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Despite the crash and burn that was Dracula Untold, Universal is hell bent on crafting the shared universe that will herald the rebirth of their legendary Universal Monsters. With The Mummy, the studio hopes that Tom Cruise fighting the forces of supernatural evil will draw the public into their multi-picture trap, and it looks like Jake Johnson will be the sidekick tasked with helping him do so.
The Hollywood Reporter delivered the news that Johnson, who served as comedic relief in the studio's massive hit of 2015 Jurassic World, is now set to play "a member of the military" in a role specially tailored for his skill-set. Seeing as Tom Cruise is playing a member of a Special Forces organization and Annabelle Wallis is playing a scientist involved with whatever the new mummy will be trying to pull, Johnson's place as the comic relief is not only a given, it's a continuation of the formula.
Looking back to the multitude of action adventure comedies in the past couple of decades, but most specifically Stephen Sommers' previous incarnation of The Mummy, the structure of the new team is mighty familiar. Using the Sommers template as a direct analog, Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis are obviously the Brendan Fraser / Rachel Weisz of the next generation of The Mummy, which puts Jake Johnson squarely in the role of the John Hannah surrogate. Not only does this dictate that Johnson will get to tell Tom Cruise's unnamed character how crazy he is for trying to defeat a mummy, but also gets to have some scrapes and pratfalls of his own while trying to help out. If this isn't the perfect position for Johnson to be put into, we don't know what is.
While he didn't get all that many action beats to work off of in Jurassic World, Jake Johnson won't have to do too much adapting to such activity in The Mummy. And you can thank the massively panned Let's Be Cops for helping give Johnson the edge when it comes to the Alex Kurtzman directed refresh. The latter film gave Johnson a taste of action choreography, as well as some time in a uniform, so the transition from the TV star's previous film gig won't be that jarring. Though considering the latest actor to play the titular mummy is Star Trek Beyond's Sofia Boutella, Jake Johnson's prep for The Mummy might be a little more intense than expected.
The Mummy has a lot riding on its shoulders, as the new approach to the classic horror story is Universal's second shot at creating a universe where their creatures can freely go bump in the night. With Johnny Depp's new interpretation of The Invisible Man presumably hanging in the balance, the success of the Tom Cruise lead reboot would be the key to the subsequent film's existence. However, with Jake Johnston providing to be more than up to the challenge of balancing beatings with banter, Cruise won't have to shoulder the burden of the entire Universal Monsters universe alone.
The Mummy is slated to start production in April, with a June 9, 2017 release date penciled in.