At one point not that long ago, one of the several projects Universal hoped to populate its "monsterverse" with was a movie about Frankenstein's monster, directed by Hellboy and The Shape of Water filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. As so often happens with del Toro, though, the project fell apart (he has had so many projects disappear over the years that it's getting harder to even keep track of them all, let alone mourn their losses), and little was known about what might have been. That changed -- at least slightly -- when prospective star Doug Jones described what he knew of the project in an interview.
The movie would have been inspired by the Frankenstein comics by Swamp Thing creator Bernie Wrightson, the original art for which recently sold for a massive amount of money. The design of the monster would have been significantly different from the traditional blocky, bolt-necked take from the classic Universal monster films.
"Guillermo is a big fan of Bernie Wrightson, and a friend of Bernie Wrightson, and Bernie had illustrated a version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and all of the images of Frankenstein’s monster in that, that's what he was going to pattern my look after," Jones told Collider. "Which was more emaciated, little skinnier, little more pathetic looking. And yet, had an unnatural physical prowess, an unnatural athleticness to him. He was sewn together with spare parts of a couple different bodies. Very bony face, long, stringy, drawn hair. I never went through a makeup test myself for it. But I did go to the creature shop, Spectral Motion, who was developing the look for him at the time…I was there for something else, and Mike Elizalde, the owner of the shop, said 'I gotta show you something.' Then he unveiled a head and shoulders bust of me with this monster makeup built on it. It was like, honestly, my eyes welled it. It was so hauntingly beautiful, and it did pay reverence to Bernie Wrightson’s artwork and gave you a different-looking Frankenstein's monster than what you're used to."
Following the failure of The Mummy, Universal seems to have slammed the brakes on their "Dark Universe" concept -- a name that ironically was also briefly the title of an abandoned, del Toro-written Justice League Dark movie. del Toro seems to think he knows why Universal is having so many issues.
"I think that there is a postmodern attitude towards the genre that tries to disarm or disassemble the genre in a postmodern way and I think that when you approach characters with earnest love, it’s a lot less safe because you’re not above the material," del Toro recently said. "You are high on your own supply and it’s easier to be ironic, so I think that’s part of it. But then you have ambivalent things like [Get Out director] Jordan Peele nailing it and making it not ironic, but reflexive. And he’s a fusion of reverence and intelligence. It’s a good year for the genre for sure."