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As we see in The Mummy Returns (2001), Evelyn Carnahan is the reincarnation of Princess Nefertiri, who is Seti I's daughter and the rival of Anck-Su-Namun. However, in the first film The Mummy (1999), the resurrected Imhotep fixated on Evelyn, apparently believing her to be the physical reincarnation of his lover Anck-Su-Namun. I understand the mix-up from a production standpoint, but I'm looking for an in-universe explanation.

Why did Imhotep believe Evie to be Anck-Su-Namun reincarnated instead of Nefertiri?

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    You try being buried alive and spending a few thousand years slowly decomposing and see how well your memory stands up. Hell, I can barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday. . . – Paul Jun 13 '17 at 19:35
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    Someone has been watching CinemaSins... Anyway, have you ever had a moment when you said "this is the girl" (or the boy, or the porcupine) only to find later that you were wrong? :-p – SJuan76 Jun 13 '17 at 20:02
  • @SJuan76 are you proposing a new tag? :) "seen-on-cinema-sins" – Paul Jun 13 '17 at 20:02
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Imhotep doesn't believe Evie to be the reincarnation of Anck-Su-Namun. In fact, Imhotep raised the mummy of Anck-Su-Namun using the Book of the Dead while Evie was still alive, so it's impossible for Evie to be the reincarnation of her. You are correct that he appears to have fixated on Evie, but it's because Evie resurrected him, and he appears to believe she is the perfect sacrifice to restore Anck-Su-Namun to her former glory.

EVELYN: In the necropolis, when I saw him, - alive,... walking, he called me Anck-su-namun. And then in Mister Burns' quarters he tried to kiss me.

CURATOR: It is because it was you who read from the Book. He has chosen you to be the human sacrifice needed to regenerate the body of Anck-su-namun.

(Mummy, The Script at IMSDb)

Also, a viewing of The Mummy only and not the sequel doesn't support the idea of reincarnation at all. We see spirits come up from and go back down into the waters in Hamunaptra, or, at the end, be taken away by the chariot. They can't both do that and be born again into other bodies.

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    in Egyptian mythology each person splits into multiple spirits when they die (Ba and Ka as I recall). The Ba was the soul which moved on to the afterlife and could be reincarnated, while the Ka was more like the “consciousness” which would remain on the material world (similar to a ghost, but they could eat the food and stuff left in the tomb) making it possible to both leave a spirit and have one reincarnated. – Paul Jan 31 '18 at 11:38
  • Further, since the Magic part is less well known to us,it’s possible that the rite to raise someone using that magic could reinfuse the original Ba and Ka into an existing vessel, making it likewise possible that the Ka reanimated the body while the magic is still working on bringing the Ba in. Just sayin’ – Paul Jan 31 '18 at 11:41
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Well, in my logic, Imhotep could have at least recalled Evie to look exactly like Nefertiri. He was there during the weapon fight scene Nerfertiri had with Anck-Su-Namun in The Mummy Returns. But when he called Evie "Anck-Su-Namun" when he first saw her, I had a feeling it is his way of remembering how Nefertiri always made Anck-Su-Namun feel inferior. And the feeling of never being number one during the Pharoah's era was not fair for her. Thus, maybe by sacrificing a Nefertiri look alike to bring back Anck-Su-Namun, Imhotep could say he avenged his lover's pride and glory.

  • I'll give this a +1 because it does touch upon what the other answer suggests, which is that he was thinking of Anck-Su-Namun when he said it... not necessarily thinking she WAS his old girlfriend. Also - welcome to SciFi SE! – Omegacron Sep 15 '18 at 3:38
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Purely using the first film and not the second for this answer, but I thought the in universe explanation was Burns was almost blind. You can see exactly how blurry things were for him in the corridor, after his glasses were broken when Beni stood on them, and before Imhotep took his eyes and tongue.

Because Imhotep loved Anck-Su-Namun so much, combined with a blurry female figure with dark hair, he initially thought it was Anck-Su-Namun and hoped she had come for him. Upon regenerating and his eyesight being restored, he later realises it was not who he though and he will need a human sacrifice to resurrect Anck-Su-Namun. It seemed fitting to Imhotep that the person who brought him back should also be the one who brings back Anck-Su-Namun

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