A return to The Mummy franchise for a fourth installment has been highly requested, but it may be challenging without retconning some of the franchise’s past failures. Overall, The Mummy is regarded as a beloved piece of nostalgia. In the age of reboots and revivals, the idea of returning to Rick and Evelyn O’Connell has never seemed more likely. However, the notorious flop that was The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor has left a stain on the franchise, ultimately making another sequel challenging to achieve without some changes to the franchise’s canon story.

Actor Brendan Fraser has shared (via Variety) that he would be willing to return to his role of Rick O’Connell in a The Mummy sequel, dependent on the right idea. The franchise’s third installment, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, missed the mark with audiences, and this had a great deal to do with the movie’s divergence from the franchise’s tried and true formula. Therefore, Fraser is correct that a fourth installment would need the right concept to remedy this. However, after the plot went a different direction in The Mummy 3, it will be even more challenging for The Mummy 4 to strike the right note.

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Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor Ruined The Mummy’s Winning Formula

The Mummy Tomb of the Dragon Emperor digital Jet Li (1)

Several things went wrong with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Right out of the gate, the franchise made the fatal mistake of recasting Rachel Weisz as Evelyn O’Connell. Though actress Maria Bello’s performance was satisfactory, Evie was far too important to recast seamlessly, and the chemistry that had driven The Mummy characters was ultimately lost. However, this wasn’t the only part of the first movie’s exceptional formula that The Mummy 3 did away with. In fact, it lost nearly every other element.

The first two The Mummy movies followed a similar storytelling formula. They were both set in Egypt, followed a sympathetic yet despicable villain, and depended heavily on the romance between Rick and Evelyn. However, Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was instead set in China, established a one-note villain, and relied instead on the budding romance of newer and younger couples while neglecting the chemistry between Rick and Evie. With the original, successful formula thrown out the window, the campy horror and silly comedy had no foundation to rest on securely.

The First 2 Mummy Movies Sets Up A Better Revival

The Mummy Returns Dwayne Johnson and Brendan Fraser

Going into the possibility of The Mummy 4, there is no longer a dependable formula for the plot to follow. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor muddled up Rick and Evelyn’s story so that a direction forward is no longer clear. Additionally, with such a notable failure, the scrutiny of a revival would be even more intense since audiences will be wondering if The Mummy 4 will be able to redeem its past mistakes.

On the other hand, if The Mummy 3 had never been made and the franchise had concluded after The Mummy Returns in 2001, a modern revival would have a clear path to continue along. Since Imhotep had been the central villain of both movies, he could have easily and nostalgically returned in the newest film, even if he wasn’t the main antagonist. Plus, if Tomb of the Dragon Emperor had never placed Alex O’Connell in such a prevalent role, a revival wouldn’t have the pressure to maintain this and could give him a part that wouldn’t impede Rick and Evelyn’s development.

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Can The Mummy 4 Pretend Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor Never Happened?

Brendan Fraser in the Mummy 3 in an action pose backdropped by Michelle Yeoh in The Mummy 3 glaring intently in a dark cave

The way would be much more straightforward for a The Mummy revival if the third movie had never harmed the franchise’s formula, but that isn’t to say that The Mummy 4 is doomed. Jumping back into the formula of the first two movies might feel strange in a revival. But, given the campy and sometimes fourth-wall-breaking comedy style of the original The Mummy, it may be possible for the franchise to continue without acknowledging Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. Evelyn’s casting could be returned to Weisz, Rick’s character would go back from frustrated dad to badass warrior, and the flavor of Egypt could be re-established.

An even better solution would be for The Mummy to subtly poke fun at itself, and its silly comedy makes it uniquely equipped to do so. Instead of pretending that Tomb of the Dragon Emperor never happened, the characters could just address the elephant in the room. A joke could be made about how Evelyn looked a little different for a while. Or, if Evie perhaps wrote a book about their adventures in China, she could mention that it didn’t sell well and that she needs to go back to writing about Egypt. This way, The Mummy franchise can overcome its mistakes in the most charming way possible.

MORE: Why Rachel Weisz Didn’t Return for The Mummy 3

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