Invisible Man (film series)

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

The Invisible Man
Original workFilm
Films and television

The Invisible Man is a film series by Universal Pictures. The series consists of The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman, Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man's Revenge and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man. The film series borrows elements from H. G. Wells's novel The Invisible Man, but focus primarily on the aspect of a serum that causes one to go invisible and other side-effects from it.

The series has been described as fragmented, with very films in the series being connected, unlike other Universal series of the era, such as Frankenstein and The Mummy. Some films in the series attempt to connect to the film through characters who were related to Griffin in The Invisible Man Returns and Invisible Spy while other films in the series bare no relation to the original film outside a plot involving a mad scientist and someone who becomes invisible by their experiments. Retrospective critics and film historians have commented that other films in the series borrow stories from previous films such as The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Man's Revenge and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man having the same stories as Charlie Chan in London, The Walking Dead and The Invisible Man's Revenge respectively.


Universal's The Invisible Man film series includes The Invisible Man, The Invisible Man Returns, The Invisible Woman, Invisible Agent, The Invisible Man's Revenge and Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man.[1] Film historian Ken Hanke described "The Invisible Man series as one of Universal's "most fragmented series".[1] The authors of Universal Horror wrote that attempts at connected the series to the first film "proved awkward" unlike Universal's The Mummy and Frankenstein series.[2] Examples of these connections include The Invisible Man Returns where the character Geoffrey Radcliffe (Vincent Price) receives the invisibility formula from Dr. Frank Griffin (John Sutton), a relative of Jack Griffin from the first film and Invisible Spy where Frank Raymond is the grandson of Jack Griffin.[3][4] In The Invisible Man's Revenge, the screenplay does not connect Robert Griffin with the previous Griffins who either created, understood, and or operated with the invisibility formula.[5]

Some films in the series were described as being re-writes of previous films. Hanke described The Invisible Man Returns's story being "more than slightly similar" to the 1934 film Charlie Chan in London.[4] In Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction, a review stated that the Invisible Man's Revenge was basically a rewrite of the 1936 film The Walking Dead.[6] Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man was described by the authors of Universal Horrors as being a semi-remake of The Invisible Man Returns with the title character rewritten as a boxer framed for murder.[7] Hanke described The Invisible Woman as being "curious offshoot" of the series, being directed by A. Edward Sutherland who specialized in comedy films.[8]


Following the success of Dracula, Richard L Schayer and Robert Florey suggested to Universal Pictures that an adaptation of H.G. Wells's The Invisible Man as early as 1931.[9] Though promoted as being based on of H.G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man, the screenplay only follows the basics of the original novel.[1] After going through several potential directors, including Florey, Cyril Gardner, E. A. Dupont, with James Whale eventually being chosen.[9] [10] Shooting of the film began on June 1933 and concluded in late August[11]

Universal Pictures first announced the development of The Invisible Man Returns in March 1939, around the time Son of Frankenstein was performing well at the box office.[12] Hanke described the film's story being "more than slightly similar" to the 1934 film Charlie Chan in London.[4] Though not a horror film, The Invisible Woman was originally written as a more serious horror film, about a mad scientist turning a woman invisible.[13][8] The story was then passed on to Robert Lees and Fred Naldo who specialized in comedy.[13] Gertrude Purcell, who had written the screenplay for the western comedy Destry Rides Again was hired to add a woman's perspective on the story.[13]

Invisible Agent was announced under the title The Invisible Spy in early 1942.[14] Universal first announced the plan for The Invisible Man's Revenge on June 10, 1943 with the hopes of having Claude Rains performing in the lead.[15] Actor Jon Hall who was Frank "Raymond" Griffin in Invisible Agent now portrays Robert Griffin, a killer who seeks revenge on men who framed him.[6] A retrospective review in Phil Hardy's book Science Fiction commented that the film was basically a rewrite of the 1936 film The Walking Dead.[6]

Prior to the first day of shooting The Invisible Man's Revenge, Universal's attorneys made a deal with H. G. Wells for the rights to make two more Invisible Man sequels between July 1943 and October 1951.[16] Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man was described by the authors of Univeral Horrors as being a semi-remake of The Invisible Man Returns with the title character rewritten as a boxer framed for murder.[7] Several lines of dialog from The Invisible Man Returns and some special effects were reused in the film.[7]


The Invisible Man The Invisible Man Returns The Invisible Woman Invisible Agent The Invisible Man's Revenge Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man Ref(s)
Director James Whale Joe May A. Edward Sutherland Edwin L. Marin Ford Beebe Charles Lamont [9][17][18][14][19][20]
Producers Carl Laemmle, Jr. N/A N/A N/A Ford Beebe Howard Christie
Screenwriters R.C. Sherriff Lester K. Cole, Curt Siodmak Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, Gertrude Purcell Curt Siodmak Bertram Millhauser Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant
Cinematographer Arthur Edeson Milton Krasner Elwood Bredell Les White Milton Krasner George Robinson
Editors Ted Kent Frank Gross Edward Curtiss Saul A. Goodkind Virgil Vogel
Visual Effects Supervisor Frank D. Williams John P. Fulton John P. Fulton and John Hall John P. Fulton David S. Horsley


In his book The Monster Movies of Universal Studios, James L Neibaur commented on the series stating that outside the 1933 film The Invisible Man, "none of its sequels were particularly impressive" finding the The Invisible Man's Revenge "average", The Invisible Woman "amusing" and Invisible Agent benefitting from the appearance of Peter Lorre in the cast, and The Invisible Man's Revenge "pedestrian".[21][22]

Three films in the series led to Academy Award nominations for Best Special Effects.[23] These included John P. Fulton, Bernard B. Brown and William Hedgcock for The Invisible Man Returns, Fulton and John Hall for The Invisible Woman, and Fulton and Brown for Invisible Agent.[23]

Reboot series (2020–present)[edit]

The Invisible Man
Directed by
Produced by
Screenplay by
Music byBenjamin Wallfisch (1)
Edited byAndy Canny (1)
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
Running time
125 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million
Box office$124.5 million

Development of a new The Invisible Man film began as early as 2006 when David S. Goyer was hired to write the screenplay.[24] Goyer remained attached to the project as late as 2011, with little to no further development on the film.[25]

In February 2016, the project was announced to be revived as part of Universal's cinematic universe, intended to consist of their classic monsters. Johnny Depp was cast as the titular character, with Ed Solomon writing the screenplay.[26] The film was set to be part of Universal Pictures' modern-day reboot of their Universal Monsters, called Dark Universe. The would-be series of films was set to begin with The Mummy and followed by a remake of Bride of Frankenstein in 2019. In 2017, The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman stated that fans should expect at least one film per year in the shared film universe.[27] However, once The Mummy was released to negative critical reception and box office returns deemed by the studio as insufficient, changes were made to the Dark Universe to focus on individual storytelling and move away from the shared universe concept.[28]

In January 2019, Universal announced that all future movies film on their horror characters would focus on standalone stories, avoiding inter-connectivity.[29] Successful horror film producer Jason Blum, founder of production company Blumhouse Productions,[30] had at various times publicly expressed his interest in reviving and working on future installments within the Dark Universe films. The Invisible Man was set to be written and directed by Leigh Whannell, and produced by Blum, but would not star Depp as previously reported.[31]

On February 22, 2020, during an interview with Cinemablend's ReelBlend Podcast, Whannell stated that the film was never planned to be part of any cinematic universe, including the Dark Universe.[32] He stated,

"It was weird, this film came about in a really random way. It wasn't like I was plugged into some kind of worldbuilding. I had just finished Upgrade, they called me in for a meeting with some of these Universal and Blumhouse execs… I go to this meeting, and they didn't really talk about Upgrade. I mean, they said they liked it and they moved on. So, I'm sitting on this couch thinking, 'What am I here for? What is this meeting about?' And they started talking about The Invisible Man."[32]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
The Invisible Man 91% (344 reviews)[33] 71 (357 reviews)[34] B+[35]
  • The Invisible Man (2020)
    Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister Alice, their childhood friend and her ex-husband James, and their teenage daughter Sydney. But when Cecilia's abusive ex-boyfriend commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax; as a series of eerie coincidences turn lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia's sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

In November 2019, it was announced that a spin-off film centered around the female counterpart to Invisible Man was in development. Elizabeth Banks was set to star in, direct, and produce a new adaptation of The Invisible Woman (1940), based on her own original story pitch. Erin Cressida Wilson will write the script for the reboot of the female monster, while Max Handelman and Alison Small will serve as producer and executive producer, respectively.[36] Banks was allowed to choose a project by Universal Pictures from the roster of Universal Monsters, ultimately choosing The Invisible Woman.[37]

Derivative works[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Hanke 2014, p. 71.
  2. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 86.
  3. ^ "The Invisible Agent". American Film Institute. Retrieved July 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Hanke 2014, p. 73.
  5. ^ Hanke 2014, p. 120.
  6. ^ a b c Hardy 1984, p. 114.
  7. ^ a b c Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 214.
  8. ^ a b Hanke 2014, p. 74.
  9. ^ a b c Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 78.
  10. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 79.
  11. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 81.
  12. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 208.
  13. ^ a b c Neibaur 2017, p. 76.
  14. ^ a b Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 294.
  15. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 401.
  16. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 405.
  17. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 207.
  18. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 237.
  19. ^ Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 400-401.
  20. ^ "Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  21. ^ Neibaur 2017, p. 119.
  22. ^ Neibaur 2017, p. 120.
  23. ^ a b Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 583-584.
  24. ^ Billington, Alex (December 12, 2008). "David S. Goyer Directing The Invisible Man Before Magneto". Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  25. ^ "David S. Goyer's 'Invisible Man' Remake Is Still Alive". Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  26. ^ Fleming, Mike, Jr. (2016-02-10). "Johnny Depp To Star In 'The Invisible Man' At Universal". Deadline. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  27. ^ "Alex Kurtzman says monster movie fans should get one Dark Universe film a year". 6 June 2017. Archived from the original on 10 November 2017. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
  28. ^
  29. ^ ‘Invisible Man’ Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal’s Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)
  30. ^ Cunningham, Todd (July 20, 2014). "Blumhouse Signs 10-Year Production Deal With Universal Pictures". The Wrap. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b Mahmoud, Sarah El (February 22, 2020). "The Invisible Man Was Never Considered A Part Of The Dark Universe, Leigh Whannell Reveals". Cinemablend.
  33. ^ "The Invisible Man (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  34. ^ "The Invisible Man (2020) Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on March 28, 2020.
  35. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  36. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 26, 2019). "Elizabeth Banks to Direct, Star in Invisible Woman for Universal". Variety. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  37. ^ Donnelly, Matt (2020-02-11). "Hollywood Still Trying to Put a Ring on Universal's 'Bride of Frankenstein' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2020-02-24.