The Entire Dark Universe, Ranked

“Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.”

In 2014, Universal Studios announced their ambitious plans to create an interconnected “cinematic universe” by rebooting their classic monster films for a new generation. The “Dark Universe”, as it would later be dubbed, was met with much skepticism, especially after newcomer Marvel Studios tried something similar a few years prior with its films Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, only for both films to tank at the box office. Faster than you could say “Avengers assemble”, the whole thing fell apart, and Marvel found itself practically giving away the remaining film rights of its many characters to various studios.

While Edgar Wright created nothing short of a masterpiece with Ant-Man at Sony Pictures, one can’t help but wonder what it would be like if the pint-sized hero could trade quips with Captain America, who has an upcoming film from Fox. However, where Marvel failed, Universal succeeded. After all, the Universal Classic Monsters films were the first movies to have characters crossing over between titles. Even though many saw the Dark Universe as a risky new direction, it was really just Universal returning to their roots.

While some critics have dismissed the DU’s films as being formulaic and predictable, there’s no denying that they’re consistently crowd-pleasing blockbusters, with some entries raking in billions of dollars. The DU is unquestionably the most popular entertainment franchise on the planet, and it’s only going to get bigger, as Universal plans on releasing several DU shows on its streaming service, Peacock (these streaming series are expected to have bigger budgets and DU characters than network shows like NBC’s Agents of Prodigium). As the DU expands in new ways, there’s no better time to take a look back at the movies that made it the phenomenon it is now. Here’s a look back at all twenty-two of the Dark Universe films so far, ranked from worst to best.

22. The Mummy 2

The Mummy 2 is easily the Dark Universe’s worst film. DU films are known for their balance of action and humor, but it feels like this follow-up to The Mummy (2017) tries way too hard on both fronts. Either everyone’s mindlessly fighting or Tom Cruise’s Nick Mortin is making an ass out of himself using the mummy abilities he got at the end of the first movie. We really didn’t need to see Cruise piss his pants at a party and then use the power of Set to dry it up. The subplot about Nick’s powers slowly killing him is resolved way too easily, and the film’s villain, the Dragon Emperor (played by Tony Leung and based on Jet Li’s character from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) spends most of the film imprisoned after a clash with the Mummy early on. When the Dragon Emperor confronts Nick and his pal Chris Vail (who now also has mummy powers and has been recast from Jake Johnson to Jake Gyllenhaal) in the finale, they almost immediately destroy him. This movie wastes both a perfectly good villain as well as your time. The best thing that I can say about it is that it introduced the Bride of Frankenstien, who would become a key figure of the DU, but otherwise this is the franchise’s most skippable installment.

21. The Wolfman: The Dark Forest

Dark Universe

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

While Dawayne “the Rock” Johnson’s first outing as the Wolfman (aka Lawrence “Larry” Talbot) wasn’t the most exhilarating movie, it was a solid film nonetheless. However, the sequel, The Wolfman: The Dark Forest, was a chore to stay awake though. I can’t even remember who the main villain was. I think he was in Doctor Who, maybe? I guess it was fun to see Lance Hendrickson return as Sir John Talbot, who is now imprisoned after being the central antagonist of the big DU crossover, Gods and Monsters. Hendrickson definitely seems to be having fun playing Larry’s asshole werewolf father, though it’s very obvious that his death in this one is a fake-out. Still, Dark Forest takes itself way too seriously to be enjoyable.

20. The Invisible Man and the Invisible Woman

It’s… more of The Invisible Man, I guess, though this time Evangiline Lilly’s Kitty Carrol also has invisibility powers… and Johnny Depp doesn’t play the titular character. Instead, the role of Geoffrey Radcliffe has gone to Jared Butler, who voiced Captain Jack Sparrow, the Mad Hatter, and Rango across several video games. Whether Universal recast because they wanted to save money or distance themselves from Depp is unclear, but honestly you can’t tell that someone else is playing the character because he’s invisible and sounds exactly the same. There are some fun gags involving the duo’s invisibility, though the best ones are used in all of the trailers, so chances are you’ve seen them countless times before you even watch the movie. The main villain is just a boring mob boss with no supernatural abilities, who’s easily overshadowed by the secondary baddie, a woman with phantom powers. The whole thing just feels disposable, like it’s only meant to be watched once, and then never again.

