Well, at least X-Men: Apocalypse was good for something. According to a recent interview, The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman originally planned on keeping a male version of the eponymous villain for the Universal Monsters reboot, but changed his mind after seeing the post-credits scene featuring a young Apocalypse at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Here’s what Kurtzman told Cinema Blend:
I was going down that road, and then I saw the end of Days of Future Past. And they had the character that Oscar Isaac wound up playing as a boy, and it was, I kid you not, the exact same design. And I was like, ‘Oh, man! That is not good!’ And actually it was the catalyst, it was the moment of, ‘Okay, not only is this not going to be different enough, Bryan Singer just did it, I definitely don’t want to go down that road.’
I had had that voice in my head for some time to make it a woman, and that was the moment where, the minute I saw that post-credits scene, I went, ‘We have to start over.’ I don’t want to mess around even remotely with anything that feels familiar or feels like it’s been done. I have to go in totally new territory.’
As we now know, Kurtzman decided to make The Mummy into a female character, to be played by Star Trek: Beyond’s Sofia Boutella. Boutella will be playing Ahmanet, an ancient Egyptian princess whose remains Tom Cruise’s Nick Morton ill-advisedly unearths in the film, unleashing a “malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.”
Kurtzman seems happy with the change, explaining how the villain shift helped unlock the story for him:
In a way it was very helpful to me, because it made me take that leap. And once we took that leap, the story presented itself in such a beautiful way, such a different way. A lot of the decisions, you spend a lot of time talking to people and you think it through as much as you can, but ultimately it comes down to what feels right. And the minute I allowed myself to let the Mummy be Ahmanet, it just felt right. And that’s the best way for me to say it.
The Mummy has an immense amount of pressure on it, not only as a good, old-fashioned blockbuster film with a huge budget, but as the first film in what Universal is hoping will become a MCU-like shared cinematic universe.
Frankly, Boutella, who was a highlight in both Star Trek and Kingsman: The Secret Service, is one of my chief reasons for wanting to see this movie. And I think we can all agree that we don’t want another redundant, boring Apocalypse-type villain on our hands. Between this very conscious decision to separate its villain from so many of the recent big-screen baddies, as well as its more practical effects, The Mummy is potentially poised to have a fresh sense of consequence that X-Men: Apocalypse couldn’t manage.