Ahead of Logan's release, Deadpool came to theaters and proved something very important for the super hero genre: movies based on comic book characters can be R-rated and maintain impressive levels of success. Immediately, speculation began about which character would be the next to earn an R-rating from the MPAA on an intentional basis from the filmmakers and that question was answered quickly. James Mangold would direct the R-rated Logan for Hugh Jackman's final outing as the X-Men character of Wolverine. While Deadpool's success certainly helped Mangold have a bit of leverage in his conversations with Fox, it also allowed him to take the film to different and more complex places than a PG-13 movie. In an interview with ComicBook.com ahead of his Quarantine Watch Party of Logan on Wednesday night, the director opened up about the subject.
"When the opportunity arose, I realized I'd have freedom and I even traded budget for more freedom," Mangold said. "Meaning, I told the studio I'd do it if it could be rated R, and that for me, the decision to go R was less about just wanting more violence. Although, that would certainly be part of it."
Really, Mangold wanted to be able to deliver the emotional beats and character moments which called for overall heavier themes. An R-rated film granted him this opportunity. "When you make a rated R film, the film is no longer marketed to nine-year-olds. And when the film is no longer marketed to nine or 10 year old kids, there's other changes that happen behind the scenes. The studio no longer anticipates that the film will play for families. Because the studio no longer anticipates the film will play as a family film, there are narrative burdens that are no longer upon the movie that are far different than just whether there's language or sexuality or violence."
"They also relate to the reading level of the movie, which can go up. The scene lengths can be longer. The pauses can be greater. The themes can be more complex and adult, because you are no longer servicing," he explained. "You're not making a Happy Meal anymore. You're making a grownup meal, and that changes everything." This might be part of what drew Mangold into the X-Men universe, in the first place. "My respect for what comic books I grew up with was that they always resonated," he said. "Part of what was attractive to me about it as a young man was that they weren't childish. They resonated with themes of romance, sexuality, revenge, grief, haunted childhoods, psychological damage. All these ideas were really interesting and they were more complicated in the comic books than they were, and that was part of the attraction of them. There was stuff that there's going on that wasn't in children's television or in our cartoons. There was something racy going on, in the same way that even when you watch a Bugs Bunny cartoon now, you realize... The reason I love them so much is there was something racy going on in those."
As he touched on earlier, the process of getting permission to make an R-rated Logan was a bit easier than some may have though. Not only was the success of Deadpool a factor but there was also a bit of a trade which took place.
"Well, the process of convincing them, is telling them it'll cost them less," Mangold explaikned. "The process of convincing them is really a nuts and bolts of them saying to you, "If the movie is rated R it's going to make 30% to 40% less money." And then you going, "Okay, it'll cost 30% to 40% less money to shoot. So I hear you and I'll meet you." And certainly my gambit had gained fuel with the success of Deadpool, specifically for Fox. And in a wider world with the sense that I think everyone at all of the studios was feeling like the task of making comic book adaptations of superhero films had gotten creatively stale. And that therefore some changes, even the corporations, even the companies in all their conservativeness, in all their resistance to change, knew that the formula as it was, was no longer working. The same economic graphs could show that the movies, without adding some new idea, were no longer grossing as well as they had, at that moment in time."
Mangold will have more to share from his time working on Logan on Wednesday night when he plays host to ComicBook.com's Quarantine Watch Party event.
Mangold's Quarantine Watch Party of Logan begins at 9pm ET on Wednesday, May 27,0comments