Renfield can revitalize the Dark Universe by being its equivalent to The Suicide Squad, with Universal Studios continuing to exploit its renowned monsters in fascinating new ventures. The Universal Monsters have been around for nearly a century and have evolved into a pop culture pantheon of heroes, villains, and even sitcom actors. However, when Universal’s ambitious reimagining of its classic horror films with the Dark Universe failed to fulfill expectations, it called into doubt whether their intended modern monster mash would ever happen.
The Universal Monsters helped to popularise the idea of a shared cinematic universe, and the Dark Universe’s goal was to build a new one while copying blockbuster franchise techniques akin to the MCU’s. Following the underwhelming success of Dracula Untold and The Mummy in 2017, Universal scrapped the Dark Universe’s other spinoffs in favor of standalone horror projects, including Renfield. Renfield’s 2023 teaser promised a fresh approach for Universal, and a more comical take on their monster lore focused on Count Dracula’s famed minion (played by Nicholas Hoult).
Renfield Contributes to a Superhero Film
By stressing over-the-top action, big-name stars, and assembling an Avengers-style team of iconic gothic icons, The Dark Universe aspired to be both a superhero and a horror series. Renfield’s trailer hinted at the elements of a DC or MCU film and the protagonist’s ability to be a superhero. The Dark Universe films ended with The Mummy’s critical flop, but the spirit of supernatural action heroes may live on in Renfield.
There’s a whiff of a superhero origin narrative in the teaser, with Hoult’s supernatural talents bestowed upon him in Renfield by Nicolas Cage’s Count Dracula as he faced off against armed foes. Renfield’s remark about Dracula gaining full power put him up as a possible supervillain as his henchman addressed his guilty conscience and codependency issues. Renfield might not have been the Dark Universe’s visionaries’ first choice. However, its lighthearted tone and the delightfully strange idea could pave the way for a new heroic horror mythos.
The Dark Universe Might Return As An Action-Comedy (Like Suicide Squad)
Renfield might argue that the Universal Monsters can go beyond mere horror movie antagonists by demonstrating a sense of humor. While the original Suicide Squad earned mixed reviews, its sequel, The Suicide Squad, and spinoff, Birds of Prey, were both well-received. The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker’s self-aware style sounds appropriate for a revival of the Dark Universe, with their colorful band of anti-heroes, grim sense of humor, and marvelous set pieces.
Other iconic Universal Monsters could exist and fight in an extended Renfield universe. Characters like a fugitive Bride who wants to be more than Frankenstein’s mate, a half-mad Gillman rescued from a biologist’s fish tank, and Renfield, who relates to them more than he does his former support group, could have interesting dynamics. Furthermore, previous films, such as Van Helsing and 1999’s The Mummy, demonstrated that Universal’s characters fit well within the action genre. The Dark Universe may not have been the cinematic rebirth that spectators expected. Still, the series, like Renfield’s protagonist or the characters of The Suicide Squad, simply deserves a second chance.