Dracula Untold is in cinemas now, mixing the real story of the historical Vlad Tepes III with the mythical legend of Dracula. Starring Luke Evans and Sarah Gadon, the film is an epic action adventure with a clever twist on the classic tale.
In this post, I'm going to talk about the ending of the film and what it might mean for the future of a potential franchise. That means there will definitely be spoilers. You have been warned.
So here's the trailer, don't read further if you want to experience the film fresh.
SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS HEREAFTER....
I'm not here to talk about the ending of the main plot of Dracula Untold, which is itself quite satisfying and I'll talk about it more in a full review. Instead, this is all about the coda. Here's your summary:
After Vlad takes on his enemies en masse, the film continues with a brief coda. It appears to be set in modern London (though it likely wasn't actually shot there) and shows Vlad walking the streets in a very well tailored suit. Moving through a crowd, he catches a glimpse of a familar face, which is revealed to be a modern woman played by Sarah Gadon - the same actress who embodies Vlad's long since dead wife Milena in the film.
Vlad stops and the two strike up a conversation about poetry of all things, before Gadon reveals her name is Mina. That's an obvious reference to the original Dracula novel where Mina Harker was the wife of Johnathan Harker, who is hired by Dracula to help him handle his affairs in moving to England.
So you might assume this is setting up a sequel set in modern times which more closely follows Bram Stoker's book, and also ties into the notion of Vlad's love being reborn time and again, making for a romantic angle which could make the film more interesting.
That's plenty of set up in itself, but the coda takes things one step further by having Charles Dance show up! Dance plays the Master Vampire who gifts Vlad with the power to save his people in the film, but warns him that if he drinks in the first three days he'll remain a demon forever. But on top of that, Vlad's actions will set the Master Vampire free and Dance will one day call on Vlad to aid him in the great game.
Dance looks up from a table where he's casually reading a newspaper and intones, as only he can, "Let the games begin..."
When speaking to director Gary Shore recently he made it clear that Charles Dance's character was created and inserted late in production, replacing another actor and a second Baba Yaga character played by Samantha Barks. This was done partly to streamline some events in the film, which helps to give it real pace, but also I imagine for another reason.
My theory is that this was a step by the studio to start tying together some unifying threads for a shared universe of Universal monster movies. Dance will be the puppet master, a character who can show up in another coda in a film in the near future as he continues his games. Maybe his ultimate goal would be to create a super group of villainous creatures who could threaten all of humanity. Like The Avengers, only evil...
It's all just speculation for the moment, and will remain so for at least a couple of years while plans for The Mummy and more pan out, but it feels like a possibility, especially given Universal's apparent interest in a closely connected cinematic world. It makes good business sense and it certainly wouldn't hurt if they had an actor of the calibre of Charles Dance on board as their unifying entity.
Of course, as Gary Shore also mentioned, the actual future of a potential franchise depends very much on how Dracula Untold goes down with audiences. My impression is that it will be liked fairly well, and the action and visuals are bound to help. Like Marvel, Universal will just have to commit to a long gestation if they're interested in the final pay off.
Dracula Untold is in cinemas now, click here for our extensive interviews with Gary Shore, Luke Evans and Sarah Gadon, as well as the chance to win some great goodies.