What do Dracula, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster, The Bride of Frankenstein, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon have in common? All of these iconic horror characters are part of Universal Pictures’ family of classic movie Monsters. The latest of these characters to grace the big screen is The Invisible Man, the titular character in Universal Pictures’ latest movie opening at Regal this Friday, 2/28. The Invisible Man represents a fresh, new direction for the studio’s Monsters, one that looks to update these classic characters with original, bold ideas.
With the recent influx of superhero movies, shared cinematic universes have reached an all-time high of popularity and success, but it was Universal Pictures who created the first shared universe in the movie industry, dating all the way back to the 1920s. The studio dipped their toe into horror tales featuring iconic characters with movies The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925), but it wasn’t until the 1930s that Universal Pictures began to establish their core monsters in a series of box-office hits beginning with Dracula (1931). Movies like Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), and The Invisible Man (1933) would soon follow, solidifying Universal Pictures’ place as a leader in the genre and forever etching the monsters' names in movie lore.
These enduring characters embody universal fears and anxieties adaptable to any time period. Recent attempts to resurrect these legendary movie monsters were based in the creation of a new shared universe, but The Invisible Man represents a new direction for how to celebrate these classic characters, a direction that is filmmaker driven and rooted in the horror genre with no restrictions on budget.
These new monster movies will serve as standalone movies, disconnected from any larger, shared universe. For the first chapter, Universal Pictures turns to a frequent collaborator, one that has a history of churning out box-office hits on a small budget—Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.
“I had a meeting with Chairman Donna Langley, and she wanted to reinvigorate the muscle that was exercised so often by the Monsters,” says Blum. “Since we’ve been compared to that era of Universal because we’ve done so much horror with the studio, it seemed like a very natural fit.”
Cecilia Kass (played by Elisabeth Moss) in The Invisible Man (2020)
The Invisible Man deviates from H.G. Wells’ original source material and even the 1933 movie. Writer/director Leigh Whannell felt the focus should be inverted as he was more interested not in the monster but the monster’s obsession.
“It was this off-the-cuff pitch…something that just came right out of me off the top of my head,” says Whannell. “I said, ‘If you were making an Invisible Man movie, you would make it from the point of view of his victim. Say a woman who escapes from her abusive partner in the middle of the night and then finds out that he’s killed himself but doesn’t quite believe it, especially when mysterious things start happening.’”
Elisabeth Moss stars as The Invisible Man’s obsession in what is shaping up to be a drastic shift in the character’s typically storyline. As for the future of Universal Pictures’ movie Monsters, you can expect more bold, standalone stories to come.
The Invisible Man opens at Regal this Friday, February 28th.