Once upon a time, there was Universal’s The Dark Universe. Then The Mummy happened. The end.
Yes, despite more star power than an exploding galaxy, Universal’s cinematic universe built around the studio’s library of classic movie monsters failed dismally after just one entry when the Tom Cruise-led The Mummy reboot flopped hard. Subsequent plans for more big budget blockbuster reimaginings and crossovers got trashed almost immediately. But then came The Invisible Man. The Blumhouse-produced, Leigh Whannell-directed horror decided to skip all the cinematic universe trappings and just make one damn good movie that totally reinvented the classic movie monster for contemporary times. It was a huge success. And now it seems Universal is learning from that lesson as it’s pushing ahead with a new version of The Wolfman with Ryan Gosling in the lead.
Variety broke the news over the weekend, reporting that no director is attached yet, but Universal has reportedly been meeting with filmmakers for the past month already. Cory Finley, the director behind Hugh Jackman’s recent critically-acclaimed school system corruption dramedy Bad Education, is reportedly one of the names in the mix. I’ve yet to see Bad Education (it’s playing on Showmax locally), but I’ve heard really great things so far. And as for Gosling, he’s proven his leading man capabilities multiple times over, so I’ve got no qualms there. This may also be one of the rare times that the heartthrob actor will be the one making the wolf whistles instead of receiving them.
Although never officially announced as part of those aforementioned scrapped Dark Universe plans, it had been widely reported that Universal had been eyeing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to play the titular werewolf monster. Johnson and Gosling could not be further apart in terms of both appearance and on-screen demeanour, so this should tell you how far the studio is stepping away from those earlier plans.
In fact, it’s believed that Gosling pitched this new approach himself. And Variety reports that it’s a very intriguing idea, saying that this new take on The Wolfman “is believed to be set in present times and in the vein of Jake Gyllenhaal’s thriller Nightcrawler, with an obvious supernatural twist.” Ok, what? Nightcrawler followed an unhinged independent cameraman who recorded and sold footage of violent crimes to local news stations and who goes off the moral and ethical deep end to acquire more and more titillating footage. How that relates to the classic Wolf Man story is anybody’s guess right now.
Originally released in 1941, The Wolf Man saw Lon Chaney Jr star as Larry Talbot, a man returning to his wolf-obsessed ancestral home in Wales to reconcile with his estranged father after the death of his brother. While defending a young girl in the village from a sudden wolf attack, Talbot is bitten by the creature (secretly a gypsy man, played by Bela Lugosi, magically transformed in the form of a wolf). Talbot survives the attack, but is himself transformed into a werewolf, going on murderous rampages at night, of which he only retains vague memories. After attacking a local girl he has a romantic interest in, Talbot is eventually slain by his own father who only discovers the wolf creature is his son when it transforms back to human after his death.
Could this new version perhaps see Gosling as some sleazy news guy who covers reports of a wild animal killing people at night, without knowing that he was the wild animal? There was a 2010 reboot already, titled The Wolfman (notice the lack of spacing) starring Benicio Del Toro, but it followed the broader strokes of the original story and didn’t deviate too much. This sounds totally different. The Invisible Man took a very psychological and timely approach to its monster story and became a critical smash hit, so taking the same route here could not be the worst approach. This is definitely a production that we’ll be keeping an eye on.
Last Updated: June 1, 2020