Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

Best actor. Wildly pornographic for its time. And heart of a cinematic universe.

Released in 1932, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had 8 minutes removed before being released to the public. Theaters thought it was too sexual. Check out this scene where Dr. Jekyll and the bar singer retreat to her room after he saves her from a mugging.

As for Mr. Hyde, he's not the Hulk-like figure he's come to be. He's really just a normal guy. Who's a complete sack of shit. And looks like an ape.

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While he doesn't look like The Hulk, the two clearly have a lot of parallels. They're both good-hearted scientists who can't control transforming into their worst self. Portraying the protagonist as a regular guy with a fatal—a super-powered flaw—is a theme that runs through these classic horror films. By focusing on the villains—Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, and coming up: The Mummy and The Invisible Man—as the main characters of the story, the audience can relate to and empathize with them.

The more I think about these movies, the more I see how closely they mirror the Marvel Cinematic Universe—humanized characters with super-human abilities. Unlike Marvel, however, we're following the villains rather than the heroes. 

Beginning with Dracula in 1931, Universal began production on a slate of monster movies. While these characters and actors would sometimes reprise their roles, the overall narrative between the movies wasn't always connected (unlike Marvel.) However, it was common for them to share a many of the same actors. For example, Bela Lugosi, who plays Dracula, later plays Ygor in The Ghost of Frankenstein and the monster in Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.

Later this year Universal is releasing The Mummy staring Tom Cruise. And, spoiler alert, Gerard Butler will be playing Dr. Jekyll in it. Now, I don't know if he will transform into Hyde in that movie, but this will be the beginning of Universal's Monster Movie Universe. Seeing how these films have been pivotal in the history or film, and close to Universals heart, I'm really excited to see what they do with it. And, just as in Marvel's proven formula, the characters aren't unstoppable, unreliable gods like Superman and Wonder Woman, but they're flawed who struggle with their powers. Only now we'll be following the villains.


Listen to our discussion of Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on:
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