With Hugh Jackman’s Logan opening in theaters this weekend, the top spot of this list was never in doubt. The questions were always whether audiences would respond well to the first major R-rated superhero movie. Was the big opening of Deadpool an abberation or a sign of things to come? If today’s numbers are any indication, the answer is, maybe a little bit of both.
The Wolverine 2
There are two ways in which Logan represents a major change for superhero movies. The first, and most obvious, is the maturity of its content. Wolverine swears, Xavier swears, people get decapitated, and both Hugh Jackman and Dafne Keen spend the majority of the film covered in fake blood. Perhaps the more interesting change, though, is what Logan doesn’t do. It doesn’t feel the need to wrap up two decades’ worth of canon, or leave the door open for a sequel, or culminate in a big fight sequence with recognizable faces from the X-Men universe. Put it another way: Logan is the best at what it does, but what it does isn’t very superhero movie-ish.
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.
The internet’s movie rumormongers did get a few things right about Logan, Hugh Jackman’s third and supposedly final solo Wolverine movie. They did correctly predict that Logan’ female clone, X-23, would co-star in the film. They also anticipated that the movie would be loosely based on a Marvel Comics storyline called “Old Man Logan.” Of course, after that rumor was initially posted, it was also publicly debunked by one site. You win some, you lose some.
Some wondered, when it was announced that a third and final Wolverine movie was happening in 2017, if this meant that we’d see another appearance of his frenemy Sabretooth (brought to life onscreen by Liev Schreiber in 2009). Well, he didn’t end up in Logan, ultimately, but there was a plan in the works at one point to have him arrive for a few scenes towards the middle of the movie.
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.
When Logan finally fades to black, it brings Hugh Jackman’s 17-year run as Wolverine to a close. It is an emphatic and definitive ending, not just to Jackman’s Wolverine series, but also to the X-Men franchise as a whole.
Hugh Jackman isn’t the only one saying goodbye to the X-Men. Sir Patrick Stewart has decided that Logan will be his last appearance as Professor Charles Xavier as well, after appearing as the character in six other X-Men movies.
Logan works on many levels, mostly as a swan song for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. We’ve known for ages that this would be his last run playing the character, and Logan gives him an appropriately melancholy, moving send-off. But, had Marvel and 20th Century Fox been able to reach some kind of deal before Jackman made the decision not to sign on for another movie after this one, his Wolverine might have stuck around.
After Logan’s runtime was increased by a whole three minutes from the version that screened for critics, we all hopped on the post-credits scene speculation. Would it tease Deadpool 2? Would it further wrap up Wolverine’s story? Would it hint at the next Wolverine-less X-Men movie? Better hold your horses, because James Mangold himself has now said that Logan has no post-credits scene after all.