19. Gods and Monsters: Age of The Scorpion King

Everything that felt fresh about the first big Dark Universe crossover extravaganza, The Gods and Monsters, feels stale here, like leftover shawarma you forgot to put in the fridge the night before. The relentless quipping that felt so charming the first time around just feels desperate in this sequel. If I had anything positive to say about this movie, it’s that the cast continues to have excellent chemistry, though even that can’t save the weird relationship between Dracula and the Bride of Frankenstein that just sort of gets dropped after this movie. Age of the Scorpion King also introduces Lota the Panther Woman and Mord, from the more obscure Universal monster movies The Island of Lost Souls and The Tower of London. Here, the two are twins who initially do the bidding of the Scorpion King, though they later join forces with the heroic monsters. Mord is rewarded for his bravery by being shot to death and, like the Dracula/Bride relationship, never brought up again in the following movies.

It’s interesting to see Dwayne Johnson play the Wolfman opposite to the Scorpion King, who the Mummy has summoned in order to maintain world peace. Johnson previously portrayed the character in The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King, both of which weren’t part of the Dark Universe continuity until the introduction of the Multiverse later in the franchise. This time around, the atrocious arachnid is played by Ralph Fiennes. While Fiennes clearly has the energy for the Scorpion King, it’s disappointing to see that Universal keeps whitewashing characters. It’s not that hard to find an Egyptian actor, people.

18. Bride of Frankenstein

Dark Universe

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

Dark Universe fans begged Universal to give everyone’s favorite femme fatale Prodigium agent a solo movie ever since she first appeared in The Mummy 2, but for some reason she didn’t get one until Phase 4… after her death in Gods and Monsters: Final Conflict. Everything about Bride of Frankenstein just feels too little, too late. The events of the movie take place shortly after The Creature from the Black Lagoon: A House Divided, but it leaves you wondering… why didn’t they just make this right after A House Divided? Sure, diehard fans will understand the chronology, but no one wanted to have to explain to their grandma why Angelina Jolie’s Bride is running around after jumping off of a cliff a few movies ago. I suppose there isn’t that much wrong with the actual film itself, aside from some very rushed CG in the final act (I feel bad for those overworked animators) and an awkward cover of Nirvana’s “Heart-Shaped Box” in the opening credits where the words “hymen” and “umbilical noose” are distorted to make the song more family-friendly.  It just feels weird that the movie wants to play around with themes of human trafficking while also being a big, crowd-pleasing blockbuster. Bride of Frankenstein has some good moments, but overall it just feels a bit confused.

16. Dracula Untold

Dark Universe

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

A lot of people don’t consider Dracula Untold to be part of the Dark Universe canon, even though the events of the film are referenced in The Gods and Monsters and Sarah Gadon and Charles Dance reprise their roles as Mina Murray and the Vampire Master in later DU movies. Perhaps the reason people fail to acknowledge Dracula Untold as the first DU movie is because it was released before the cinematic universe had an official name and cohesive branding, though it probably didn’t help that the role of Dracula was recast after this film. In future movies, Dracula was played by Cillian Murphy rather than Luke Evans, who supposedly had a falling out with Universal. Also, Dracula didn’t have any solo movies after Dracula Untold, only appearing in the Gods and Monsters films and The Wolfman: Endtimes. As a result, fans unfortunately tend to overlook Dracula Untold, which is both a sound foundation for the DU and a decent stand-alone film. It’s not easy to get audiences to sympathize with a character who confesses to slaughtering thousands of innocent people before he becomes a blood-sucking monster, but Evans pulls it off through a really nuanced performance. You’ll have to go out of your way to find this one, since it isn’t even on Peacock with the rest of the DU, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

