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Film / The Mummy Trilogy

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"Oh, I hate mummies!"
Rick O'Connell

The Mummy Trilogy is a trilogy of movies that features mummies.

The first movie was a loose remake of the original film, though instead of being straight horror, it was more of an action-adventure with a dash of comedy—making it tonally more akin to the pulpier The Mummy's Hand (a semi-reboot of the original 1932 Mummy) and its sequels that ran throughout the 1940s. The end result is not unlike the Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider style of entertaining action movies.

The films in this franchise are, in order:

During the long wait for a third, we got the Spin-Off/Prequel The Scorpion King. It had The Rock fight Egyptians and sorcerers and stuff like that. It had pretty much nothing to do with the original two films, but had the same approach to humour and the action scenes in particular were considered awesome, if only for the fact that this is what happens to anything involving Dwayne Johnson. The Scorpion King itself got a direct-to-DVD pre-prequel, The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior, and two sequels, The Scorpion King 3: Battle For Redemption and The Scorpion King 4: Quest For Power. The existence of a fourth movie means that Universal made a sequel to a sequel to a prequel (to the original Scorpion King) of the prologue of a sequel (The Mummy Returns) of a remake (The Mummy) that is heavily influenced by a semi-reboot (The Mummy's Hand). Is your head hurting yet? A fifth Scorpion King film called The Scorpion King: Book of Souls was released in 2018 even though the main Mummy series had already been rebooted by that point.

An animated series loosely based on the films, set shortly after The Mummy Returns, debuted in 2001 on Kids' WB! and ran for two seasons.

A spin-off ride, known as Revenge of the Mummy can currently be found at the Universal Studios parks. The park's annual Halloween Horror Nights event also had haunted houses based on the first and second movies on their respective release years.

Not to be confused with the aforementioned 1932 film featuring Boris Karloff as Imhotep, or The Mummy (1959), a Hammer Horror film featuring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (which is not a remake of the 1932 movie, but rather a remake both of The Mummy's Hand and that film's sequel, The Mummy's Tomb), or the 1969 Egyptian art film more usually called The Night of Counting the Years (which Martin Scorsese once mentioned really liking).

The series was rebooted with new characters, a new story and a contemporary setting in 2017.

These films contain examples of:

