If you ask fans of the character we've all come to know as Wolverine, they'd tell you that they've always wanted a hard R-rated version of the mutant hero's truly gritty nature. Those long-held wishes will be coming true with Logan, the first and only R-rated incarnation of the famed X-Men character to hit theaters. But, naturally, there was one vocal segment that was worried that such an approach would mean doomsday for the long popular franchise: studio executives.
Variety spoke with Fox's studio chairman Stacey Snider at a recent event, and she openly about an opposition that existed among her fellow studio brass about taking such a hard edged angle on a character that we've seen, for the most part, acting like a typical comic book film protagonist. Snider described the other side of the aisle thusly:
Inside, there was real consternation about the intensity of the tone of [Logan]. 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?
You can kind of sympathize with any major studio that would have concerns with bringing their comic characters into an R-rated, and wholly grounded, context. Even after Deadpool's massive box office win, when you're trying to make a character like Wolverine, someone who's only starred in PG-13 comic flicks up until this point, it's not guaranteed to hit. If anything, the concept feels like it's doomed to fail from the start, though that pretense falls apart when taking into account some very important context. And that context is thanks to The Wolverine, director James Mangold's previous outing with Hugh Jackman and is famous character.
Even ignoring the fact that The Wolverine dropped an R-rated cut on home video, the PG-13 version of the film was still a sobering, somber affair that helped prime the public for a very grounded Wolverine. All Logan is doing is bringing the series to a fitting, adult-flavored close, and it's doing so by grounding the film similar to Mangold's previous effort. While it looks like there's still plenty of mutant action to be had, action sequences to marvel at, and claws to polish, it's refreshing to see that real world stakes are finding their way into a corner of the Marvel universe that's operated without them for quite some time.
The box office track record of Hugh Jackman's tenure as Wolverine has proven that not only is the world ready for an R-rated Logan, but it should have probably happened a long time prior to this final ride. We'll see if the studio's potential worries were legitimate or not when the film opens on March 3rd, but we'd like to think it'll be closer to the "No" side of the column.