We all know the story. For years 20th Century Fox, the controllers of the rights to all Marvel X-Men properties, was too worried to make the R-rated Deadpool. They didn't think something that raunchy or violent could work in the superhero genre. Then, finally, after years of saying "No", they finally said "Yes" — and $US780 million ($1 billion) later, they're happy they did.
But it seems that even after making the right decision with Deadpool, they were equally cautious about the new Wolverine film, Logan.
Speaking at a media conference Tuesday, Fox chairman Stacey Snider explained the studio's thinking behind the film, which opens March 2.
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?
We get the gist of this statement but the last sentence seems to contradict the one before it. Did they think the idea of "an elegy about life and death" was "freakin' boring" or that it was "exciting" to "imagine Wolverine as a real guy"? Maybe Snider meant to say "Is" instead of "isn't" in the final sentence. But we digress.
It is very clear, though, that the studio was worried about the intense tone of the film. And who could blame them? There isn't exactly a model for a more grounded, almost post-superhero film about a man and a young girl. If the film was a bunch of cursing and dick jokes like Deadpool, it probably would have been okayed immediately. But on paper, Logan sounds like a risk. Some trepidation should be expected when you are gambling hundreds of millions of dollars on something new.
Still, the takeaway here is twofold. One, Snider is being honest. A studio head doesn't have to give the public a glimpse into his or her thinking process, especially when the movie ends up getting made anyway. And that's the second part of it: The studio made the film, and is daring to take a risk with one of its most valuable assets. On March 2, hopefully, that pays off.