In a time when everyone is complaining about “superhero movie fatigue”, let’s just get one thing straight… there’s no such thing.
Saying you’re sick of superhero movies is like saying you’re sick of science-fiction movies or westerns – superhero movies are basically a genre in their own right by now, a medium of telling a particular type of story.
Unfortunately, a particularly popular strain of that type of story has been hit upon by Marvel, which led to the Avengers assembling, and then disassembling in their own standalone movies, and as much as they might try – and to be fair, there is a fairly large tonal gap between Thor and Ant-Man – overall there can be something a little made-to-measure about the franchise.
And that’s totally fine! Even within the rigidly set rules of the Marvel universe, a universe where a movie making $1 billion at the box office is practically the average, they’ve still managed to make movies as varied as a comedic space opera like Guardians Of The Galaxy to the political paranoia of Captain America: The Winter Solider.
Of course, there are examples when that all goes pear-shaped, and we hate to say it, but you just have to see what’s going on in the DC camp for examples of that.
While we really dug the more sci-fi tinged Man Of Steel, critics were far from kind to Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, but fingers crossed Wonder Woman and Aquaman can help them finally stick their landing.
Equally, 20th Century Fox have a history of being a bit of a mixed-bag with their superhero line-up. While they technically helped kick off the current trend with the first X-Men movie back in 2000, and X-2 is still arguably one of the best superhero movies ever made, they’re also responsible for X-Men: Origins – Wolverine and both the Jessica Alba-starring version of the Fantastic Four in 2005 and that completely reviled Miles Teller-starring reboot from 2015.
However, in a recent one-two punch, Fox are reconstructing how we see superhero movies.
Clip via 20th Century Fox
First up was Deadpool, a little known D-list entry in the superhero canon, with a (relatively) teeny tiny budget of $55 million and little-to-no hope of competing with the big boys. It went on to make over $780 million at the box office, more than any of the X-Men movies had ever managed, and became the biggest R-rated movie of all time.
Perhaps finally realising that more doesn’t always necessarily mean more – not every superhero movie need end with a city/country/planet/universe facing imminent destruction – they’ve followed that mindset up with the upcoming Logan.
The reported budget of $127 million might sound like a lot, but compared to, say, X-Men: The Last Stand ($210 million) or Doctor Strange ($160 million), it does show something relatively close to restraint.
All of the footage and trailers we’ve seen for the movie so far are giving us a very different tale than the one we’ve got from any of the eight previous movies we’ve watch Hugh Jackman play the character in, while the movie was (just like Deadpool) rated R for strong brutal violence and language throughout, and for brief nudity.
Clip via 20th Century Fox
And then there are the early reviews…
“Seamlessly melding Marvel mythology with Western mythology, James Mangold has crafted an affectingly stripped-down stand-alone feature, one that draws its strength from Hugh Jackman’s nuanced turn as a reluctant, all but dissipated hero.” – The Hollywood Reporter.
“Logan isn’t always a satisfying movie, but there’s a very satisfying answer to those questions waiting for viewers at the end of it. Satisfying not only because Mangold resolves things with some brilliantly expressive imagery, or because he endows this story with a no-shits-left-to-give honesty that defies its origins and justifies its spectacular violence and salty vocabulary, but because it proves how iconic Jackman has made this character over the last 17 years.” – IndieWire.
“It’s something no-one could have expected: a creatively risky superhero movie. And it deserves to pay off.” – The Telegraph.
“Logan is The Dark Knight of the mutant-filled X-franchise, a gripping film that transcends the comic-book genre by saying something important — and for Logan, that means coming to grips with needing loved ones in his life.” – USA Today.
Finally, it appears that someone has realised that they can’t compete with the scale of Disney and Marvel, so they’re aiming in a different direction, giving adults what they want in the packing of something we’re used to, but with something completely different going on underneath.
Imagine if that was the same mentality that Warner Bros. took on with their licences, and we got a very adult Batman movie in which he isn’t trying to save Gotham from blowing up, but goes down a smaller, more intimate and by extension more intense route.
We’ve seen (oddly enough, via Marvel) that smaller scale is better suited to some characters, with the likes of Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix. 20th Century Fox followed up on that on the big screen with Deadpool and now Logan, and are doing it themselves on the small screen with the new critical darling Legion.
Look, we don’t want big brash blockbusters to come to an end because very few movies make our jaws hang agape in the IMAX screen like when we go see the latest Avengers movie.
But we do enjoy that we’re finally getting some variation, and Logan might bring an end to that nasty superhero fatigue if it can spur on other comic book movies to start heading out in new directions, too.