Meta-comedy, breaking the fourth wall and self-deprecating humor were some of the key reasons Deadpool killed it at the box-office last year. With a budget of just under $60 million and a total box office income of over $760 million, Deadpool finally proved to studios that the masses were ready for an R-rated superhero film. Rather than being put off by the ultra-violence, the toilet humor or the de-glorification of our modern-day deities, audiences flocked to cinemas in search for something fresh and innovative.
It's no surprise that a success as colossal as Deadpool would clearly have an impact on the moviemaking world. What is surprising, however, is just how quickly the effects can already be felt. Furthermore, what's even more surprising is that Logan, the first film to be clearly inspired by Deadpool, appears to not only be mimicking his self-referential comedy, but may even be trying to add something to it by trying something new. Here's why the contents of Logan's final trailer bodes well for Wolverine's sunset film.
An R-Rated 'Logan'?
One of the first repercussions we saw from Deadpool's success was that the producer for Logan, Simon Kinberg, decided he wanted to turn Logan into an R-rated film. Although it still isn't clear whether this is really going to happen, the fact that it's been intended for some time now means that the filmmakers are no longer afraid to make a truly gritty, violent and gore-induced Logan finale. While this take would not work for all superhero flicks, I think you'd be hard pressed to find another hero more suited for the darker tone an R-rated movie elicits than a Wolverine finale.
Rugged, wild, messy and animalistic, Wolverine has always been at his most fascinating and at his most human when he embodies the antihero. Perhaps due to his immortality, seeing a side of Logan that has to deal with the ghosts of his past helps us as an audience relate to someone we'd otherwise find it difficult to understand.
Rather than a blessing, Hugh Jackman often plays the character's immortality as a curse. Rather than focusing on the fact that he can always escape the clutches of death, we look into the real-life ramifications of immortality, of having to spend eternity living with regret and loss, heartbreak and despair. An eternity filled with the blood of his foes forever stained onto his hands, it's grit lodged beneath his fingernails. An R-rated Logan would really be able to harness this unique quality in Wolverine, and give his character the emotional weight and gravitate that he deserves.
A Meta 'Logan'?
Of course, a large part of why Deadpool worked so well as an R-rated movie was not just because of it's dark undertone. This more serious tone was also notably juxtaposed against a meta-comedic technique of really, really wanting to make fun of itself. Highlighting superhero cliches, breaking the fourth wall and showing our antihero doing more ordinary acts such as doing the laundry — which is more often associated with banal reality than to the exciting exploits of a blockbuster superhero — oddly worked wonders for helping Deadpool differentiate itself from the pack. It helped humanize Deadpool in a more lighthearted fashion.
Logan certainly appears to be following suit. A shot of our superheroes scoffing down Pringles, trying on $3 sunglasses at a 7/11, or watching Logan having to discipline his new surrogate daughter in the opening scene of the trailer shows that these superheroes aren't free from the less glamorous parts of day-to-day existence either. They too read comics (only about themselves), get pushed around and told what to do (except that they push back), and have to suffer the consequences of their actions (except they do it in epic form with explosions and bullets and stuff!).
In typical cinema fashion, Logan appears to be willing to ground itself in banal reality in order to humanize its characters, and then lift the viewer off with them into the realms of fantasy for our entertainment. This is exactly what Deadpool did so successfully, and by the looks of it, exactly where Logan appears to be going, too.
Moving Beyond 'Deadpool '
However, although making a film entirely composed of self-referential jokes is perfect for a superhero film like Deadpool, I think most would agree that for Logan's finale to have the emotional kick that its fans are looking for, the story will need to have something more than that. Therefore, while everyone is focusing on the amazingly meta opening scene of the new trailer — which is hardly surprising given it's comedic execution — the parts of the trailer that has me most excited are its quieter moments.
If Deadpool is a postmodern take on the superhero genre, Logan appears to be taking a more metamodern stance on it instead. In other words, the trailer appears to show Logan as a self-mocking, self-referential superhero film, just like Deadpool, but with an under-current of genuine sincerity underneath. Under all the humor and sly winks to the audience, the trailer also hints to a much more stern and sincere story about a man finally finding some sort of purpose in his life. By attaining a sense of family he never had, Logan is finally given the closure he's never had. Professor Xavier returns to his sturdy post as surrogate father to Logan, and it appears X-23 will play, in turn, Logan's surrogate daughter to round off the new normal.