  • Adrenaline Makeover:
  • Adventurer Archaeologist:
    • Kind of. None of them were trained archaeologists; Evy was a librarian (although it is mentioned at the start of the first film that she has been desperately trying to get herself into the field), and they had the most experience dealing with Imhotep. Ironically, Evy's slacker/con-artist/Plucky Comic Relief brother Jonathan is the only one with any kind of background in archaeology.
    • By the beginning of the second movie, however, they are running their own full scale digs. The films also takes place in the early days of archaeology when training wasn't as important as the personal funds to go tomb hunting.
    • In her introductory scene, Evy reveals that she is very proficient historian and Egyptologist, possessing extensive knowledge of history and ancient Egyptian languages. Her brother, on the other hand, is unable to recognize Seti I, father of one of the most famous pharaohs.
  • Adventurer Outfit: The main cast all sport the "archeologist" variant.
  • All Myths Are True: Egyptian and Chinese myths to be specific; Anubis serves as Greater-Scope Villain for Imhotep and the Scorpion King in the second movie, while Chinese magic and creatures such as Yetis are featured on the third movie. And if the Scorpion King spin-off series is any indication, Mesopotamian deities like Astarte coexist alongside them.
  • Ancient Egypt: The source of the plots for two out of three of the films.
  • The Animated Series: The Mummy: The Animated Series, set after the second movie.
  • Anti-Villain: All Imhotep wanted was to be reunited with his former lover. At the climax of the second movie he willingly falls into the Hell pit after realizing Ankh-su-namun had abandoned him. He gives a weak smile at Rick and Evelyn, showing he obviously envies their love.
  • Asshole Victim: The Pharaoh can come across as this, particularly if one finds Imhotep sympathetic. Flashbacks in the second film also reveal that despite loving his daughter deeply, the Pharaoh was perfectly content to ignore his daughter and wife's utter loathing of each other, to the point where they were clearly attempting to murder each other during their "friendly" sparring match.
  • Back from the Dead: There's quite a list.
    • Imhotep twice. In fact, Rick lampshades this in Dragon Emperor:
    Rick: I've put down more mummies than you have!
    Alex: Dad, you've only put down one mummy!
    Rick: Yeah, same mummy: twice! [emphatic two-fingered hand gestures]
    • Ankh-su-namun, as Meela.
    • The Scorpion King.
    • The Dragon Emperor. Let's just say it's a prerequisite for the villains in these things, huh?
    • Evy, after she is killed by Meela (Ankh-su-namun's reincarnation) in the second film.
  • Badass Bookworm: Evelyn has this in spades. While she's more of an Action Survivor in the first film, contributing mainly through her mental talents, a decade of time with Rick and the unlocking of her memories from a past life has her become fully combat-capable by Returns.
  • Bald of Evil: Imhotep; his outfits in his restored human form make sure this applies all over his body.
  • The Baroness: The resurrected Anck-su-namun in Returns and Choi in Dragon Emperor both fit the "Sexpot" trope image.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Several characters are cut and even impaled over the course of the trilogy, though there's far less blood than there should be.
  • Big Bad:
    • Imhotep is the main antagonist in the first and second, though in the latter, he shares the role with the Scorpion King, whom Imhotep intends to kill to gain control over his army.
    • Emperor Han in the third movie aims to revive his empire and take over the world.
  • Big Fancy House: Rick and Evy own one, as briefly seen in the sequel before the baddies break in and kickstart the adventure.
  • Big "OMG!": O'Connell's reaction to the magic sandstorm bearing down on the plane.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Mr. Burns, which results in him being Imhotep's first victim when he drops his glasses and has to look for them. As a result, Imhotep initially has poor vision after he takes Burns' eyes for himself.
  • Body Horror: Plenty in the first film, from the flesh burrowing scarabs to Imhotep taking the body parts of the American archeologists to slowly recompose his body.
  • Bookshelf Dominoes: Evy's introduction scene from the first movie.
    • Seems to run in the family, Alex does it with giant stone pillars in the sequel. Although it makes you wonder what exactly those pillars were holding up.
  • Bottomless Magazines: In the real-world 1930s, six shooters shot six times. In fact, the Single-Action Army revolvers they were using had to be loaded and unloaded one shot at a time. In the film, you get a full twelve shots with one of those bad boys.
    • Weirdly enough, it also contains a notable inversion in the opening shootout. Rick draws twin Colt M1911s, fires about four shots, and they both run dry (slides locked back and all). He throws them aside and draws two more Colt .45s. A strange case of Limited Magazines, as the Colt M1911 typically carries 7 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber.
  • Brick Joke: Jonathan hides in a sarcophagus in the museum and makes one of the mummies pop out to scare Evy. Later on when they open Imhotep's sarcophagus his mummy pops out at them and Evy yells "I hate it when these things do that!"
  • Britain Is Only London: The O'Connell's live in a manor somewhere in the English countryside, but it takes next to no time for them to immediately be in the heart of London when pursuing the bad guys to the British Museum.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Jonathan. He's smart enough to be able to both read Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and speak the language, but spends most of his time drinking, gambling and chasing women.
    • Given that we see him speak several languages, the same could be said about Beni.
