Wonder of the World

8 Reasons Why Dark Universe Failed Before It Began


  • The marketing for 2017’s
    The Mummy
    was misleading and featured unimportant details, leading viewers to have false expectations.
  • Tom Cruise’s involvement in the film was wasted as his character lacked substance and did not showcase his talents.
  • The characters in
    The Mummy
    were poorly developed, making it difficult for the audience to root for them and invest in their story.



2017’s reboot of The Mummy was meant to launch a new franchise for Universal called the Dark Universe, but it failed for several reasons and was ultimately scrapped. That came as a huge shock, especially with megastar Tom Cruise in the lead role, fellow A-lister Russell Crowe on board, and a talented supporting cast including Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Courtney B. Vance, and Marwan Kenzari. On paper, Dark Universe looked like a guaranteed success.

The reality just goes to show that, even with a massive budget and big names attached, movies can bomb if the other essential ingredients aren’t right — and Cruise’s The Mummy remake had so many fundamental ingredients missing that it was hard to ignore them all. Looking at the film objectively, it’s easy to see why fans and critics panned it, as well as why the proposed franchise it was a platform for didn’t progress. It may even be one of the most disappointing films of the 21st century, especially since it led to the Dark Universe concept being axed.

Related: The Universal Dark Universe And 9 Other Abandoned Movie Franchises

8 The Mummy’s Marketing Was Poor

The marketing for 2017’s The Mummy was fairly uninspired and substandard in general, but there was one particularly irksome aspect of it. Whether it was a poster, a billboard, or a trailer, it all seemed to feature the eponymous Princess Ahmanet’s eyes, each of which had an extra pupil. It suggested they were important and might grant her a mystical ability, but they turned out to be entirely inconsequential. Viewers were never given a chance to see what these intriguing eyes offered. She may as well have had completely normal eyes. The marketing was terribly misleading in that regard.

7 The Mummy Wastes Tom Cruise

The lead should have guaranteed its success

Cruise an iconic and exceptional actor. Cruise has received three Academy Award acting nominations for Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Magnolia. Although he’s failed to win, that takes some talent. Sadly, The Mummy completely wastes his involvement by having play a paper-thin character with very little substance. He gets little to no opportunity to showcase his charm, and his talents dissolve into an almost perpetual whirlwind of generic action. Considering The Mummy is a Cruise vehicle with the superstar at the wheel, the actor may as well have taken the keys out of the ignition.

6 The Mummy Has Poor Characters

The characters are hard to root for

Despite having the name of the monster in their titles, monster movies rely on great characters to succeed. Jaws, for instance, would be nothing without the palpable chemistry between Roy Scheider’s Martin Brody, Robert Shaw’s Quint, and Richard Dreyfuss’ Matt Hooper. Likewise, Alien and Predator wouldn’t be anywhere near as iconic without Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch and their memorable co-stars. A major problem in The Mummy is poor characters. If Cruise’s Nick Morton is paper-thin, the supporting characters are microscopic. They’re underdeveloped and neither interesting nor likable. It’s actually difficult to want them to come out of the movie victorious.

5 Unfavorable Comparisons To Previous Versions

The Mummy couldn’t live up to its predecessors

Any reboot, remake, or sequel risks being compared unfavorably to its predecessors, and 2017’s The Mummy always had a tough road ahead in that regard. The classic Universal series starring the likes of Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr. and even the horror comedy Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy are widely revered. Plus, 1999’s The Mummy and its first sequel, 2001’s The Mummy Returns, are beloved adventure films. The 2017 reboot doesn’t live up to them in any way. It lacks the memorable characters, the scares, the humor, and everything you should want in a Mummy franchise film. In that sense, it was doomed from the start.

4 The Mummy Has Too Much Action

The Action Overshadows Everything Else

In a movie like The Mummy, action is obviously essential. Without any action, the film would be unspeakably boring — more so than it already is — because there’d be no sense of urgency or peril. However, 2017’s reboot of The Mummy goes way too overboard with its action. It feels like director Alex Kurtzman believes fans are only entertained by action scenes, so it barely slows down at any point during the film’s run. Eventually, that makes the action seem dull. However, it also takes away from several other aspects of the story, like character development, suspense, dialogue, and scares.

3 Its Comedy Is Weird And Misplaced

Tom Cruise tries too hard and too often

Cruise has proven many times that he has perfectly passable comedy chops. 1983’s Losin’ It and Risky Business, 1988’s Cocktail, 2008’s Tropic Thunder, 2010’s Knight and Day, and 2017’s American Made are just some movies in which Cruise has shown his funny side. However, in The Mummy, on the few occasions he engages in dialogue, he tries too hard to be funny and does it too often. It doesn’t work out — not just because The Mummy isn’t a comedy but because the rest of the cast are playing darker or more serious characters and aren’t remotely on the same page. It’s misplaced and falls completely flat.

2 The Dark Universe Is Forced And Rushed

Henry Jekyll should have been introduced later

The Mummy was intended to be the opening installment in a franchise, Universal’s Dark Universe. Everyone understood that, but it didn’t need to be forced down audience’s throats or feel rushed and contrived. To use a common phrase to describe it: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It was, therefore, deeply unnecessary for Russell Crowe’s Henry Jekyll to be shoehorned into the movie as the Dark Universe’s version of Nick Fury. It was even less necessary to see his transformation into Eddie Hyde, which could have been a big reveal at a later time. All it did was take away from The Mummy as a standalone entity.

1 The Mummy Isn’t Scary

The titular creature just wasn’t scary

Arguably, the most crucial factor in The Mummy’s failure — and its unfortunate failure to launch the Dark Universe — is that it simply isn’t scary. A Mummy movie doesn’t necessarily have to be scary. Indeed, the beloved Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser weren’t for the most part. However, when it’s meant to be the platform from which a franchise called the Dark Universe is born, it should feature some classic and appropriately scary cinematic monsters. The movie promised a lot, but it lacked suspense, scares, and an eponymous antagonist who’s remotely frightening. Ahmanet offers nothing in terms of scares at any point in 2017’s The Mummy — and that’s a real shame.

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