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How 'The Mummy: Rise of the Aztecs' Can Revive The Franchise

2017's attempt to launch a cinematic universe around The Mummy failed, but there's still hope for the franchise.

By Allie Z.Published 2 years ago 5 min read
Image Copyright: Universal Pictures/Marvel Studios

Universal Pictures is likely kicking itself over the poorly-received monster movie universe, AKA Dark Universe. The 2017 reboot starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella failed to wow audiences, along with unsuccessfully creating a universe for them. There are also zero plans to continue that narrative, so the whole thing is a bust.

Fortunately, shelving the property altogether won't be necessary. The solution requires that the studio cease attempts to replicate what Disney has done with Marvel and Star Wars and their expansive universes, but an upside to all this exists.

'Rise of the Aztecs' Potential

Apocalypto (Image Copyright: Touchstone Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures)

Assuming Universal Pictures is willing to gamble, the studio should consider greenlighting The Mummy 4: Rise of the Aztecs. That entry was supposed to go into production following Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, except Universal rebooted the franchise instead. And what's worse is that the fourth installment has some commendable qualities.

For one, Rise of the Aztecs transforms Jonathan Carnahan (John Hannah) into one of the undead. The setup was a curse gets him after he steals an artifact, presumably from a tomb. Such a plot line follows Jonathan’s antics in a way characteristic of him in the Mummy franchise. We all knew his cheating and scheming would eventually catch up to him. But Jonathan’s fate isn’t as grim as it seems. For all we know, the undead version would be similar to Chris Vail (Jake Johnson) in the 2017 adaptation. He could speak with Nick (Tom Cruise) from beyond the grave, making cracks at each other.

Undead Jonathan probably does the same with Evie or Rick. Although, Evie would make the connection more intimate since they have a brother-sister relationship. Then again, it would probably be funnier to watch Jonathan playing off the undead angle, welcoming guests to a new nightclub by pulling his head off his shoulders. Either scenario sounds rich in laughter.

The Mummy (2017) and The Mummy (1999) (Image Copyright: Universal Pictures)

Secondly, the cast expected to appear was a whose who of the time. Jeremy Irons would've played one of the central antagonists in the fourth entry. Antonio Banderas was going to become the next incarnation of the Mummy. Bryce Dallas Howard had a potential role as Alex O’Connell’s wife. And Scarlett Johansson would’ve played an amnesiac woman, presumably a new member of Rick’s group to replace Ardeth Bay (Oded Fehr) since he’s not in this adventure.

The great thing is Universal Pictures can still take advantage of this opportunity. There are hurdles to cross, especially getting the cast back together, but that play is better than attempting another reboot or shelving it. A few changes to the story would need to accommodate the actors for their respective ages.

Next Era In 'The Mummy' Franchise

The Mummy Returns (2001) (Image Copyright: Universal Pictures)

Brendan Fraser, for example, might need to take a backseat from all the action. The actor isn't bedridden or frail, but Fraser is definitely too old to get into heavy fighting sequences like his dance with the mummies in the first movie. Fraser did a lot of running around, vaulting over small obstacles, and swinging weapons at CGI creations during the scene. It was a very engaging performance on his part. Although, we can’t picture Fraser doing the same in a future installment. Fraser’s onscreen son Alex could fill in for him, though.

The actor portraying Alex depends on the era of the story, how many years into the future the writers want to take the story, and what’s reasonable for his love interest. Assuming Howard still plays a character involved with the O'Connell's son, someone in their early to mid-thirties would suit the part. Luke Ford can potentially reprise his role from Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, although he’s not the type of star needed for a successful Mummy reboot. An actor with a more substantial career portfolio is apropos. That said, Universal was correct in its efforts to cast a Tom Cruise type for their revival.

Keep in mind that the further into the future the story is set, that allows Fraser and Bello to be given more grace as ancillary characters rather than the main crew stopping a reincarnated mummy from destroying the world. Evie, Rick, and Jonathan still need to be involved, but they don’t need to tomb-raid like they used to do back in the day.

The Scorpion King Returns

The Mummy (1999) and Hobbs And Shaw (2019) (Image Copyright: Universal Pictures)

One other avenue Universal can take — that might be a risky play — is having Dwayne Johnson return. The Rock can't reprise his role as Mathayus since the past version and the Scorpion King perished, though a future descendant works. Johnson looks different enough from his Scorpion King days that he can pull it off. Partnering him up with Fraser would also be a unique pairing that has never happened. They briefly interacted in Mummy Returns, except not as allies.

An additional benefit to having Johnson play Mathayus 2.0 is the star power he brings to the table. Johnson's upcoming DCEU debut is highly-anticipated, one that fans are talking about for many reasons, namely the fact that Black Adam is in contention to fight Superman next.

Considering how the wrestler-turned-actor is about to be front and center in the second-biggest superhero universe, it would be a foolish endeavor to ignore him. Said popularity will overflow to Rise of the Aztecs, assuming Universal can convince the actor to make time in his busy schedule for the part. Similarly, the door is open for spin-offs that may or may not lead to more movies down the line.

Precautionary Measures

The Mummy (2017) (Image Copyright: Universal Pictures)

The other thing that Universal needs to consider is the studio rushing multiple projects through development is pointless. They foolhardily pressed The Mummy (2017) to introduce Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde without knowing how audiences would respond. There's also the random transformation of Nick Morton into a demigod, which added even more lore to an already complex world without a foundation to stand upon.

To sum up the situation, the studio needs to take the franchise revival one step at a time. Instead of planning to establish a cinematic world of interconnected stories, Universal should work on one movie at a time. And if the executives do things right, Rise of the Aztecs will lead to future spin-offs. The intended fourth entry would make Jonathan one of the undead, so that could segue into a story about vampires, i.e., Dracula. Then, it’s just a matter of introducing one legend per movie.

Stephen Sommers' Mummy trilogy is available for streaming on DirectTV, TBS, and TNT.

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About the Creator

Allie Z.

I cover most entertainment related topics and am venturing into journalism.

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    Allie Z.Written by Allie Z.

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