Originally intended to launch with 2014's Dracula Untold, development of the Dark Universe was postponed when that film underperformed. It instead was meant to begin with 2017's The Mummy reboot, starring Tom Cruise as canon foreigner Nick Morton, Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll, and Sofia Boutella as the titular mummy.
While the only other film in this setting whose title had been announced was Bill Condon's Bride of Frankenstein remake, Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp were cast as Frankenstein's monster and The Invisible Man, respectively. Prolific composer Danny Elfman composed a leitmotif for the franchise, titled "Monsters Legacy".
Due to the critical and box office underperformance of The Mummy, Universal announced in January 2019 that the Dark Universe was completely scrapped and will instead make director-driven films based on the classic monsters, starting with a reboot of The Invisible Man to be directed by Leigh Whannell and produced by Blum, but without starring Johnny Depp as previously reported.
Entries in the Dark Universe include:
- The Mummy (2017)
Anime & Manga
- The Mummy: Dark Stories (2017)
- The Mummy: Prodigium Strike (2017)
- The Mummy: Dark Universe Stories (2017)
- The Mummy Demastered (2017)
- Bride of Frankenstein
- Untitled Creature from the Black Lagoon film
- Untitled Invisible Man film
- Untitled Van Helsing film
- Untitled Wolf Man film
- Untitled Frankenstein film
- Untitled Dracula film
- Untitled Hunchback of Notre Dame film
- Untitled Phantom of the Opera film
The Dark Universe contains examples of the following tropes.
- Affirmative Action Girl: The first full on monsters with starring roles are Ahmanet (the female mummy) and the Bride of Frankenstein. The others, like Jekyll/Hyde and Frankenstein's Monster, exist already but they aren't the headlining monster yet.
- Ancient Order of Protectors: The Prodigium, a group that knows of the monsters, seeks to protect humanity from them and is set to tie the films to one another.
- Benevolent Conspiracy: Prodigium aims at protecting humanity from evil.
- Canon Discontinuity: Dracula Untold, which was intended to be the first in this line of films when it was made, is separate from the Dark Universe, its role as the first film being taken by The Mummy.
- Canon Foreigner:
- Nick Morton, Tom Cruise's character in The Mummy, is set to be a major recurring character alongside the monsters.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were never part of the original Universal monster marketing, with the two famous adaptations around the same time having been made by Paramount and MGM.
- Universal did however give Boris Karloff a turn at playing him for a crossover with Abbott and Costello. It also should be remembered the studio that would become Universal did make a Jekyll/Hyde movie back in 1918. Neither versions have often been included in previous Universal Monster packaging but most certainly do offer precedent for this version's inclusion.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The Egyptian God Set, who is also Satan. He's currently sealed inside Nick Morton.
- Mythology Gag: "To a new world of gods and monsters!" is a quote from the original 1935 Bride of Frankenstein. It's been adopted as a sort of slogan.
- Shared Universe: The general intent for this franchise
- Spiritual Successor: To the classic Universal Horror films, one of the earliest examples of a Shared Universe in cinema. The classic Universal Horror monsters were loosely connected through crossover films. Following The Mummy there has been some consideration as to whether the franchise would have needed to follow the modern "cinematic universe" model as codified by the Marvel Cinematic Universe or blend closer to the original as it goes on. However with the setting over this door is closed although it's replacements might very well still make the shift themselves.
- Villain Protagonist: Averted Trope, at least so far. The monsters who are truly evil are set to be antagonists in the films. How this plays out for each monster will be determined as the franchise goes on.