14. Zi-Yun

It was a bit surprising when it was announced the first female character to get a solo Dark Universe film wasn’t going to be The Bride of Frankenstein, but Zi-Yun, the witch from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor that was originally played by Michelle Yeoh. This time around, the immortal sorceress is played by Meng’er Zhang, in her first feature role, after Universal received significant backlash for trying to cast Scarlett Johansson for the role. I really enjoyed the twist that the yetis Zi-Yun swore to destroy actually were sympathetic refugees, and the militant faction that taught her to use her powers against them were the real villains. Still, it is kind of weird that a film with heavy themes about imperialism, propaganda, and the horrible nature of war has so many humvees and jets provided by the US military in it. That said, while Zi-Yun shouldn’t be immune to criticism, it has been unfairly targeted by racists, misogynists, and many other chuds who desperately need to take a shower, all of whom have decided to make this mostly harmless movie about female empowerment the next battlefield in their dumbass culture war.

13. Doctor Frankenstein

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

Yes, the story of a brilliant-but-arrogant doctor suffering a loss and learning to become a better person is pretty predictable, but this is the film that gave us fan-favorite Igor. Universal rightfully saw that it was kind of problematic to give Frankenstien (the doctor) a manservant who talks funny and calls him “master”, so Igor was reimagined as a more proactive character and a peer to Frankenstein. These changes from the source material were massively needed, and they resulted in the Dark Universe’s first breakout star. Of course, as much as we love him, the film isn’t about Igor: it’s about Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Frankenstein. He’s actually Dr. Frankenstein II, which explains how the Bride of Frankenstein has already been a character in earlier Dark Universe movies.

In fact, the monster that Frankenstein II creates in this movie is based on his father’s schematics for a different monster, who died at some point in the past, and was the husband of the Bride of Frankenstein, who, it must be stressed, was not the bride of Dr. Frankenstein or his son. Anyways, Dr. Frankenstein II makes his first monster in Doctor Frankenstein, and fans have dubbed the creature “Frankenstein’s Monster II” or “Frankenstein II’s Monster”. This version of the monster was established so that he could later appear in Gods and Monsters: Forever War, Gods and Monsters: Final Conflict, and Sam Rami’s upcoming sequel to Doctor Frankenstein, which will not be titled “Doctor Frankenstein II”, but will feature the return of Dr. Frankenstein II. It’s more simple than it sounds, trust me.

12. The Mummy 3

The Mummy 3 was initially met with a lot of backlash when it came out, though the public perception of it has shifted as more and more people have realized the way director Shane Black was trying to play with expectations. The trailers promised the return of Imhotep from the original The Mummy and its 1999 reboot, but the movie itself featured a plot twist where Imhotep was merely a character portrayed by an actor. Nick Mortin (the Mummy) faces off against the real mastermind behind “Imhotep’s” crimes at the end of the film, and its revealed that he was exploiting Americans’ xenophobia by pinning his terrorist attacks on a made-up Egyptian bogeyman. Tom Cruise does a really good job at selling Nick’s post-traumatic stress following the events of The Gods and Monsters, and his grief and paranoia are almost enough to make you believe that he’d later summon the Scorpion King to protect Earth (the keyword being “almost”, as that was still a really boneheaded thing to do). Unfortunately, some fans still fail to see the third entry of the Mummy series as the gem it is, and they continue to be pressed about the “Imhotep reveal” even after the real version of the character made his Dark Universe debut later on in The Mummy: No Way Back.

11. The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The First Monster

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

Is there anything more kickass than an amphibious fish-man breaking free of his amber prison just in time to beat the shit out of some Nazis during World War II? No, of course there isn’t. From the moment the titular creature awakens in a new world after being perfectly preserved in tree sap back in the Devonian Period to the finale where he crashes a plane in the Arctic and is frozen for a couple more decades, The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The First Monster is a good-old-fashioned action flick that never slows down. Even though it’s frequently written off as being “hokey” compared to its sophisticated political thriller sequels, this movie is a really charming love letter to the cinema of yesteryear.

