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If you look back on the history of Guillermo del Toro's career, there are quite a few projects that never came to be. Yet, there's one particular opportunity that got away that still haunts the director to this day, and considering recent events, the opportunity is one that may have been better off with the famous director's involvement. As The Shape of Water's director explained in a recent talk, he was approached with the opportunity to helm what would become The Dark Universe, but he sadly passed up:
I've said no to things that are enormous and I've never looked back, you know? The only time I repent I didn't do something was in 2007, when Universal in an incredibly gentle and beautiful manner said do you want to take over the Monster Universe? And they gave me the reins of several properties, and I didn't do it. That I repent. So this is a confessional moment, I repent. That's the only thing.
So if history shook out differently, we'd have seen a pre-Dark Universe revival of the Universal Monsters with Guillermo del Toro at the helm. If anyone was born to helm such a project, it has to be the man behind the Hellboy franchise. However, for one reason or another -- and he doesn't say here -- the director passed up on that golden opportunity, and history marched on without him. Knowing what we know about the time frame that Guillermo del Toro is talking about, the hypothetical reins he's talking about may coincide with the modern Frankenstein remake that he was attached to for several years. With that particular era, and this particular project in mind, something really special could have happened.
If Guillermo del Toro's talk with The New York Times is any indication, there's a chance that Universal and del Toro might both have something to offer each other. Universal may eventually want to rework its Dark Universe, which currently seems to be on hold. Plus, if Guillermo del Toro is really that repentant for passing up his chance at running the show, then maybe it's time both parties come back to the table and try to work something out. All it would take is a clean slate, some old-fashioned planning, and a lot of breathing room for del Toro's mind to seek out a new voice for the monsters that still haunts our imaginations to this day.
To me, the biggest upset that comes out of Guillermo del Toro's Frankenstein never actually happening is the fact that throughout his career he's made monsters out of men, and vice versa. His Gothic sensibilities, mixed with a healthy appetite for gore and shock, could have made a modern horror masterpiece, the likes of which we may never see. Mary Shelley's tragic tale of a creature that curses his creator, and a man who isn't remotely ready to deal with the downside to the creation game, is something so square in del Toro's wheelhouse, I imagine it would have been a home run sailing over the Universal lot's gates. Perhaps del Toro's comment could reopen the door for that sort of project down the line.
If you're interested in seeing what Guillermo del Toro's Universal Monsters Universe might look like, you should check out The Shape of Water, as it starts its roll-out this Friday in limited release.