Real heads remember the “Dark Universe.” It was supposed to be Universal’s version of the MCU or the DCEU, but populated with the studio’s classic monsters from the ‘30s and ‘40s. Johnny Depp was supposed to play the Invisible Man. Javier Bardem would take on the creature from Frankenstein (with Angelina Jolie courted to play his Bride). Russell Crowe got in one appearance as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the only movie that resulted from his ambitious -verse: 2017’s The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise. Alas, the movie tanked so hard it killed the series dead right out of the gate. Now the film’s director is opening up about it.
As per The Hollywood Reporter, Alex Kurtzman — a longtime franchise film screenwriter who co-created the Showtime stab at The Man Who Fell to Earth, previously turned into a trippy David Bowie movie — talked about the disaster on the podcast Bingeworthy. Some five years removed, he’s more comfortable talking about the film that killed a cinematic universe.
I tend to subscribe to the point of view that you learn nothing from your successes, and you learn everything from your failures,” Kurtzman said. “And that was probably the biggest failure of my life, both personally and professionally. There’s about a million things I regret about it, but it also gave me so many gifts that are inexpressibly beautiful. I didn’t become a director until I made that movie, and it wasn’t because it was well-directed — it was because it wasn’t.”
He continued to spin the failure into a learning opportunity. “And as brutal as it was, in many ways, and as many cooks in the kitchen as there were, I am very grateful for the opportunity to make those mistakes because it rebuilt me into a tougher person, and it also rebuilt me into a clearer filmmaker,” Kurtzman said. “And that has been a real gift, and I feel those gifts all the time because I’m very clear now when I have a feeling that doesn’t feel right — I am not quiet about it anymore. I will literally not proceed when I feel that feeling. It’s not worth it to me. And you can’t get to that place of gratitude until you’ve had that kind of experience.”
In The Mummy, Cruise played a treasure hunting U.S. sergeant who fights an undead Egyptian princess (Sofia Boutella), only to [SPOILER] wind up a mummy himself (or something). But that wasn’t the end. Not only did Cruise quickly rebound with Mission: Impossible — Fallout, but Universal found another way to revive their old monster IPs: making outside-the-box, low-budget versions, such as the Elisabeth Moss-starring The Invisible Man, which is more in keeping with the classic movies anyway. In other words, there’s a happy ending.