—Behind Leigh Whannell’s Upcoming ‘The Invisible Man’
Once upon a time, the Dark Universe had a bright future. Universal Studios rounded up a crew of Hollywood heavyweights to breathe new life into old franchises like The Mummy and classics like The Bride of Frankenstein to create a cinematic universe of pop culture’s greatest monsters. Unfortunately, these were failed attempts, and for a while, it seemed like the flames were out for good. Until now.
This time, Universal is bringing out their big guns in the form of director Leigh Whannell, who’s set to direct a new version of The Invisible Man. Though he’s not a household name like Wes Craven yet, pretty much every relevant horror film in the past 20 years has had the Whannell touch, including Insidious (2010) and Saw (2004), which many consider his magnum opus. The iconic torture film franchise has since spawned seven sequels — a humble testament to the director’s quietly impressive skills.
In The Invisible Man, Whannell is reunited with horror veteran and Insidious producer Jason Blum. The duo’s past work has proven to be nothing short of gleefully macabre, so this recent move by Universal already shows plenty of potential.
“Throughout cinematic history, Universal’s classic monsters have been reinvented through the prism of each new filmmaker who brought these characters to life,” shares Peter Cramer, Universal’s president of production, in an interview with Variety. “We are excited to take a more individualized approach for their return to screen, shepherded by creators who have stories they are passionate to tell with them.” By not pushing through with the initial interlinked universe of monster stories, Universal opens up the characters to filmmakers who can draw the needed inspiration to craft their own narratives.
In the past, there were a few attempts to bring The Invisible Man back to life. Johnny Depp was once on board to play the eponymous villain, but plans never saw the light of day. The most heralded version, of course, continues to be James Whale’s 1933 original adaptation of the H.G. Wells story, starring Claude Rains and Gloria Stuart.
The Invisible Man is arguably one of the most influential monsters of its time. In Wells’ science fiction novel, the narrative of a man who spiraled into insanity thanks to the corruption of power made for a gripping theme that is still relevant today. However, Rains’ performance onscreen took the story to new heights.
From his signature cackle to his casual catalysis of chaos, Rains’ portrayal could easily be seen as a cinematic forerunner to another horror icon: The Joker. True enough, in an interview on Sway’s Universe, actor Mark Hamill, who voiced The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, credited Rains as his inspiration for his character.
Even outside the realms of film and TV, The Invisible Man’s influence endures. Gaming platform Slingo has since reimagined the 1933 hit flick into a video slot game, in partnership with Universal Studios. It’s a modern spin on the horror masterpiece that allows players to experience the film in a unique way. On the other hand, rock band Queen have their own interpretation, too, having released a song called “The Invisible Man” back in 1989. Though inspired by Wells’ novel, the track goes down a more romantic path, tackling the sentiments of a man pursuing a girl who refuses to see him.
While it’s too early to tell if this new attempt by Universal will fly, a story as gripping as The Invisible Man’s will certainly continue to have a very visible impact on the horror genre and the wider world of pop culture as we know it.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.