  • Buffy Speak: The Spear of Osiris is referred to by the characters as the "Golden Stick Thing".
  • Butt-Monkey: Beni from the first movie and Jonathan in general, though they always seem to find a way to get out of the terrible situations they wind up in until Beni doesn't.
  • Call-Back: The hieroglyphic that Evy tells Jonathan about in the first film is the same one Jonathan tells Alex in the second. For an added bonus, the character that knows the hieroglyphic is trying to fight off Ankh Su-Namun at the same time.
    • In the first film, Rick disarms an enemy when he is pressed against a pillar with a headbutt. In the second film, when the house is under attack, Evy uses the same move against a Mook and comments to Alex, "That I learned from your father!"
    • Much like Evy's bookshelf catastrophe in the first film, in the second film Alex knocks over a series of columns in Disaster Dominoes fashion. Like mother, like son indeed.
  • Catchphrase: Rick has a number, such as "Here we go again" and "Goodbye, Beni".
  • Cat Fight: Evelyn a.k.a. Nefertiri vs. Meela a.k.a. Ankh-su-namun. Evy and Choi in the 3rd film.
  • Collapsing Lair: Every movie has one. The Mummy at least has a previously-established justification: Hamunaptra was designed to disappear beneath the sand with the flick of a switch at the pharaoh's order. Beni triggers said switch when he rests a saddlebag full of gold across it for a few moments whilst escaping.
  • Counterpart Artifacts: The black Book of the Dead awakens Imhotep and grants him immortality, while the gold Book of Amun-Ra makes him vulnerable.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Egyptian and Chinese mythology (or an extremely Hollywood-version of the two) both exist and interact.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Imhotep and his followers were mummified alive as punishment for killing the Pharaoh, which, for those who don't know, involves being Gutted Like a Fish and having your brain pulled out through your nose.
  • Curse Cut Short: When the museum curator is going to burn Evy.
    Evy: You bas-
  • Deadpan Snarker: Rick, Evy, and Jonathan all have their moments.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Evy and Anck-su-namun in the first two films. Justified in both. In the first Anck-su-namun needs to kill Evy to become immortal (and then the guards summoned by Jonathan have no qualms about attacking her). And in the second Evy has fought her before in their past lives so she's the best qualified to take her out. Jonathan gets a punch or two in but is clearly outclassed and almost killed. In the third film Evy and Lin each fight Choi.
  • Diesel Punk: Like walking into a stylish 1930s pulp novel.
  • Disaster Dominoes: By Evy in the first, then Alex in the second - proving it runs In the Blood.
  • Disposable Pilot: This happens in the first movie, to the old ennui-ridden war pilot. Averted in the second.
  • Earned Stripes: The Medjai order have tattoos that denote their being part of the order and where they stand in it.
  • Elite Mooks/ Superpowered Mooks: The four palace guards.
  • Fanservice: The likely reason for Arnold Voosloo spending the last half hour of the first part a Walking Shirtless Scene.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being mummified and buried alive along with a bunch of flesh-eating scarabs that proceed to eat you from the inside out? And then cursed so that your soul will never rest? Seems to fit the bill.
  • Finger Wag: Imhotep does this to Alex O'Connell in The Mummy Returns.
  • Flash Back: The films each open up with prolonged prologues to the early years.
  • Genius Ditz: Jonathan is a foolish, greedy, pocket-picking dilettante who functions mainly as comic relief, but he is also literate in ancient Egyptian.
  • Genre Throwback/Reconstruction : Of the classic 1930s Universal horror movies (especially The Mummy) and old Lost World adventure flicks.
  • Godiva Hair: Anck-su-namun in Ancient Egypt. Since she's wearing a wig (all Egyptians cropped their hair and wore wigs) the effect was likely intentional.
  • Guns Akimbo: The preferred method of combat in the O'Connell family, especially Rick.
  • Happily Married: Rick and Evy in the second and third movies, a fairly rare example for a mainstream Hollywood franchise.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The sounds the scarabs make are seriously scary, especially when closing in on somebody.
  • The Hero Doesn't Kill the Villainess: The female villains of Returns and Tomb Of The Dragon Emporer are not killed by the heroes. Meela dies a Karmic Death from scarabs as she abandoned Imhotep and the female villain in Tomb dies fruitlessly trying to save the general from gears. Anck-su-namun's mummy in the first one is the only one to die of direct action and even that was Jonathan ordering the guard mummies to kill her.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: The trilogy is basically a pastiche of Hong Kong Action cinema conventions attached to a 1930s Pulp-Novel, with this genre being the most obvious homage in the first two movies.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: More like "hero's brother-in-law stole my double-decker bus."
  • Hijacked by Jesus: The Mummy Returns paints Anubis as a Satanic figure who buys souls in exchange for worldly power. The Anubis of actual Egyptian myth protected graves, guided the dead to the afterlife and even attended the weighing of the heart against sins, and was a good guy, if not one you'd be in a hurry to meet.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • As Rick lampshades, what the hell was Alex thinking when he decided to go and uncover the Emperor?! It's not like his family haven't had a long history dealing with curses and mummies... does it ever end well?!
    • Beni goes back into the temple for more gold. The place that is now full of mummies, scarabs and a bunch of people with reason to kill him. He is so Genre Blind that he ignores Evy when she points out that people like him always get their comeuppance.
  • Improbable Age: Capt. Winston Havelock is a retired Ace Pilot from the First World War. However the first film is set in 1926 less than a decade after that war ended and Capt. Havelock is visibly over sixty (his actor Bernard Fox was seventy one at time of filming.) Even assuming he joined the Royal Flying Corps at the outbreak of war in 1914 he'd still have been deep into middle age during his combat career. Adolphe du Bois d'Aische, a Belgian pilot who was the oldest known real life ace in the war was his in early forties, still a decade or more younger than Winston would have been.
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Ardeth's falcon, Horus, who is also useful for communicating with the other Medjai.
  • Ironic Echo: In The Mummy, Jonathan needs Evy's help translating a hieroglyph in order to complete a spell; in The Mummy Returns, Alex needs Jonathan's help translating the same hieroglyph in a different spell. And in both cases, the second party is in mortal peril whilst helping. Even better, both of them are under mortal peril from a one on one fight with Ankh-su-namun. In fact, the dialogue is almost identical, barring Jonathan's triumphant "Oh! I know that one!"
  • Jungle Opera: Returns becomes one when it heads into an undiscovered one far up the Nile, the domain of the Scorpion King.
  • Lead the Target: Jonathan and Evy receive these instructions in Returns, and that's all they need to immediately become absolutely lethal snipers.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Jonathan may be a ridiculously greedy, swindling Plucky Comic Relief, but he is also a crack shot with a rifle, a skilled pickpocket, and disturbingly competent with a book of ancient spells.
    • In the first film when confronted by a group of Mook mummies, Jonathan immediately grabs the revolvers out of Rick's shoulder holsters without prompting and empties them into the horde.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: In The Mummy Returns, the Scorpion King's pyramid sinks into the desert after the Scorpion King is defeated. In The Mummy, Hamunaptra sinks into the desert right after Imhotep is defeated, but it's actually a coincidence: it happened because Beni unwittingly pulled the lever to make it sink.
  • Mama Bear: Fuck with Alex at your own risk. Evelyn will not be happy. Not in the slightest.
  • More Dakka: Ardeth prefers the Thompson.
  • Morality Pet: Jonathan's a greedy bastard, but he does seem to care about his little sister.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The handsome Ardeth Bay. Non stop.
    • When Imhotep is first fully regenerated, he's wearing body-covering and very badass black robes. After his travel-via-dust devil, he spends the rest of the film wearing a translucent off-the-shoulder drape and what are effectively Egyptian bootyshorts. Ladies (and some guys, of course), you're welcome.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Anck-su-namun's first appearance is wearing nothing but gold and black body paint and a few strips of fabric. Her second appearance... not so much. By her appearance in the second film, she is right back there again in a series of slinky black outfits.
    • Evy was supposed to be this after the sinking of the boat in The Mummy. According to both the novelisation and the original script, the dressing gown was so sheer that she was practically wearing nothing. In the final cut, the director had another gown edited in at the last minute to retain the rating. In the sequel, she is seen mostly wearing a pair of form-fitting khaki trousers which really show off her rear end.
    • The sparring match, when both Anck-su-namun and Nefetiri are wearing scarcely more than the ancient Egyptian equivalent of gold bikinis.
  • Mummy: While Imhotep fits the more classic depiction, Emperor Han in the third movie is a less conventional example, being incased inside a statue instead of bandages.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Imhotep is most famously the name of the great architect that designed the first pyramid, the Stepped Pyramid of Djoser, and was elevated to god status some time after his death. Given that Djoser and that Imhotep lived around 1,500 years before Seti I, the movie's Imhotep can't obviously be him, and thus, it's more likely he was named after the architect, who'd already been deified by then.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • It's not that noticeable at first, but once you know that the actor playing Jonathan is actually Scottish, you can't not hear his natural accent peeking through.
    • Also, Anck-su-namun seems has a small problem with this in the first half of the second movie, that is, until the real Anck-su-namun gets resurrected, when she only speaks Ancient Egyptian. The creators consulted a historian to make the Egyptian an approximate representation of what Ancient Egyptian sounded like.
  • The Order: The Medjai, whose job appears to be guarding all the potentially world-ending crap the ancient Egyptians left lying around. We mostly only see Ardeth Bey in the first movie (other members are present but they aren't really given lines), but they get upgraded to The Cavalry in the second, so they can Hold the Line against Anubis' army.
  • Parasitic Horror: Scarab beetles can quickly burrow into a person's skin and eat them from the inside out. They are especially fond of human brains.
  • The Punishment: The Hom-Dai curse that turned Imhotep in an abomination was supposed to be A Fate Worse Than Death. But it also gave him immortality, control over the elements and ability to summon the ten plagues of Egypt, superhuman strength, telekinesis, and made him basically invulnerable (unless if the Book of the Dead or greater entities like Anubis made him mortal again).
