the mummy featurette

In the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the various films and characters were connected by the mysterious organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D., which was run by the enigmatic super-spy Nick Fury. And while this agency has grown less central to the films as time has gone on, we’re starting to see the MCU effect in other movies that want to build “shared universes.” Just look to Kong: Skull Island, which connects to 2014’s Godzilla through a secretive organization called Monarch.

And wouldn’t you know it? The Mummy, the first entry in a proposed “monsters universe” for Universal Studios, features another top secret organization. It’s called Prodigium and it’s run by Russell Crowe‘s Dr. Henry Jekyll and you just know that we’ll being seeing a lot of more of them, should these movies take off.

This was all revealed in this new featurette (the follow-up to last week’s video about the stunt work in the film), which features Crowe and director Alex Kurtzman talking all about Prodigium and Jekyll and their role in The Mummy…which seems to involve explaining a lot of stuff to Tom Cruise’s rightfully baffled lead character:

While no one at Universal has directly said that they’re mimicking the Marvel Studios model with these movies, it’s pretty obvious. After all, it’s the things that actually work that tend to inspire imitators.

Our own Peter Sciretta sat down with Kurtzman last year to talk about his vision for the movie. At one point, they even spoke about the decision to bring Henry Jekyll, himself a horror icon, into the story as a key character:

In looking to figure out how to place The Mummy in a larger context and setting up this organization that has actually been dealing with monsters for longer than any of us have been around, it became clear that we needed somebody to be the voice of that organization. The next thought was like, “Well, it could be Joe Mcgillicuddy, or we could actually go into another character that makes sense organically.” It was a real point of conversation with Tom. If we’re going to bring in Henry Jekyll, how is bringing Henry Jekyll into the mummy story not a detractor from the mummy story? How does Henry Jekyll become part of this story in an organic way? And part of what Tom’s character, Nick, learns about the mummy and about the history of the mummy comes through Jekyll’s very deep understanding of monsters and how monsters have existing quietly in this world for eons.

While there’s a certain part of me that’s ticked to think about a classic Robert Louis Stevenson  character essentially playing the role of Nick Fury in a monster movie universe inspired by Universal’s untouchably great horror movies from the ’30s and ’40s, I’ll come right out and say it: I’m already tired of “top-secret organizations that know everything about everyone” being the glue that connects “cinematic universes.” It feels like the easy choice at this point. And more damningly, it seems to rob these monsters of their mysteries. The Mummy, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the Wolf Man are all characters who exist in whispers and legend. Introducing an organization that exists to drop exposition about them because they know seem to know everything makes it all feel so much less creepy.

Then again, it’s become increasingly obvious that The Mummy doesn’t want to be creepy – it wants to be an action-packed adventure movie that doesn’t evoke the classic Universal monster movies at all. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe it’ll be a good movie, even if it’s not being made for me. But I’ll just be honest with you: this old school monster fan is feeling increasingly bummed out by this movie.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: