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4 Reasons "Dracula Untold" Is A Superhero Movie In Goth Clothing

It's the prince of the undead...coming to save the day? The very silly new Dracula reboot is a vampire movie by way of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead!

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1. So, now Dracula's ripped.

Jasin Boland/Universal Pictures

Dracula's had many screen incarnations, but your classic horror movie version is a pasty, widow's-peaked, cape-and-coffin kind of guy. He doesn't get out much, what with susceptibility to sunlight. He could usually do with a manicure. And as alluring as Bela Lugosi's iconic 1931 version of the Count was capable of being, he didn't look a guy who was really into CrossFit.

The new Dracula in Dracula Untold, in theaters Oct. 10, appears to have lived on kale smoothies and protein shakes before he switched to blood. As Transylvanian prince Vlad — "the Impaler" to his friends — Luke Evans (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) spends a lot of time pre- and post-transformation taking off his shirt and revealing an immaculate, blockbuster-standard six-pack that rivals Chris Pratt's in Guardians of the Galaxy. Dracula Untold combines aspects of Bram Stoker's Dracula with the real life Vlad III, the 15th-century royal who battled the Turks, so its hero is a hardened fighter as well as a ruler and family man — an outdoorsy type. He's even got a signature costume — his dragon armor — that he wears to great effect when striding dramatically through crowds, his shoulder-length tresses blowing fetchingly in the wind.

2. And he's a good guy, despite all the death.

Universal Pictures

Like the historical figure that serves as his inspiration, the Vlad of Dracula Untold impaled a whole lot of people on stakes, but he did it in a nice way. "Men do not fear swords; they fear monsters," he says, explaining why he had to make human lollipops out of an entire village in order to discourage others from resisting.

When the movie begins, he's put his dark past as a hostage of and warrior under the Turkish sultan behind him in order to rule and spend time with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and son Ingeras (Art Parkinson). Eventually, the Turks, including his former foster brother Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), come calling for a new royal hostage, but he refuses to give up his son, going instead in search of demonic power before digging out the old dragon armor and destroying hundreds of enemy soldiers.

Vampires make for common heroes or anti-heroes these days, but Dracula Untold is notable and, honestly, nuts in slanting a mass murdering sociopath ("I felt nothing," he confesses about the people he slaughtered in his Impaler days) turned bloodthirsty monster as someone who's just making sacrifices for the greater good and for those he loves.

3. It's your classic origin story.

Universal Pictures

In need of a boost in order to battle the sultan's army, Vlad goes out looking for super powers, and he gets them from the master vampire (Charles Dance), who's been trapped in a cave on some nearby nightmare mountain, waiting for a successor to join him in undeath and, in so doing, set him free or something. The rules are odd and complicated — if Vlad can abstain from blood for three days, he'll become human again and his maker will stay trapped. Though obviously, if that happened, there'd be no legend.

But the scene where Vlad first tries out his perhaps temporary powers feels like a goth version of Spider-Man — he accidentally crushes a rock with his newfound strength, he tries out his now powerful hearing, and he watches a cut on his hand rapidly heal ("That's useful," he mutters). Then he dashes through the woods, exploding into a cloud of bats and then back again — a development he takes remarkably well, all things considered. (A later scene reads like an inadvertent hat-tip to a central one in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.)

Vlad's vampiric powers are meant to be a deal with the devil, bringing eternal thirst and turmoil with them. But Dracula Untold can't help but color them as kick-ass, as Vlad demolishes invading battalions with his vampire speed, strength, and bat cloudiness. The best sequence allows some of his fighting to be seen only via reflection in a sword, and the movie even includes him triumphantly declaring himself "Dracula" now, an embrace of identity that suggests eternal damnation is nothing when you get to look this cool.

4. And it's the possible start of a shared movie universe.

Universal Pictures

Dracula Untold tees itself up for a sequel that's not set in the 1400s, with Dance's character in holding as a future villain ("Let the games begin," he intones, and more than once). But it's not just another movie ending with a hopeful "To be continued" — it's a potential soft launch to an announced Universal Monsters film franchise consisting of rebooted takes on classic characters like Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and, yes, Dracula.

It's Universal's answer to what Marvel's been doing, and while it officially kicks off with 2016's The Mummy, the already-in-the-works Dracula Untold was backed into the project, according to executive producer Alissa Phillips. There are no significant details to link it to the future movies if it flops, but if it does well, it ends in a place where it can easily be tied into The Mummy. And these days, there's nothing more superheroic than a shared cinematic universe.

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