Although, X-Men: Days of Future Past was not a box office smash and was pretty much panned by critics as well as fans, and rightfully so, it still managed to be a source of inspiration to one man. That man being Alex Kurtzman, the director for the much anticipated Universal Studio reboot of The Mummy. Kurtzman had planned to follow in the footsteps of directors before him and cast a male actor in the role of Tom Cruise’s ancient enemy. That was the plan right up until the director saw the post-credits scene featuring a young Apocalypse at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past and then it was a whole new ballgame. Here’s what Kurtzman had to say about his epiphany in a recent interview with Cinema Blend:
In the interview, Kurtzman reveals his original design concept for the Mummy. “I’ll let you in on a secret. There was a moment when I had sort of rendered a design that I liked for a male version of The Mummy. And in that version of The Mummy, the Mummy had been born with a skin pigmentation that at the time would have made him really sort of an outcast. And I thought it was an interesting backstory, because it began to tell the story of someone who had been bullied, which I found topical. I was reaching for a way to make the Mummy a character who is relatable, understandable, and that spoke to issues that we’re dealing with now.”
But this idea was immediately scrapped when Kurtzman saw Bryan Singer’s rendition of the character Apocalypse in the ending credit scenes in X-Men: Days of Future Past. “I was going down that road, and then I saw the end of Days of Future Past. And they had the character that Oscar Isaac wound up playing as a boy, and it was, I kid you not, the exact same design. And I was like, ‘Oh, man! That is not good!’ And actually it was the catalyst, it was the moment of, ‘Okay, not only is this not going to be different enough, Bryan Singer just did it, I definitely don’t want to go down that road.”
“I had had that voice in my head for some time to make it a woman, and that was the moment where, the minute I saw that post-credits scene, I went, ‘We have to start over.’ I don’t want to mess around even remotely with anything that feels familiar or feels like it’s been done. I have to go in totally new territory.”
Kurtzman’s gender-bending decision to make The Mummy a female character, led to the ultimate casting of Star Trek: Beyond’s Sofia Boutella. In the film, Boutella will be portraying the ancient Egyptian princess, Ahmanet, whose remains are ill-advisedly unearthed by Tom Cruise’s character, Nick Morton.
Kurtzman seems more than pleased with the character’s change in gender, and explained how this fortuitously helped the film’s storyline to unfold and evolve:
“In a way it was very helpful to me, because it made me take that leap. And once we took that leap, the story presented itself in such a beautiful way, such a different way. A lot of the decisions, you spend a lot of time talking to people and you think it through as much as you can, but ultimately it comes down to what feels right. And the minute I allowed myself to let the Mummy be Ahmanet, it just felt right. And that’s the best way for me to say it.”
The Mummy is Universal Studio’s first calculated step in not only resurrecting its inventory of classic monsters but also to bring all of these characters together in a shared universe very much like the MCU. Let’s hope that it comes closer to the intended mark than Stephen Sommers ‘ overly ambitious 2004 film, Van Helsing. No pressure, of course.
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