Today marks the Australian release of The Mummy. The Tom Cruise led action flick will be the first film in the newly announced ‘Dark Universe’, a project that will revive Universal’s classic monsters that debuted in the 20’s and 30s’. The likes of Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolf Man and the Invisible Man are all set to have major remakes with the films all being part of one interconnected universe.
Recently Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp signed on to play Frankenstein’s Monster and The Invisible Man, respectively while Sofia Boutella will play the titular role in The Mummy. Russell Crowe will be the universes anchor as Dr Jekyll, head of an operation called Prodigum intent on hunting down the world’s monsters.
This got us thinking. When you put together something as big as an expanding, shared universe, you’re going to need some A+ players to round it out. The actors already involved so much as confirm that. So where does that leave the upcoming films? If Universal do decide to go for broke and resurrect every film under the classic monsters banner, their cast is kind of important. So Universal, if you will, we put together our dream list.
Bride of Frankenstein – Marion Cotillard
This is the only other film in the DU to have a release date so far, slated for a 2019 opening and still no word on casting. However the Hollywood Reporter has stated that Universal are currently in talks with Angelina Jolie to fill the shoes of Dr. Frankenstein’s potential mate for his first creation.
Our money though, if we were in possession of such a figure, would be on Marion Cotillard. The french actress not only looks the part, but she can play stoic and melodramatic like no one else. She has proved time and time again that she can just about play anything from comic book villains (Dark Knight Rises) to Freedom Fighters (Allied) to Shakespearean roles (Macbeth) so she’d have no trouble being a the monstrous product of a crazy scientist.
The 1935 film starred Elsa Lanchester (pictured above) in the role that would shoot her to fame and stardom.
Wolfman – Michael Shannon
Another rumour floating around (this time according to Deadline) is that the charismatic Dwayne Johnson will be playing the Wolf Man. While he certainly has the star power, and build, he’s not quite who we were thinking.
On the contrary, we’d like to see Michael Shannon take on the role. I mean, just look at that face up there. Surely you’re not going to tell me that he isn’t literally transforming into a werewolf at that exact moment. Aside from Shannon’s scary facade, he is also a terrific actor and genuinely terrifying as seen in Iceman and Man of Steel. The Wolf Man certainly takes a lot of fluctuating emotions and Shannon would knock it out of the park.
The original Wolf Man in 1941 was played by Lon Chaney Jr. (pictured above). He was the only actor to play his monster role in every sequel, which in his case was another 4 times.
More recently in 2010, Benicio Del Toro turned in his version to less than positive reviews.
Dracula – Mads Mikkelsen
One can’t help but theorise that the future Dracula movie is going to be less Bela Legosi and more Gary Oldman from 92s’ Bram Stroker’s Dracula. Whatever the case, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen is perfectly equipped to play either or something entirely different. He’s shown his acting chops in the Hannibal TV series and The Hunt and held his own opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in Marvel’s Doctor Strange as a malevolent villain. He can command a screen and he oozes charm and sophistication, not unlike Nosferatu himself.
Dracula has had far too many on screen portrayals to mention but he was first played (at least officially) by Bela Legosi (pictured above) in 1931. Legosi had originally played the role on broadway and despite the studios reluctancy to cast him in the role, he eventually nabbed the part.
Interestingly enough, 2014’s Dracula Untold starring Luke Evans was intended to be the inaugural film for the proposed shared universe. The question still remained whether Universal were going to use it as their first film but over time the idea deteriorated and The Mummy was posited as the starting point.
Phantom of the Opera – Benedict Cumberbatch
Look. I am perfectly aware of how silly The Phantom of the Opera might be in on the silver screen in 2017. But apparently it’s happening, unless Universal come to this realisation too. They could perhaps have someone great in mind. Maybe even Benedict Cumberbatch. I know he’s currently tied up in another cinematic universe (Disney, trade him for Hulk distribution rights or something) but it would be perfect. The Sherlock star is incredibly gifted and his stock has definitely risen but the biggest selling point of all is his former theatre experience. After all, Phantom of the Opera plays out like one big stage play. Who else could eliminate the cheese factor and bring some credibility to the character?
The 1925 silent version of The Phantom of the Opera stared Lon Chaney Sr (pictured above). Yep, the father of the first Wolf Man. He was dubbed “The Man of 1,000 Faces” due to his numerous roles using make-up.
Gerald Butler played the last Phantom on screen but the less said about that the better.
Creature from the Black Lagoon – Andy Serkis
It’s probably safe to assume that The Creature from the Black Lagoon will be a CGI monster, especially in this day and age. So who else would you call upon if not the god of motion capture, Andy Serkis. He has provided realistic interpretations for monkeys both big (King Kong) and small (Planet of the Apes films) and of course Gollum from Lord of the Rings. It’s a no brainer, and although the Gill-man (yeah that’s right) was always made to walk like a zombie, this only means that Serkis could put his unique stamp on the character.
In the original Creature From the Black Lagoon film in 1954, Gill-man (seriously, stop laughing) was played by two actors. Ricou Browning played the creature when he was underwater and Ben Chapman filled the suit when he was on land.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Josh Gad
Sigh. I don’t why this is happening. Granted, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was the first movie to kick off the classics but I don’t see how anyone is going to make Quasimodo a threat to the world. Because he isn’t. He’s just a deformed hunchback. My opinions aside, I feel the only way to make it work is to inject a little humour into the proceedings, not unlike Disney’s 1996 animated adaptation.
Josh Gad, who is hot off the heels of a Disney adaptation himself in Beauty and the Beast, could make it happen. And if all else fails, he has shown that he can turn of the wit for a while both recently and in films like Wish I Was Here.
Lon Chaney Sr. who played The Phantom of the Opera also played Quasimodo in 1923 while Tom Hulce voiced him in Disney’s 1996 version.
Van Helsing – Michael Fassbender
Now it’s worth addressing that their is some heavy speculation regarding Tom Cruise’s character in the upcoming Mummy movie and whether he might in fact be the monster hunter Van Helsing. I get it, it’s a little strange that they used one of Hollywood’s biggest names to facilitate a role that is literally a brand new character. But we need to wait that one out. For now, let’s take a look at Michael Fassbender. He’s suave, intelligent, well spoken and he’s a complete bad ass. Look at that picture from A Dangerous Method and tell me he couldn’t play a doctor. Then watch Assassins Creed or the X-Men Films and tell me you would’t believe he could dispatch an army of monsters.
Van Helsing first appeared in 1931 in Dracula, played by Edward Van Sloan (pictured above) as a vampire hunter.
And no, before you ask, we’re not getting Hugh Jackman back. Of course the Australian actor played the character in 2004’s action flick.
So there you have it. The Iris’ picks for the lead roles in the Dark Universe. Your move Universal.
The Mummy is out in theatres today.