It's now been confirmed that (certain) superheroes can be fully dark and violent versions of themselves in movies and still make big money at the box office - and since Fox seems to be the clear frontrunner in telling adult superhero stories on the big screen, we thought we'd offer a few thoughts on where the franchise could go next.
Here are 5 Great R-Rated X-Men Movie Ideas to Make After Logan.
The Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum has been delayed, which may be a blessing in disguise for X-Men fans everywhere.
Gambit is an X-Man that comes from a world of thief clans in New Orleans - clans that have been in a longtime war with clans of assassins. In the comics, that underworld of thieves and assassins has been like something out of John Wick, rather than what you'd expect from a Marvel Comics movie.
With that in mind, an X-Men movie about Gambit should embrace the new franchise reality, and plunge full-on into that John Wick crime/action movie niche. Gambit definitely has the skill to be the John Wick of thieves - and more charm, to boot. Actor Channing Tatum showed off impressive action skills in films like G.I. Joe, Jump Street and Haywire, and he's definitely a star that could use a big action movie role to showcase his talent and physicality (Magic Mike aside...).
Finally, a film that adds a dark and violent underworld to the X-Men universe not only has potential as a cinematic novelty - it also has high crossover potential with films like Deadpool.
Rebecca Romijn made Mystique a mainstream villain in the original X-Men trilogy, while Jennifer Lawrence made the character into a mainstream X-Men anti-hero during the second trilogy (the First Class continuity).
However, hardcore Marvel Comics fans know that neither of these depictions of Mystique is faithful to the character's legacy in Marvel Comics canon. Mystique is a character who exists in a gray area somewhere between main character and recurring character, anti-hero and villain - and it's time for a movie that properly examines the character in that way.
A Mystique film that's Rated-R could be the ultimate espionage thriller (sex, lies, betrayal, violence), with a unique psychological component, as well. The character has led a few interesting solo series in the comics, so with the right recasting (Lawrence is likely done), an Rated-R film can make good on the character's potential, with story that could fill continuity gaps or serve as a clever interquel to other films, as we learn just how much influence Mystique has had on the X-Men universe.
X-Men: Future Wars
X-Men fans have long waited for the movie universe to make good on comic book canon that involves time travel and causality. The film franchise finally broached the subject with the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, but there's so much more story to tell - and a sci-fi-horror-thriller film in the vein of Terminator could be the way to do it.
There are two characters who have a lot of experience with dark potential futures of the X-Men universe: Cable and Bishop.
Not only do both characters have their own respective future timelines and storylines - they've actually been at odds with one another in the comics, as each man hopped through time trying to accomplish conflicting goals, in the name of saving mutantkind.
The futures that Cable and Bishop come from are each horrific places worthy of an R-rating, populated with darker and more frightening characters like killer robots (Nimrod), and genocidal mutants (Stryfe, Apocalypse). It's a Terminator framework with the added draws of mutant powers and a two-pronged story of different time travelers, playing a chronological chess game. Draw from a popular X-Men comic book storyline like "Messiah War," and you'd have the first larger X-Men Universe Rated-R film on your hands.
This film is already in development, so what we're examining here has more to do with how it's adapted.
Based on rumors of the X-Force movie that have been going around the last few years, it sounds like it could be an amalgamation of the original series (Cable's team), the darker X-Men strike team (Wolverine's team), and the Uncanny X-Force team that fits in the middle (the second version of Wolverine's team, with Deadpool in the roster).
No matter which iteration of the X-Force's team that the filmmakers choose to use, there has never been a better time than now to adapt the dark and violent vision of the X-Force vol. 3 comic series. The premise (X-Men who go on clandestine kill missions to protect mutantkind) is complex and rich; it's also a perfect opportunity to introduce new franchise-spanning villains like The Purifiers (the modern legacy of William Stryker), who could appear in multiple films.
It's also a perfect opportunity to introduce more complex themes than "coming of age" and "discrimination" into the X-Men movies. At a time when socio-political awareness has never been higher, questions of authoritarianism, resistance, freedom, equality, and the morality involved with fighting for/against these concepts are ripe for exploration. And after seeing Logan, another X-Men movie that juggles the weight and consequences of extreme violence is something we want to see.
Age of Apocalypse
One of the most popular X-Men storylines of the '90s era has gone on to become one of the most popular corners of the entire X-Men Universe. "Age of Apocalypse" takes place in a future timeline where Charles Xavier's son Legion tries to kill Erik Lensherr before he becomes Magneto - only to accidentally kill his father. With Charles dead as a young man, he never creates the X-Men; and therefore, never opposes the evil that is Apocalypse.
What results is a future world where Apocalypse has largely exterminated humanity and installed mutants as a fascistic ruling class, with the X-Men (a much different roster) being led by Magneto as a rag-tag band of guerilla freedom fighters. It's a great alternate storyline that changes a lot of the character dynamics we know, while also introducing some great new characters. And it's something that fans have been pleading for a long time to see in live-action.
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse is the sort of project that could cap a third trilogy of films, that have already been set into motion by the events of X-Men: Apocalypse. It would give the cast (whatever it looks like at the time) a chance to do something different with roles they feel they've exhausted - and would give fans a dark, Rated-R vision of what the X-Men movie universe could look like.
Best yet: if the film did well enough, Fox would have two distinct franchise timelines to spin future installments out of.
Logan has shot to the top of our Comicbook.com User Rankings for Comic Book Movie - dethroning The Dark Knight! Do you agree with that assessment? Let us know with your ranking in the Movie Database below!
Logan takes place in the year 2024, where mutant births have become extremely rare. The defenders of mutant kind, the X-Men, are long gone, and the only remains of them are an old and struggling Charles Xavier and a weary Logan. Logan's vaunted healing factor has slowed, and at times doesn't seem to work at all. When a young mutant needs his help, Logan has to unsheathe his claws once more. His job isn't over yet.
Logan stars Hugh Jackman (Logan), Boyd Holbrook (Donald Pierce), Patrick Stewart (Charles Xavier), Dafne Keen (Laura Kinney/X-23), Doris Morgado (Maria), Stephen Merchant (Caliban), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gabriela), and Richard E. Grant (Dr. Zander Rice). James Mangold is directing and helped on the screenplay along with Scott Frank and Michael Green.
Logan is now playing in theaters.