Doug Jones brings life to the Creature’s every movement, while Chris Evans gives the misunderstood beast a surprisingly earnest voice. The decision have the Creature speak was pretty controversial at the time, but if Universal hadn’t gone in this direction, we would’ve never gotten classic lines like “I’m just a kid from the Black Lagoon” and the defiant “I can continue to do this for the rest of the day”. It’s just a really heartfelt underdog story, which also has a scene where Hitler is punched by a fish-man. If you genuinely don’t like this movie, then I don’t trust you as a person.

10. The Wolfman: Endtimes

The Wolfman movies had somehow gotten too stale and serious by their second installment, so naturally the series had to go in a radically different direction if it wanted to stay alive. The Wolfman: Endtimes reinvigorated the franchise with mile-a-minute jokes, a striking neon color palette, and a synth soundtrack straight out of the Eighties. It turns out that Johnson can actually be really fun when he isn’t playing Larry Talbot as the “straight man” in every scene he’s in, and he plays well off of Tessa Thompson’s She-Wolf. This time, the Wolfman is forced to team up with his brother, the cunning Sir John Talbot, and escape an underground monster gladiator ring, where he reunites with Dracula. While the movie spends around thirty minutes as a Dracula movie masquerading as a Wolfman movie, it’s never short on that weird, irreverent humor that director Taika Watiti brings to the table. In a lesser director’s hands, this new approach would have felt like shiny car keys being jangled around in front of a baby’s face to desperately keep it entertained, but thankfully Watiti’s influence never overstays its welcome. The Wolfman: Endtimes is the breath of fresh air that the franchise and character desperately needed to stay relevant.

9. The Mummy: No Way Back

This movie does the impossible and serves as a love letter to three different generations of the Mummy franchise: The original one from the 1930’s and 1940’s, the rebooted franchise starting with the 1999 film, and the Dark Universe Mummy movies. For years, fans have squabbled over which series is the best, but No Way Back manages to get all Mummy fans to put aside their differences by opening the Multiverse and allowing legends to collide. Tom Cruise’s Nick Mortin joins forces with Brendan Fraiser’s Rick O’Connell and the late David Manners’ Frank Whemble (Manners, who died in 1998, is brought to life via CGI necromancy). However, the trio aren’t the only ones to team up, as the Dark Universe’s Ahmanet recruits Imhotep and Kharis from the original movies and Imhotep, Anck-su-namun, and Mathayus (the Scorpion King), and Han the Dragon Emperor from the Sommors/Cohen Trilogy to aid her in her conquest of the Multiverse. Interestingly, all of the actors from the Sommors/Cohen trilogy come back to reprise their roles, meaning that Dwayne Johnson plays this version of the Scorpion King. This makes him one of only two actors to have multiple roles in the Dark Universe (the other being Sarah Gadon as Mirena and Mina Murray in Dracula Untold). While some consider the Multiversal crossover element of No Way Back to be “shallow nostalgia bait”, seeing Tom Cruise and Jet Li beat the shit out of each other as undead warriors is cinema in its purest form.

8. The Mummy

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

While Dracula Untold may technically be the “first” Dark Universe movie, The Mummy laid down the definitive groundwork for the interconnected cinematic universe, introducing key components like Russel Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde and his secret monster tracking agency, Prodigium. By now, we all know the story of how Nick Mortin (Tom Cruise) fused himself with the Egyptian god Set to defeat the malevolent mummy Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), becoming an undead monstrosity himself. We know how this movie took a classic horror film and infused it with action, comedy, and hints of things to come in other DU movies, forever altering the way that Hollywood engineered blockbusters. But what most people forget is just how well The Mummy stands up as its own movie. From the sandstorm in the streets of London to the zombies in the flooded catacombs, this film is just one iconic scene after another. There just really isn’t anything out there like this story about an arrogant jerk who goes through a traumatic experience in the Middle East, which changes him irreversibly and sets him on a path to not only become a better man, but also a hero. The Mummy really is considered a modern classic for a reason.

