Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal of the iconic Wolverine character yielded fantastic box office results, generating $85.3 million in its first weekend, according to Variety. 20th Century Fox executives are probably patting themselves on the back right now as they dive into their pools of money, since the film only cost $97 million to make. As of writing of this article, “Logan” has breached the $500 million threshold. The success of the film now begs the question: “Will this film change the comic-book genre?”
In the wake of another hard R rated superhero movie, “Deadpool,” having great financial success, as it took in $783 million on a $58 million budget, we could be moving into the age of the adult superhero market. The DC Cinematic Universe has already begun down this road with “Man of Steel” and the ridiculously named “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” to varying degrees of success. Each was considered financially successful, but each was also panned critically with “Man of Steel” receiving a 55 out of 100 on Metacritic and “Batman v. Superman” garnering an even worse 44.
“Deadpool” and “Logan” may have helped to turn the corner in the more mature superhero genre with Metacritc scores of 65 and 77, respectively. While those numbers don’t constitute landmark films, they do show an improvement in the way gritty superhero movies are received.
The antithesis of the “Deadpool” and “Logan”form of comic-book movie is Marvel’s, well…everything. Don’t get me wrong, I have really enjoyed the light, fun take on the genre, but we may be hitting MCU fatigue. “Deadpool” and “Logan” succeeded because they let the directors of each film, Tim Miller and James Mangold, have full control of the projects.
Marvel has struggled to vary its tone since it was bought by Disney. As one of the most family-friendly entertainment entities on the planet, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room to go for an R-rated feature. Add to this the issue of the actors’ and actresses’ contracts and it can be difficult for a director or writer to make the film they want.
Take Edgar Wright’s “Ant-Man” journey, for example. Marvel was still an upstart on the movie game when Wright began writing the script for the project in 2006. Now Marvel is owned by Disney and has established a brand for itself in Hollywood. This brand is beginning to tire out as it runs through directors, actors, and writers who want to move too far outside the “Marvel box.” When Wright realized how much of his script would be scrapped, he left the project.
The Hollywood Reporter ran a story about the Wright debacle which contained a very interesting quote from an inside source at Marvel. “The company “Marvel-izes” its projects, as a source with ties to the company puts it.”
Hopefully, “Logan” and “Deadpool” can help to add some variety from the Marvel-ization of comic book movies. Personally, I love when Marvel takes chances, like they did with “Guardians of the Galaxy.” In this case, Kevin Feige gave writer and director James Gunn full creative control. Gunn was then able to give us his unaltered vision because the studio had confidence in his ability and the franchise was not as well known as Spiderman or Iron Man.
I hope that Marvel realizes the shifting market brought about by the successes “Logan” and “Deadpool.” I know that Marvel is capable of taking chances and trusting their writers and directors, but it has become somewhat creatively stagnant since its acquisition by Disney. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next, but “Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2” could be just what the MCU needs. Either way, I’m grateful to “Logan” and “Deadpool” for pushing the genre forward.