  • Proper Lady: Evelyn initially, though it doesn't last long around Rick. Made into a Spirited Young Lady in the sequels.
  • Red Shirt: In the first movie, anyone in the expedition that isn't one of the three leads, plus Ardeth Bay. Even more so in the second, where Imhotep's mooks actually wear red!
  • Retcon: In the first movie, the Pharaoh is a largely unsympathetic Asshole Victim, with Ankh-su-namun implied to be driven to her actions by his obsession with her and his possessive, controlling nature. In the sequel the Pharaoh is reimagined as much more kindly and genial (to fit with him being Evy's beloved father in her past life), and Ankh-su-namun is made much pettier and more of an aspiring Alpha Bitch, with the "no one is allowed to even touch her" aspect highly downplayed.
  • Sycophantic Servant
    • Beni, in the first movie, as it's his only way to stay alive.
    • Imhotep briefly acts like one to the Scorpion King in the second movie, though that act doesn't last long.
  • Rule of Scary: Sure, scarabs don't really dig under people's skin and eat them from the inside out... but it's just so scary.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Imhotep was an actual historical figure, though the theory is due to the REAL Imhotep existed long before Seti I, that this one is an Imhotep named by overly ambitious parents.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: There is a lever in Hamunaptra that will collapse the entire city if it is pulled. It is located in the middle of a hallway and can be activated by hanging a bag on it.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign:
    • Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is set in China.
    • The Mummy Returns is a case of Sequel Goes Domestic, taking place partly in the main characters' native England in contrast to the first film's entirely Egyptian setting.
  • Sequel Escalation:
    • The first film was mostly an adventure film in the spirit of Indiana Jones but works on the same level as a comedy. The sequels were still tongue-in-cheek but had more chase scenes and action scenes with entire supernatural armies being raised.
    • Rick's portable arsenal gradually increases with each film: in the first one, it's just a foldable leather wrap with a shotgun, three pistols, some dynamite, and knives, almost all of which is easily carried and used by him. In the second film, his car trunk adds a submachine gun, another pistol, and another shotgun to that. Finally, the third film has him and Alex each set up an entire foldout trunk filled with guns; the Internet Movie Firearms Database counted 16 guns, 6 hand grenades, a knife, a kukri, and a sword between the two.
  • Shadow Archetype: In the first film, Beni serves as one for Jonathan. Jonathan is just as self-serving, capable with languages and greedy, but unlike Beni, after teaming up with Rick he immediately apologizes for having picked his pocket and clarifies that he makes a point never to betray a business partner.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • Evy has this reaction the first time she sees Rick clean-shaven and dressed tastefully after bailing him out of prison.
    • Evy gets a nice little moment for herself after the passenger barge sinks, and she goes native at a Bedouin trading post, switching the Hot Librarian look for clingly black dresses and a sheer veil.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The scores to the first two films reference the Lawrence of Arabia theme heavily.
    • When they first meet and Rick is in prison, Jonathan claims to Rick that he's a man preaching Christianity in Egypt and introduces Evy as his sister (although she actually is). Given Stephen Sommers' reported love of old adventure movies, this is almost certainly a reference to The African Queen.
    • The first film features a location called "Fort Brydon" where Rick and Evy are staying. This is a shoutout to the character of Colonel Brydon played by Sam Neill, who appeared in Sommers' earlier movie The Jungle Book.
    • Dialogue between Ardeth and Rick in the second film references The Man Who Would be King, where a similar exchange is used by Freemasons to identify each other. Here, Ardeth identifies Rick as a fellow Medjai in spirit.
    • When Rick blows up the fallen log that the pygmy mummies are using to cross a ravine, one of them is seen riding half of the log down.
    • And in the third film, the Dragon Emperor turns into a three-headed gold dragon that looks just like Ghidorah. His eventual meltdown is reminiscent of Thunder's demise in Big Trouble in Little China.
    • The "following the shadow of the rock at sunrise to find the secret location of the treasure" scene, the "escaping the collapsing lair" scene and the heroes riding off with a saddlebag full of treasure that one of the villains filled for them scene are lifted straight out of Mackenna's Gold.
  • Sidekick: Jonathan. Similarly, Izzy in the second film, who is a cowardly sidekick who is black (and not, mercifully, a Black Cowardly Sidekick).
  • Spinning Out of Here: In both The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, Imhotep starts spinning and then turns into a whirlwind to travel.
  • Spin-Off: The Scorpion King franchise, which truthfully has almost nothing to do with the O'Connell/Imhotep story other than the titular character sharing a name with the villain of the second movie.
  • The Swarm: Imhtoep has the power to summon loads of these composed of scarabs, locusts, flies.
  • Tentative Light: Present down in the tombs, usually right before something grisly happens to a foolish archeologist and Beni.
  • The Undead: The mummies are a given, but also any of their undead servants count. The third movie adds friendly undead that assist the heroes against Han's Terracota army.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Rick's fighting style, particularly in the first movie. Reload? What's that?
  • Two-Fisted Tales: The series is a deliberate throwback to this style.