Even if you’ve been an X-Men movie fan your entire life, trust me: you are not prepared to see Professor X and Wolverine throw a bunch of F-bombs at each other when Logan hits theaters this weekend. It’s truly unlike any superhero movie that Fox has put out before, and fans will almost totally dig (much like we did) the complexity and drama — and all the kick-ass stunts — inherent in Hugh Jackman’s final curtain call as the beloved character.
While speaking to Nerdist during a press event, producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker revealed that they didn’t get very much backlash from the studio for daring to take such a strong risk with their latest Wolverine film. In fact, it was encouraged.
“I think there were people around the production who probably felt a level of anxiety, but this has been a desire of ours for a while, even honestly going back to my time at the studio, to push the character to be a little bit more gritty, a little bit more grounded, and a little bit edgier.” said Parker. Even the current studio executives were on board: “there was a very clear belief that Wolverine needed to evolve to this place, that it was the right next step in the evolution of telling his story.”
Logan is singularly unique among superhero stories, true, but it’s also the latest film to follow a recent trend within the X-Men franchise of mature, character-driven projects; before this there was Deadpool (although “mature” may depend on your definition of the term, there) and, more recently, FX’s Legion series, both of which also premiered to intense critical acclaim. According to Kinberg, this shift in perspectives was deliberate, and came mostly as a result of allowing these individual filmmakers to approach their work on their own terms.
“Who we got for each of these projects came from a desire to push the envelope on what these kinds of movies can do,” Kinberg said. “We felt not just a responsibility but an opportunity to differentiate what Fox is doing with their Marvel properties to what everyone else is doing with their comic book films, and that means, for us, making them more character driven, more dramatic, edgier, and each of them are radical and distinct from each other and from other movies that are out there.“
“So as much as Deadpool is R-rated and Logan is R-rated, they couldn’t be more different from each other,” he continued. “Deadpool is a fun, completely wacky bats**t comedy, and Logan is incredibly grounded, emotional, dramatic film. What they have in common is they both take a lot of chances and risks, and I think that with audiences these days — given not just all the comic book material they have out there but just all the different things that can entertain them — you have to be able to stand out. That’s what we try to do with all these films, and we’ve chosen filmmakers who have distinct, unique visions.“
Although Hugh Jackman’s time as Wolverine might be ending, there are plenty of new X-Men tales coming up — like the aptly named New Mutants movie, which the studio is hoping to cast and begin shooting “quite shortly” for a 2018 release. Director Josh Boone grew up reading New Mutants comics as a kid, Kinberg said, and “he had a very clear sense of what he wanted to do with them.”
Then there’s also the X-Force movie, which has been the subject of many talks between Ryan Reynolds, Kinberg, and studio executives, and which will most likely feature characters from the upcoming Deadpool sequel (Cable, of course, being among them). “It’s a movie that we’re really interested in and is on the horizon for us,” Kinberg said.
And that rumored Dark Phoenix-themed movie that Kinberg is reportedly working on? Neither he nor Parker would confirm its existence, naturally, but they did say that they’ve been kicking around ideas for the next big X-Men title since they started post-production on Apocalypse — and they’ve both certainly thought about what it would take to bring Jean Grey’s alter ego to life.
“I think the challenge of Dark Phoenix is to be true to the comic. It’s one of the most popular sagas in the history of the X-Men or any comic book,” Kinberg noted. “But also, to find a way to ground it so it’s not too intergalactic. One of the things that Bryan Singer did from the beginning of the franchise, and I think that you see us doing now and continuing and maybe even deepening, is making these movies as human and grounded and emotional and relatable as possible.”
“it’s a big story,” Parker agreed. “it’s got large complex elements and ideas in it, and offers such a rich well to draw from that I think it’d be pretty exciting to tackle that one.”
Going forward, the pair of producers are committed to making sure each film in the franchise is as distinct and radical from one another as possible. But there is one loosely unifying theme: each movie, in its own particular way, will deal with what it means to be an outsider.
“I think that’s why the X-Men comics have been as successful as they are, which is that they’re about outsiders,” Kinberg said. “Even though you’re a superhero, your superpower makes you different, and I guess that feeds into these movies being different from each other as well.“
“We’re at a really exciting time for these movies because they’ve evolved far past the early days of comic book movies, into being movies that can kind of tackle any subject, any tone,” Parker added. “And not just courtesy of the X-Men movies, obviously, Marvel’s done a great job of it, too. It feels like the landscape is opening up in a really exciting way for all of us.”
Yes sir, it certainly is awesome to be a fan of superhero stories and of the X-Men — although personally (and bear in mind, this is coming from someone who owns an original cel of Lilandra from X-Men: The Animated Series) I wouldn’t mind a little bit of intergalactic nonsense in whatever comes next. What about you? Let us know in the comments what you’d like to see!
Images: 20th Century Fox, Marvel Comics