Logan is the final cinematic bow for Hugh Jackman’s iconic Wolverine, and so far the movie is proving popular with critics and audiences alike. After taking in a reported $33 million on Friday, Logan is poised for a massive weekend box office haul. Among other things, Logan‘s box office performance should provide further impetus for studios to take chances on superhero movies that do not necessarily stick to tried-and-true formulas but follow a more personalized vision.
Comments by Hugh Jackman suggest that Logan was indeed a very personal experience for him, which is understandable when you consider how long he’s lived with the character. After 17 years and 9 movies, Jackman had lots of thoughts about how to wrap up the character’s story, and his sharing with director James Mangold clearly had a lot to do with shaping the final film.
One big thing for Jackman was Logan’s legendary rage, an aspect of the character he discussed at length with Mangold (via Collider). Jackman also feels Logan’s never-give-up underdog attitude is a key reason why folks connect with the character:
“This was the hardest the filming had ever been. Then the most satisfying. And I think… I’d always been aware that that’s his defining thing, the berserker rage. I really talked to [James Mangold] about it. How to crack that, how to really make people feel that burning rage underneath. And I think we achieved this, probably better than before, by seeing more beaten down, near his bottom. That’s, to me, that’s his superpower. That actually when he’s just about out, just on the mat, the count is at 8, 9, that’s when he rises up. And that’s why I think I connect, why I love him as a character and I think people, too. He will not ever give up.”
Jackman and Mangold likely could not have conveyed Logan’s berserker rage quite so powerfully had they not been given the freedom to push the boundaries on violence. Logan‘s R-rating may originally have been simply a natural outgrowth of the desire to explore the character’s anger as thoroughly as possible, but it later became a major selling-point for the film as well.
Will the box office success of Logan lead to more R-rated superhero movies? Audiences seem eager to embrace grittier, more realistic portrayals of comic book characters. Considering how studios love jumping on new money-making trends, it seems inevitable that Logan will spur the creation of more superhero movies featuring extreme violence.
However, just because a movie is violent and R-rated, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily more real or truthful. Logan by all accounts has hit the right notes, using violence not for its own sake but as a necessary storytelling tool. Actors and directors with less of a fully-realized vision than Hugh Jackman and James Mangold might conceivably abuse the license afforded by an R-rating, unleashing mayhem simply for the gory spectacle of it. We’ll see how this trend develops over the coming years.