Guillermo del Toro Regrets Turning Down Universal Pictures’ Monster Universe

Guillermo del Toro

Universal Pictures’ Dark Universe concept didn’t reach its full potential. After Tom Cruise’s The Mummy movie underwhelmed at the box office, plans to have the studio’s classic monsters form a Marvel-esque shared universe were subsequently scrapped. However, the Dark Universe may have enjoyed more success if Guillermo del Toro had overseen the project. Unfortunately, the director turned down the opportunity years ago, leaving us all to wonder what could have been.

In an interview with TimesTalks, del Toro said that Universal approached him about creating an interconnected Monster Universe in 2007. However, the Hellboy director had other commitments at the time, though saying no to this opportunity has haunted him ever since. 

“I’ve said no to things that are enormous, and I’ve never looked back,” del Toro revealed. “The only time I repent I didn’t do something was in 2007 when Universal, in an incredibly gentle and beautiful manner, said, ‘Do you want to take over the Monster Universe?’ And they gave me the reins of several properties, and I didn’t do it. That I repent, so this is a confessional moment, I repent.”

In 2007, del Toro was deep into post-production on Hellboy 2: The Golden Army before signing up for The Hobbit (a project he’d later depart) shortly after. While he’s yet to reveal his exact reason for turning down the Monster Universe, one can only speculate that he was too busy with other projects. That said, fans of del Toro’s monster films will be pleased to know that he might have plans for his own Monster Universe.

Guillermo del Toro’s new Monster Universe

The creature in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro has continued to make acclaimed monster movies since turning down Universal’s offer. In 2017, he helmed The Shape of Water, a love letter to The Creature from the Black Lagoon that John Carpenter described as a movie about a woman boinking a fish. As of this writing, he’s currently working on his Frankenstein dream project for Netflix, which has seen him visit some haunted buildings in Glasgow, Scotland

According to del Toro’s producer J. Miles Dale, these films could also be interlinked. “At one time, he was going to do the Monster Universe with Universal — Frankenstein’s Bride, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man, The Wolf Man — and he didn’t,” he told A. Frame. “We feel like Shape of Water was kind of a version of a creature. So now, here he is doing his own Monster Universe.”

Will these movies become part of an official shared universe, or is del Toro merely making films that pay homage to the Universal Monsters of yesteryear? That remains to be seen, but most horror fans will agree that cinema is more interesting when del Toro makes monster films.