7. Monster Force vol. 2

Reed Crawley (James Marsden) and his dysfunctional gang of reluctant heroes return for twice the laughs and twice the daddy issues when he learns that his father is a living city and the source of his mysterious powers. This movie, like the first one, is stacked with absolute bops. A particularly favorite scene of mine is when Lance McGruder (Zachery Levi) ruthlessly guns down a horde of ravenous plant zombies while blasting Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind”. The complete carnage and mayhem being set against such an upbeat piece of music is just a perfect encapsulation of the fun, chaotic energy that James Gunn brings to these movies.

Monster Force vol. 2 explores themes of family not only with Reed and his father, but also Shelly Frank (Zoë Saldana) and her sister, Marya Zeleska (Karen Gillan). It turns out that Marya is more than more than a sadistic vampire assassin: she’s a traumatized victim of her adopted father, Van Helsing, who sees her more as a weapon than a person. The message about the family we choose being more important than the family that’s thrust upon us is a really powerful message that’s delivered with a surprising amount of sincerity.

6. The Gods and Monsters

Universal kicked off the concept of crossover films with Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man in 1943, so it only makes sense that they’d bring them back big time with The Gods and Monsters. While we tend to take the Dark Universe’s monsters showing up in each other’s movies for granted, there’s no denying that there was a magic feeling to watching Dr. Jekyll bring the Mummy, Dracula, the Wolfman, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Bride of Frankenstein, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame together on one screen.

Whether the monsters are clashing with each other or uniting to defeat Sir John Talbot and his army of moon-men, the action never stops. Neither do the quips, which are fired at the audience fast and furious. The Mummy in particular gets some great zingers, and his snarky persona plays well off of the Creature’s naivety. Also, the post-credits scene gave us our first look at Van Helsing, who would go on to be the DU’s biggest threat. The Gods and Monsters is a solid movie that carries out such an ambitious concept so well that it almost makes it look effortless. Unfortunately, as mentioned before, they proceeded to put no effort into the sequel.

5. Gods and Monsters: Final Conflict

For being the highest-grossing film of all time, a large part of this blockbuster is surprisingly somber. In the previous installment, Gods and Monsters: Forever War, Van Helsing seemingly succeeded in his plan to use the Possibility Gems to get rid of all of the world’s monsters. There are few big characters who survived that finale: Mina Murray and most of the Monster Force are left to pick up the pieces, along with Dr. Jekyll and the Wolfman, who were both in their human forms when Van Helsing used the Possibility Gems, and Nick Mortin sacrificed his mummy powers at the end of Creature from the Black Lagoon: A House Divided.

There’s a lot of grieving before they eventually figure to ask Doctor Frankenstein to build a time machine, so that they can go to the past and undo Van Helsing’s decimation. The whole “time heist” element is fun, but it’s nothing compared to the finale, which serves as an epic conclusion to the first chapter of the Dark Universe. After all of the monsters are brought back from being disintegrated, they prepare to fight against Van Helsing and his army of corpses, which he has brought back to life using electricity, like in the classic Universal horror film Man-Made Monster.

As our heroes stand assembled before the swarm of the undead, the Creature from the Black Lagoon has one simple command for his teammates: “MONSTERS… MASH!” Just thinking about that moment and the epic battle that ensues gives me goosebumps. Seeing all of these characters you’ve followed for years make their final stand really reminds you why you go to the movies. And to wrap it all up, Nick sacrifices himself by embracing the power of Set one final time in order to destroy Van Helsing with the Possibility Gems. The divine energy destroys both him and his foe as he defiantly states “I am the Mummy.”

Unfortunately, this was not only the death of fictional character Nick Mortin, but Tom Cruise as well. Cruise, ever the daredevil, insisted on actually using a real spell to channel the power of the Egyptian deity Set, which turned his blood into fire and killed him. It was inevitable that Cruise would one day die performing a dangerous stunt on one of his films, but no one could have predicted the exact cause of his demise being “divine wrath”. However, Cruise’s death was not in vain, as the incident was caught on camera and used in the actual movie.

