With the success of both Deadpool and Logan, 20th Century Fox has found a way to effectively differentiate itself from the other members of the superhero studio trifecta. Disney releases superhero films with broad appeal and a bright aesthetic; 20th Century Fox aims for more mature themes and isn’t afraid to incorporate both violence and profanity into its projects; Warner Bros…. well, they’re working on this, and when they figure out, it’s gonna be yuuuge. You’ll see.
Isn’t it just like Ryan Reynolds to upstage a colleague? After listening to critics sing the praises of Logan for the past few weeks, fans around the country took their seats on Friday night ready to watch Hugh Jackman strap on his metal claws one last time. And so it came as quite a surprise when the first superhero to appear onscreen wasn’t Wolverine but Deadpool, everyone’s favorite violent and profane superhero — and, if we’re being honest with each other, the entire reason an R-rated Wolverine movie was greenlit by 20th Century Fox.
Logan is the end of an era for two actors’ portrayal of two beloved characters: We’ve known for a while that Hugh Jackman was bowing out after this movie, and last week Patrick Stewart also announced that he was done playing Charles Xavier after the send-off he gets in the final Wolverine movie. These decisions obviously aren’t reckless larks made after one too many drinks, but maaaybe Stewart is thinking he spoke too soon.
In the superhero movie business, ratings have until now seemed like a pretty simple business. The way to get the biggest audience while also keeping in as much fantasy violence and perilous situations to stay true to the comics was to shoot for the middle ground, a nice, nonthreatening PG-13. No full-on nudity, no blood splatter, and relegate your one allocated f-word to Wolverine. But the times, they are a-changin’, and superhero movies are changing right along with them, starting with shooting for the more mature, edgier R-rating. As it turns out, this is exactly the direction audiences want them to go.
Casting rumors come in two major flavors. On the one hand, you have concrete news about actors meeting with executives and filmmakers to discuss their participation in upcoming productions. On the other hand, you have the echo chamber of social media, where casting rumors can materialize out of thin air and then be given credibility during an interview or social media exchange with an actor. Not all fan rumors end up at the first stage, but it is true that some social media rumors have actually ended up with the actor being offered the role.
Early on, you might’ve expected Hugh Jackman’s final bow as Wolverine to go out with a bang, like a giant farewell party where all his old and new friends are there to wave him off into the sunset. But that wouldn’t be quite fitting for a loner like Logan (and it sounds more like an X-Men movie), whose upcoming sequel really emphasizes the “solo” in solo outing — so don’t go in expecting to see a bunch of cameos from other mutants in the X-universe.
Few superhero movies captured the imagination of audiences last year quite like Deadpool. While Marvel releases were praised for their sleek storytelling and progressive characters, Deadpool went the other route, earning hundreds of millions of dollars on the strength of its raunchy sex scenes and immature sight gags. It was choppy, it was unpolished, and, occasionally, it was noticeably cheap around the edges. In other words, it was everything that Marvel movies are not.
In the world of cinematic crossover fantasies, anything is possible. What would any of us give for the Avengers to meet the Justice League, or the G.I. Joe soldiers to meet the Transformers (which might actually happen), or for every character ever created by Wes Anderson to team up and fight crime? Most of these could never happen, just due to budgetary concerns or two series being owned by different companies, but it’s great fodder for all the fanfiction websites out there. And sometimes actors give us their own input on which crossovers they’d love to see.
The people have been making some pretty questionable choices for themselves as of late. Some big politics thing is happening tomorrow, there’s that, and last night marked the 43rd Annual People‘s Choice Awards, the populist awards program that does away with the snooty prestige of the Oscars. The evening delivered some rather eyebrow-raising results in its recognition of the most widely beloved entertainers of the year, and though none quite confounded on a Trumpian level, the night was full of what we’ll diplomatically call “surprises.”
An “October surprise” refers to a major revelation deliberately timed to influence the outcome of a Presidential election. The Oscars, then, regularly offer a January surprise, in which a contender comes out of nowhere to elbow their way into the awards conversation. This year’s big shock is permanently smirking superhero send-up Deadpool, which has already upended plenty of predictions by racking up nominations among various industry guild groups. Superhero movies have never been able to crack the Best Picture race, but perhaps the self-reflexive meta streak in Deadpool could give it the edge it needs to sneak into the category. The nominations will be announced one week from today, and who’ll end up at the big dance is anyone’s guess.