Universal's Monster MCU is Failing. Here are Six People Who Can Save It

Five months ago, Universal Studios unveiled an ambitious plan for resurrecting its stable of classic monsters, like Frankenstein and Dracula. Called Dark Universe, the interconnected series of films would feature updated versions of the characters while advancing Marvel's plan to create a unified cinematic universe.

Dark Universe was supposed to come to life last summer, with the Tom Cruise-led reboot of The Mummy. But the film underperformed at the American box office, Universal scrapped a planned reboot of Bride of Frankenstein and now two high-profile creators have left the series. According to The Hollywood ReporterDark Universe masterminds writer-producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan have exited to focus on other projects. 

dark-universe Universal's Dark Universe logo, which appeared before "The Mummy" (2017). Universal

With their departure, the dream of "Monsters, assemble!" seems to have been sent to the crypt. Universal’s president of production Peter Cramer said in a statement that the remaining creature features—including The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll, and Frankenstein's Monster—are being put on hold for now.

Though Universal hasn't pulled the Dark Universe plug entirely, the future doesn't look good. Still, the concept of a larger monsterverse is a good one. And there are people in Hollywood with the experience to pull it off, and well. Here are a six candidates who could step in for Kurtzman and Morgan:

Junji Ito and Guillermo Del Toro - Dr. Jekyll

11-8-junji-ito A panel from Junji Ito's body horror manga. Junji Ito

The fact that Universal tried to make a monster movie series without consulting Guillermo Del Toro is crazypants. The Mexican-American filmmaker—director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy—is to monsters what Alfred Hitchcock was to horror. And Junji Ito, the Japanese manga artist, is hands down the most innovative creator working in horror comics. Ito and del Toro planned to work on a Silent Hill reboot, which never got off the ground. But these two creators on a Dr. Jekyll film? The results are sure to be unforgettable.

Roger Corman - Frankenstein’s Monster

11-9-roger-corman An original theatrical poster from Corman's early work. Roger Corman

Horror and shlock producer Roger Corman knows how to get under your skin—then make it melt away. When Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, she was telling a story about identity by way of visceral body horror. A film with Corman at the helm would make Shelley’s world deliciously gory. Doesn’t the story of Frankenstein’s monster deserve to be as gut-churningly obscene as it is emotionally devastating? Even at 91, Corman could pull this off in his sleep.

John Carpenter - Bride of Frankenstein

Thing20 The infamous scene from John Carpenter's 1978 film, 'The Thing'. Universal Pictures

Let’s consider John Carpenter's 1982 classic The Thing as his audition for a Bride of Frankenstein reboot. At its core, the story of Frankenstein’s monster and his sewn-together bride is about two creatures, borne of human decay, reaching for humane connection and finding only dead tissue. Re-watch Wilford Brimley sticking his arms up to the elbow of his friend’s open ribcage and tell me Carpenter isn’t the man for that story.

Frank Darabont - The Mummy

walking-dead-season-1-zombie-and-rick Andrew Lincoln on set of 'The Walking Dead' Season 1. AMC

Darabont is a gorehound who worked extensively with Night of the Living Dead maestro George A. Romero. That gave him the perfect resume for The Walking Dead, which he developed and executive produced—until AMC fired him. But the series’ creative team still credit the makeup wizard with its success. Nobody knows how to re-animate the dead like Darabont, and a film like The Mummy would allow him to do what he does best: put a creaky old monster against a likable band of human misfits.

Vincenzo Natali - The Invisible Man

splice-movie-image-4 The creature in 'Splice' meets her maker. Warner Bros. Pictures

Natali is the black horse here, as his films tend to divide critics and fans. Whatever your feelings about him, it's difficult to watch Splice or Cube and think, “Meh." Natali would bring much-needed weirdness to The Invisible Man, arguably the weakest of the Universal monsterverse slate. It’s the focus on dark, experimental science in The Invisible Man that calls for Natali’s vision. And while his horror films are often fantastical, human hubris is at their terrifying core.

Additional reporting by Anna Menta

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