While the smashing success of Deadpool no doubt made the executives at 20th Century Fox less wary about greenlighing an R-rated Wolverine movie, that doesn’t mean the decision to move forward with Logan was easy. Of course the studio wanted another Wolverine sequel, especially if Hugh Jackman planned on hanging up the claws for good, but Jackman and director James Mangold wanted to do something really different for this final outing. Mangold earned the goodwill of the fans with The Wolverine, a Samurai-centric take on the character that showed despite X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was possible to make a really good standalone Wolverine movie. And while that film bucked trends of its own—specifically the “hero must save the entire planet” plot that has been done to death in superhero movies at this point—it was still an action-packed Wolverine adventure.
For Logan, however, Mangold and Jackman wanted to go full Western, which means a lot more contemplation. And according to 20th Century Fox Film chairman Stacey Snider (via Variety), that made some executives very nervous:
“Inside, there was real consternation about the intensity of the tone of the film. It’s more of an elegy about life and death. The paradigm for it was a Western, and my colleagues were up in arms. It’s not a wise-cracking cigar-chomping mutton-sporting Wolverine, and the debate internally became, isn’t that freakin’ boring? Isn’t it exciting to imagine Wolverine as a real guy and he’s world-weary and he doesn’t want to fight anymore until a little girl needs him?”
Indeed, for all the concern over the limiting R-rating and fourth-wall-breaking of Deadpool, there was likely little worry that the film would be boring. But while “an elegy about life and death” may be cause for concern for a studio bankrolling a superhero pic, that only makes the film that much more alluring to discerning viewers. There have now been nine X-Men movies, counting Deadpool, all of which involve spectacle and set pieces and some variation of one-liners + action. For Wolverine’s final outing, why would you want to stick to formula? Why not break the mold? I mean, Christopher Nolan tried it and it only resulted in one of the most iconic trilogies in movie history.
Ultimately Fox trusted Mangold and Jackman with a sizable budget, and thus far Logan looks like it could be something really, really special. At the very least we can rest assured we’re not in for an X-Men: Apocalypse redux.