4. Monster Force

When it was announced that James Gunn was going to do a movie adaptation of the 1994 cartoon Monster Force set in the Dark Universe, no one really knew what to make of it. The series, which lasted only one season, was an incredibly obscure property about a group of humans and monsters who used high tech gadgets to fight the forces of darkness. However, the movie was a surprise hit, and squad members Reed Crawley (the leader), Lance McGruder (the marksman), Shelly Frank (the telepath), Tripp Hansen (the muscle, played by Winston Duke), and Luke Talbot (the Wolfman’s brother, played by Dave Bautista) all became household names overnight.

I think what made it so refreshing was that it took a step back from the big, iconic Universal monsters and focused on five scrappy underdogs who were allowed to be petty, argumentative, and, well, relatable. They come together as selfish individuals who only want to save the world because they happen to live in it, and end the movie as a found family who (mostly) won’t hesitate to do the right thing. Also, Monster Force’s soundtrack goes hard, and is stacked with hits and hidden gems alike from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. The opening credits with Reed strutting around an ancient temple to “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest is absolutely delightful every time. Gunn masterfully weaves every song into its respective scene. Also, James Marsden just slays it as Crawley, managing to be both a daring heartthrob and an immature goofball simultaneously. This movie is heartfelt, hilarious, and flat-out weird all at once, and I love it because of that.

3. The Creature from the Black Lagoon: A House Divided

The Creature from the Black Lagoon: A House Divided is less like a third Creature film and more like the sequel to The Gods and Monsters that fans were hoping for. After Lota the Panther Woman catches a grenade and accidentally tosses it into a crowd of civilians (killing 37 people), Nick Mortin decides that the monsters have gone unsupervised for too long, and that they should register themselves with the United States government.

After the revelation about Prodigium in The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Wetland Soldier, the Creature has become weary of clandestine institutions and thinks that maybe being on Uncle Sam’s leash is a bad idea. Things escalate between the Mummy and the Creature when the the Creature’s pal, the Wetland Soldier (brought to life with Andy Serkis doing mocap and Sebastian Stan voicing him), resurfaces and is framed for a bombing that’s killed the Phantom of the Opera’s father. The Phantom takes Guppy into custody, but the Creature breaks him out, becoming a fugitive in the process.

The monster community is split in two, with the Mummy, Chris Vail, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Mad Ghoul on the side of the law, while The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wetland Soldier, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Lota the Panther Woman oppose them (the Wolfman and Dracula aren’t present, as they’re caught up in the events of The Wolfman: Endtimes). The action and intrigue are taken to the top with this one, and the interpersonal drama between these characters we’ve followed for so long just sucks you in.

It’s like watching your parents fight, but instead of getting a divorce, your dad sleeps on the couch for the next few months or until the next Gods and Monsters movie forces him and your mom to form an uneasy alliance against a common enemy. Even though you’re aware that they’re inevitably going to get back together, you also know that it’s not going to be the same, and that broken home you share is going to be held together by the fragile bonds of circumstance. And if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be more healthy if they both just- Oh, I really got lost in that metaphor, didn’t I? Anyways, this movie is kickass. People definitely say that it’s one of the best Dark Universe movies for a reason.

2. Gods and Monsters: Forever War

Gods and Monsters: Forever War sees Van Helsing (Channing Tatum) finally set out to acquire all of the Possibility Gems to annihilate all monsters from existence. The only thing standing between him and the destruction of the Dark Universe is a team-up of monstrous proportions. Not only do we get all of the Gods and Monsters reuniting for the first time since Phase 2, but we also get them interacting with Doctor Frankenstein and Monster Force for the first time. You really feel the monsters’ desperation in Forever War, as they continually lose and Van Helsing gets more of the Possibility Gems, right up until the very end where he just… wins.

