With Marvel and DC Comics both having successful reboots of familiar comic book superheroes, it seems that Universal decided that it needed a similar reboot with some familiar faces. But instead of turning to heroes, they turned to their polar opposite: monsters. Universal has already made a few movies with its classic monster properties — remember The Mummy movies and Van Helsing? But now, it seems they're looking for a more modern twist, one in which the monsters are the protagonists. The plan is to have individual monster stories that fit together to tell an overarching story (*cough* Avengers *cough*). Star Trek screenwriting partners Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman were rumored to be working on a reboot last year, but Kurtzman has since split with Orci and is now working on the reboot with The Fast and the Furious' Chris Morgan.
Orci commented on the idea of a "monster universe" last year:
There's an interesting thing that could happen at Universal where they have this amazing library of their old monsters and these kinds of heroes, and the idea of trying to create a universe. You don't want to just make remakes when you're doing a thing, unless it's worthy of being a remake, but when you have an idea for something that can actually be made different and yet be true to what it was. We just had a notion of how to make it modern and have a slightly different tone. It's not going to be just a remake.
Having a "monster universe" much like the "Avengers universe" seems sort of counterintuitive, but there's evidence that it works. In fact, using a villain as a film's protagonist can also make for a more complex and interesting story — just take a look at the success of Maleficent. Universal seems to be going in a similar direction with what might be its first "monster universe" movie, Dracula Untold. From the trailer, the movie seems like it will function much like a superhero origin story, telling the story of how the famous titular character came to be a vampire.
So the problem, then, becomes making these monster movies into a more cohesive unit. After all, it's hard to imagine Frankenstein just casually hanging out with the Mummy onscreen, and it's hard to imagine substantive monster cameos in other monster movies without it just devolving into a cinematic "Monster Mash." But hopefully, screenwriters will be able to create a cohesive universe without having to have every character play a part.
As much as Universal wants this to be their Avengers, it's better that the series of movies stick to "wink-wink" mentions of other characters and brief appearances of protagonists pre-monster. Hopefully, they'll be able to pull it off. After all, this is quite a frightening concept — but whether it's frighteningly good or frighteningly bad remains to be seen.