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The new version of The Mummy is meant to launch an entire cinematic universe of classic monster films. But what about all the films that came before, including the popular Mummy films starring Brendan Fraser? If the Dark Universe is a brand new concept, does that mean that the previous Mummy films never happened? Actually, it turns out they did. According to director Alex Kurtzman, The Universal monsters have such a history that he feels you have to pay homage to them. As he sees it, none of the early films are being written out of existence, they're just taking the franchise in a new director. According to the director...
So, all of those films are part of the history of the Universal monsters, and as such I thought, rather than say it's not part of the canon, let's say, 'No, it is part of the canon; we're just taking it somewhere new.'
While Marvel is the studio credited with creating the cinematic shared universe concept with their superhero movies, the fact is that Universal actually did this back in the day with their monster characters like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster. Quite often they had the same actors portraying the same characters across multiple films, including crossovers with other monsters. Based on what Alex Kurtzman is telling Digital Spy here, he sounds like he views all of the classic monster movies as still having taken place, but decades have passed and this is now what is happening with these characters now.
The same apparently holds true for later films like the Mummy trilogy that starred Brendan Fraser. The question isn't just semantic. As we've previously written, the new Mummy movie contains an easter egg reference to the 1999 film, which would seem to imply that the two films are taking place within the same fictional world. When pressed on this connection specifically, Kurtzman seemed to make the decision right then and there, that, yes, the previous Mummy films are part of the Dark Universe.
Sure! Why not? You're free to quote that.
In the case of The Mummy, there's really no reason why the films can't share canon. The mummies themselves are not the same character, so there's no problem with claiming that both sets of events happened. In fact, this could explain why the next film in the Dark Universe is set to be Bride of Frankenstein, without the franchise actually making a Frankenstein, to begin with. Perhaps Bride will actually follow the events of the original Bride of Frankenstein in some way as if the events of the classic monster movies had actually happened.
It will be interesting to see if the Dark Universe does more to incorporate the rest of the classic monster movies into its canon. Alex Kurtzman's The Mummy is in theaters now.