'Underworld' 101: Your Guide to Everything That's Happened Leading Up to 'Underworld: Awakening'

'Underworld' 101: Your Guide to Everything That's Happened Leading Up to 'Underworld: Awakening'

Jan 16, 2012

Our favorite vampire warrior, Selene (Kate Beckinsale), returns after a 12-year slumber to face a new enemy—mankind—in Underworld Awakening, the fourth film in the enduring series about an ancient war between Death Dealers (vampires) and Lycans (werewolves). Underworld: Awakening is the first film in the franchise to be filmed in 3D and captures Selene at her most ferocious. It is arguably the most exciting Underworld yet, but before you dive into this action-packed gothic soap opera you'll need to know who's who in the Underworld universe.

The third film in the series, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, is actually the first chronologically and should be watched first to better understand the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans. Viktor, (Bill Nighy), is the cruel vampire king who forces the Lycans to guard the vampire lairs during daylight hours and do hard labor at night. Although the immortal vampires and werewolves in Underworld have qualities from old folklore (i.e. vampires are killed by sunlight; werewolves detest silver), these are not supernatural beings but instead humans mutated by a common virus. To complicate matters, the first true Lycan able to alternate between his beast and human form at will, Lucian (Michael Sheen), falls in love with Viktor's vampire daughter, Sonja (Rhona Mitra). The fallout from this doomed vampire-Lycan union results in the Death Dealers hunting the werewolves for hundreds of years.

We are introduced to franchise heroine Selene in 2003's Underworld, a one-woman werewolf assassin whose motivation is revenge: she was told by Viktor that the Lycans destroyed her family. Selene believes that Lucian is dead and that her job is to blow away the werewolves that remain, but she discovers that Lucian is very much alive and that the Lycans have a keen interest in a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman). Selene learns that Michael is of a bloodline that will result in a hybrid of vampire and werewolf after being bitten by both—a creature more powerful than either species. The otherwise stone-cold Selene starts to feel an animal attraction to Michael and the two confront and kill Viktor, who they learn is the one that slaughtered Selene's family.

Selene and Michael are on the lam in Underworld: Evolution after the awakening of elder vampire-Lycan hybrid Markus Corvinus (Tony Curran), who tracks them down and attacks them. Selene and Michael evade the elder and have hot vampire-hybrid sex in a warehouse. After a brief, fleshy sabbatical, the new couple confronts an exiled vampire historian/plot device who tells them that Markus is one of the three sons of the original immortal, Alexander Corvinus (Derek Jacobi). Markus was bitten by a bat and started the vampire bloodline, his twin brother, William (Brian Steele), was bitten by a wolf and started the Lycan bloodline, and the third son remained human his whole life and started the bloodline that resulted in Michael. Things get ugly when William and Markus confront daddy, but before they do so Alexander invites Selene to drink of his blood. When the smoke of the final battle clears, Selene is still standing and, thanks to Alexander's potent blood, is able to walk unharmed into the sunlight with Michael by her side.

It could have ended right there, but you guys can't get enough of Beckinsale in that latex costume so the God of Underworld (i.e. Beckinsale's husband and producer Len Wiseman) convinced her to come back for Underworld Awakening, which opens in theaters on January 20. Not only do we find out how Selene was captured and held in suspended animation for 12 years, we learn what became of Michael and that the two of them begot a hybrid child, Eve (India Eisely), unbeknownst to Selene until she is freed from her chamber. Now suddenly a mother, Selene gets aggressively maternal and protective of her daughter in an Underworld that is no longer hidden—humans have discovered the existence of both Lycans and vampires and are hell-bent on adding both to the endangered species list. Selene finds allies in a sympathetic police detective (Michael Ealy) and the vampire David (Theo James). Together they face the human threat and a new breed of giant super Lycans that bark up the wrong newly-awoken vampire warrior mama who here cements her legacy as one of the strongest female characters in film history.

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