John Landis Reacts to Universal’s Dark Universe, Says He’s Bored With Marvel Movies
As the guy behind An American Werewolf in London, one of the most widely adored monster movies in the genre’s gloriously ignoble history, people care what John Landis has to say about the state of the American studio creature feature. The current talking point du jour is Universal’s connected franchise of Dark Universe monster movies, a planned network of seven interlocking films featuring their most famed ghouls. This past weekend, their flagship entry The Mummy gave a mixed performance at the box office, mustering up a paltry $32 million domestically, but giving star Tom Cruise his biggest global opening of all time. It’s an embarrassment at home but a smash abroad, and Landis has some thoughts on the matter.
In an interview with Irish publication Entertainment.ie, the esteemed director spoke about Universal’s big storytelling gambit and other connected universes. And surprise surprise, he’s got his doubts. After the interviewer had to explain to Landis that $32 million is actually a pretty bad showing, the filmmaker aired his grievances:
First of all, it’s not a new idea. If you remember with Universal back in the ‘40s, once they made all their classics, they started cross-pollinating. House of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf-Man - you know what they used to call those? Monster rallies! (laugh) And then of course, one of the great ironies is what was considered… OK - it’s over now!… was Abbot & Costello Meets Frankenstein, which is actually a very funny movie and very respectful of the monsters. I think, y’know, maybe that’s one of the problems with Universal’s Dark Universe is that it isn’t respectful of the monsters. Y’know, when they want to reinvent and sometimes it works great - look at David Cronenberg’s The Fly or John Carpenter’s The Thing. It can be done.
Then Landis pivoted to another cinematic universe:
I’m just… truthfully, I’m bored s—less with the Marvel Universe now. All the superhero movies tend to be interchangeable, you always have these mass destruction of cities and huge computer-generated extravaganzas to the point where you could take a reel from any of the Marvel superhero movies and put it any of the others and nobody would notice. They’re very well-made, it’s just they’re the same thing over and over again. But, I don’t know, people are showing up. One of the reasons Wonder Woman has been received so well by the critics is that it doesn’t destroy cities! (laughs) Even the superhero stuff is on a very human scale, it’s the gods! We’re not seeing skyscrapers tumbling!
Truer words were seldom spoken! Landis recognizes that the remake is not an intrinsically evil concept, but only when executed without proper attention and creativity. Neat to know the man’s a fan of Wonder Woman, though.