Tom Cruise In 'The Mummy' Leaves A Few Questions

by Katherine Cusumano

After months of negotiations, Tom Cruise has signed on to a role in The Mummy , the upcoming Universal remake of the classic monster film. He'll appear alongside Sofia Boutella, the Kingsman actress widely rumored to be starring as the titular monster. The film was originally slated for a March 2017 release date, but this was pushed back when Cruise signed on, making it one of those summer "tentpole" blockbusters à la Jurassic World.

The original Mummy premiered in 1932 with Boris Karloff — the British actor best known for his role as Frankenstein's monster — in the titular role. It's been remade several times since then, and the most recent installment in the century-old franchise debuted in 2008 with Brendan Fraser in the leading role. Universal's stab at remaking the old favorite has been declared by publications from Forbes to Entertainment Weekly to be the studio's grab at an expanded universe of its own, in the vein of Marvel Studios' superhero films or Lucasfilm's revamped Star Wars universe. Tom Cruise might be a sufficiently recognizable face to launch a new franchise (even though he already has one of his own in the recently reinvigorated Mission Impossible films), but his casting still leaves us with a lot of questions.

1. How Will The Mummy 2017 Be Different From All The Ones That Came Before?

This movie has been made and re-made — so what are the filmmakers and the studio planning to set this one apart from the previous? One element that made the latest Star Wars film such a success was its delicate balance of pandering to its fan base with establishing a new narrative, introducing new characters, and setting up a new paradigm for the rest of the trilogy. The Mummy — the upcoming installment — stars yet another white man in a lead role in a movie about a mummy, so how will it evolve?

2. Will Featuring A Woman In A Starring Role Set It Apart?


Bustle previously wrote about how featuring Sofia Boutella, who might appear in the role of the mummy, could alter how the film plays out. Women are rarely portrayed as literal monsters — there's a classic Hollywood archetype that still remains in place in many films that the female characters must be likable — so this could be a game changer for the roles available to women in horror movies.

3. But Will Featuring A Man In The Other Starring Role Set It Back?

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Even with Sofia Boutella as the mummy, Tom Cruise will likely play the leading-man role. Gender-swapping the mummy looks like a pretty bold move on the studio's part (though not that bold, given the massive success female-fronted blockbusters have had over the past year), but will Tom Cruise's presence — a massive movie star and noted white man — hinder that progress? My first impression of the news was that this is a pretty conservative move on the studio's part, and quite a vanilla casting choice. But Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation was also widely regarded as one of the best action flicks of 2015, and of the Mission Impossible franchise, so Cruise is also capable of surprising audiences.

4. Does This Mean A New Frankenstein? What About Dracula?

Universal also possesses the rights to many other old-Hollywood classics: Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man (already slated for a reboot in 2018). As Entertainment Weekly reported, the new Mummy might mean that the studio is preparing for a major expansion into vintage monster blockbusters. Variety has also reported that the reboots of each independent movie will culminate in an "Avengers-style tie-in film," so if there's going to be a face-off between Count Dracula and the Wolf Man, I am here for it.

5. If The Movie Takes Place In The Present Day, What Will The Mummy Look Like?

After centuries of decay, how will the mummy hold up in the present day? And will a contemporary Mummy attempt to depict its monster in a more modern way than the classic desiccated undead figure?

6. What's Going To Happen?

In 2014, Superhero Movie News proclaimed its staff had obtained a copy of the Alex Kurtzman-helmed screenplay. It detailed a convoluted plot with Navy SEALs, suspected terrorists, ancient curses, and black magic. But — as Marvel and Star Wars franchises have proven — these massive reboots tend to keep a pretty tight lid on their plots. Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella are the only confirmed cast members, and IMDb still has not revealed their characters' names, making it unlikely that the entire plot has been leaked. Cruise's addition to the plot leaves questions about how exactly the movie will play out.

The Mummy will be accompanied by summer blockbusters like the new Pirates of the Caribbean installment, Fast 8, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman, and a third Despicable Me (definitely the most exciting option on the list — though I might be in the minority in my minion-love). If the success of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation is any indicator, Tom Cruise might be a strong choice for The Mummy's lead role by his ability to compete with all those titles. But it does leave questions about the fate of the big-budget movie, and how casting one of the biggest action stars in yet another franchise will change the Hollywood status quo.

Images: Universal (2); Giphy (2)