This not only bodes well for telling an interesting and engaging story, but the fan in me looks forward to finally witnessing one of my most beloved characters from film finally getting the closure he deserves. Prepare for the feels, because I bet you they're coming! I'm pretty sure ninjas will be cutting onions in cinemas across the globe during the closing scenes of the final act.
A Box-Office Breaking 'Logan'?
However, the question people will really be asking is will it do better than Deadpool financially? Although on the surface this might sound like a pretty shallow question, in actual fact it's a rather important one. This is because if Logan takes in more revenue at the box-office than Deadpool did, then this will empirically prove that Logan is a better movie, in the both an objective and populist sense at least. Furthermore, perhaps more importantly, Logan killing it in ticket sales will guarantee Logan's legacy.
In true self-referential style let's be completely honest here: the only reason Fox has allowed Logan to take so much inspiration from Deadpool in the first place is because of the financial success that Deadpool was. Deadpool was far from the first ever R-rated superhero flick, in fact it's arguably not even its best. 2012's Dredd, another R-rated superhero flick for example has gained a significant and enthusiastic fanbase over the years, largely due to it's more serious tone, gritty setting, and thematic explorations into the moral grey area of de-facto law enforcement in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
However Dredd tanked at the box-office. Pure and simple. Despite being a hit with the fans and critics alike, the fact that Dredd didn't earn it's weight in revenue gauaranteed that it's legacy would not live on. At least in so much that we haven't seen any similar takes on the superhero genre since, despite the fact that we are literally inundated with new superhero releases every year. Therefore for Logan to guarantee it's legacy in cinema and guarantee it's superiority over Deadpool, it has to perform well at the box-office.
So, will Logan best Deadpool at the box-office? Of course this is a very hard question to answer. On the one hand Logan is almost definitely never going to be as successful in the marketing department as it's counterpart was. Deadpool pretty much re-wrote the rulebook on how to market a film, and it paid major dividends in ticket sales!
On the other hand however, just as Deadpool was perfect for it's time, Logan taking a more sincere approach might make it perfect for it's time also. By this I mean that a lot has happened over the past 12 months. In a post-Brexit/post-Trump era, people are looking for more than just self-referential jokes. Regardless of whether you're pro-Trump/anti-Trump, pro-Brexit/anti-Brexit, what we have in common is that we all accept that both change is needed, and most importantly, solutions have to be found.
Furthermore, the repercussions of this reality can already be felt in Hollywood too. Whilst positive escapism can be found in the much acclaimed La La Land, another award-winning hit of 2016 - Moonlight, goes a different route, unashamedly delving into many of the issues we face in society today. The fact that this film is not only fairing well with critics, but is also doing well at the box-office and winning awards is a major sign of the times. People no longer want to just poke fun at the stagnated cliches deriving from our inability to try something new - people now actually want to try something new.
Deadpool threw as much shade at society in general as it did at the superhero genre, mainly at our inability to try something new. And in doing so, Deadpool in true post-modern fashion, did something new. However, now that the gates for change are finally being opened, the question now being asked is what should be new. What should take the place of the old?
The fact that Logan is quite literally the final chapter in Wolverine's story renders it perfect for exploring such themes. Ironically, I can't think of a better setting for a film to explore ideas of resolution and starting anew than a man searching for meaning, purpose and closure in his final days. Moreover, this latest trailer really looks like Logan wants to embrace this opporunity. By focusing on family and the power of unity, the film looks to not only be exploring such notions for the main protagonist, but for the audience too.
Of course I could completely be looking too far into all of this this! It is just a trailer for a superhero flick after all. However, comics have always resonated with audiences precisely because they do tackle the big issues of the times. Therefore if this is what the makers of Logan are shooting for, and if it does strike a chord with cinema-goers whilst retaining some meta-comedy to keep us smiling, Logan may well appeal to the masses in a way that could challenge even the Leviathan that has become Deadpool at the box-office.
Regardless, on a more personal note, I, for one, have literally grown up watching Hugh Jackman's rendition of Wolverine, and the latest trailer has me more than confident that the film is right on course for giving a fitting end to one of the most iconic superhero incarnations of all time, regardless of how it fairs with the masses. Thank you, Hugh, for showing us all that even tough-guy superheroes find life difficult sometimes.
What do you think will be a fitting end for Jackman's Wolverine?