In this day and age, the shared movie universe is the dominant franchise model, and every studio is looking for a way to capitalize on what Marvel Studios started when The Avengers became a record-breaking success. The time of the true “solo” superhero movie (like Spider-Man 2 or The Dark Knight) has largely passed, and now even supposed standalone entries are expected to contain numerous clues and references to the larger world it inhabits. Twentieth Century Fox, however, is handling their X-Men film series a little differently. From an outsider’s perspective, there seems to be no real rhyme or reason to their release slate.
One year after Deadpool made the Merc With a Mouth an international movie star, Fox will release Logan, which barely has any connections (if any at all) to the irreverent Golden Globe-nominated comedy. Directed by James Mangold, Logan is designed to be Hugh Jackman’s swan song in his career-defining Wolverine role, and the filmmakers seemed to be doing some planning for the future. A key character in Logan is X-23, the female clone of Wolverine who could very well be the new face of the franchise at some point. However, this was not the main goal of Mangold, who was just looking for a way to tell a great story.
In an interview with Fandango, Mangold was asked about the shared universe building responsibilities and revealed that his mentality making Logan was to approach it as a one-off production:
“I always feel like I’m making a one-off movie every time. My feeling is that if you can make a good film, it’s naturally going to lend itself to people wanting to see sequels because it’s good and the characters are rich. I really wasn’t thinking about [passing the torch] – and I know the studio wasn’t because they didn’t even know who X-23 was when I brought it up.”
Mangold elaborated by saying he was primarily looking for the most “interesting themes” as opposed to merchandising opportunities. What he enjoys most about Logan is the dual father-son/daughter dynamics, where Wolverine has to care for an ailing Charles Xavier while also becoming the reluctant guardian to X-23. This plays in line with Mangold’s earlier comments about his intention to make Logan an “adult movie” (in terms of the target audience). Older moviegoers undoubtedly enjoy collecting pop culture memorabilia from their favorite properties, but they foremost want to be engrossed in a compelling narrative that’s well-told. It’s also promising that Mangold wasn’t thinking about “a new line of movies” when making Logan, making it sound like this film can truly stand on its own merits and work as a self-contained entity.
Less than two months away from release (as of this writing), Mangold and company certainly seem to be on the right track. The marketing campaign for Logan has been extremely well-received and generated much enthusiasm, so viewers are obviously interested to see what the creative team has up their sleeves. Whether this is really Jackman’s final time donning the claws or not, longtime fans are seemingly getting the Wolverine movie they have wanted from the beginning. Wolverine is one of the few superhero characters who actually benefits from an R rating, so hopefully the final product delivers on its immense potential.