore. We don't need all that.
And if by any chance Universal reads this and runs with any of these ideas, I want 20%.