I don’t think there’s a better way to cement a villain’s status as a threat than having them just crush the heroes’ hopes left and right before finally finishing them off. Moments like Van Helsing plunging his hand into the Mad Ghoul’s chest to rip out the Possibility Gem keeping him alive (while Lota must watch her lover die) are just absolutely brutal, and it makes it all the more satisfying knowing that the other monsters are going to avenge their fallen brothers and sisters in Gods and Monsters: Final Conflict. Despite all of the defeat that the characters are dragged through, the movie itself feels like a triumph. It’s the true sum of the sixteen DU movies that precede it: the beginning of the end of many of these characters’ journeys. From Sir John Talbot to the Scorpion King to the internal struggle over registration, everything that both the Gods and Monsters and DU fans have experienced has been to prepare them for this event of a movie.

1. The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Wetland Soldier

Image courtesy of Dark Universe LTD., a subsidiary of Universal Studios.

As mentioned before, the Dark Universe tends to dial down the horror elements that inspired it in favor of more action and comedy built around sci-fi and fantasy tropes. However, after the first few films settled the DU into a comfy feel and genre, no one could’ve ever expected that we’d get a political thriller out of it.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon: The Wetland Soldier sees the titular monster finally adjusting to the 21st century, finding a sense of normalcy as an agent of Prodigium. However, his life as a semiaquatic spy is capsized when Dr. Jekyll is seemingly assassinated and it’s revealed that a secret Nazi death cult has existed within Prodigium since its inception. The Creature is forced on the run, with fellow agent the Bride of Frankenstein being the only other person that he can trust. He can’t even rely on Alexander Pisces, Dr. Jekyll’s friend and comrade (played by Robert Redford).

The Creature finds himself further drowning in complications when his old pal and fellow fish-man Guppy Garnes, who appeared to die in World War II, has returned as a brainwashed cyborg that is trying to assassinate him. All of the betrayal and paranoia really change the Creature as a character. While he still holds a sense of determination against unfavorable odds, his trust and willingness to comply with authority figures is absolutely shattered. The Wetland Soldier sets up the Creature’s more rebellious stance in A House Divided, forming part of a multi-film arc that you don’t get to see for a lot of characters in big franchises.

Admittedly, the twist that Mr. Hyde is behind the conspiracy is a bit predictable. It would be too obvious if the filmmakers made Robert Redford the villain, because he’s exactly the kind of actor that the filmmakers would think that you’d expect wouldn’t be the villain, so clearly Redford is nothing but a red herring. That said, the decision to wipe Prodigium out of the DU was genuinely shocking. Ever since the organization was first introduced in The Mummy, it’s been presented as an essential part of the cinematic universe that holds everything together.

It seemed like a constant that would always be a part of the franchise, but The Wetland Soldier is the kind of gritty, realistic film where not much is treated as sacred. Sure, the main character is obviously going to make it out alive, but is the Bride safe? Can the Creature and Guppy ever repair their friendship? What will happen to the network drama centered on the agents working for Prodigium, Agents of Prodigium, now that Prodigium no longer exists? Will the movies ever acknowledge its existence? Clearly, this is a film that gives you a lot to think about, even beyond its end credits scene. It’s so damn good.

By Quinn Hesters

Quinn is a vat-grown living advertisement created by the LEGO Company to promote their products. When he's not being the flesh-and-blood equivalent of a billboard, he's raving about the X-Men on Twitter.

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[…] The worst part of Evangelion: You Can (Not) Adapt isn’t even the movie itself, but the things it heralds. The post-credits scene shows the Emperor of the Angels looking out at Earth from the Moon and announcing that he has a secret weapon before the camera cuts to Kaworu (played by that other Stranger Things kid) standing beside him. This isn’t just a tease for a sequel, but a threat that there’s absolutely more to come. In fact, Netflix recently announced that You Can (Not) Adapt is only the first installment in an Evangelion trilogy and that they’re already at work creating spin-off movies and series to create a cinematic universe, like Universal Studios’ wildly successful Dark Universe. […]

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