In “The Mummy Returns,” Rick, Evie, Alex, and Jonathan are one big happy family, enjoying crazy adventures and their shared love of treasure hunting, but in “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” the family has become estranged. Jonathan is living in Shanghai, where he’s opened a club with his earnings from the enormous diamond he stole as they flew away from Ahm Shere at the end of “The Mummy Returns.”
When Rick and Evie arrive in Shanghai with the Eye of Shangri-La, they discover that Alex is on a dig in China with his archeology professor Roger Wilson (David Calder), a treasure hunter Rick knows. Rick is angry that Alex went on an archeological dig, leading to a huge find, without telling them. Rick is also frustrated that they only hear from him when he needs money. Alex complains they “haven’t been a family for a long time.” It’s painfully obvious the dynamic has shifted — Alex is trying to become his own man, and there’s an underlying tension between Rick and his son.
Evie makes veiled comments about Rick not showing an interest in Alex’s life, which is surprising because of how close they were in “The Mummy Returns.” Mummy Fandom suggests Alex and Rick’s relationship changed when Alex joined the U.S. Air Force, but without supporting sources this is conjecture. Regardless of what caused the rift, by the end of “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” the O’Connells have reconciled. After all, the family that battles undead armies sticks together.