'Logan's 'Dark Tone' Scared Fox: Guys, This Is Marketing For A Sequel To 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'

Wolverine murders a lot of people with those claws in the first trailer for 'Logan.' 20th Century Fox

This new Variety interview with Twentieth Century Fox Chairman Stacey Snider (and subsequent coverage) could use a little less credulity. Perhaps Logan really did “draw concerns at Fox over dark tone,” but isn’t it more likely that this is a little thing called… marketing?

“Inside, there was real consternation about the intensity of the tone of the film,” Variety describes Snider saying at one of those rapidly proliferating tech/media conferences. “It’s more of an elegy about life and death. The paradigm for it was a Western, and my colleagues were up in arms. It’s not a wise-cracking cigar-chomping mutton-sporting Wolverine, and the debate internally became, isn’t that freakin’ boring? Isn’t it exciting to imagine Wolverine as a real guy and he’s world-weary and he doesn’t want to fight anymore until a little girl needs him?”

Logan is a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine by the same director and one of the same screenwriters as the previous movie in this loose (very loose) trilogy. The first two movies were not very popular. The second, The Wolverine, was more well-received by critics and fans, but made less money. Neither previous Wolverine movie cracks the Top 30 superhero movies when it comes to domestic box office.

Logan only exists because of its dark tone and all efforts are directed toward making it stand out from other superhero movies, especially previous Wolverine movies. No one at Fox has to be a genius to know that 1. people hate studios and like movies that get away with defying them and 2. People like “dark” things. This isn’t three-dimensional chess. This is marketing. Why would there be “consternation” (“real” or not) over a film having “intensity”? Maybe Logan was just too edgy and cool for those suits, with their ties done up to 11.

There’s this thing a lot of producers have been doing where they compare their new movie to Unforgiven. Someone has done this with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Legend of Conan, Starlight and even Cowboys & Aliens. And Snider is angling for the same vibe in how she describes Logan. Again, marketing strategy.

Maybe Logan really is “more of an elegy about life and death” than a superhero movie. But the idea that this was somehow a provocation, instead of the exact reason Logan exists, strains belief. This doesn’t mean there weren’t studio notes trying to make Logan more generic and shittier, because there are always studio notes trying to make things more generic and shittier. But it does mean that redefining a new superhero sequel so as to make it feel less like a superhero sequel is plain ol’ smart marketing, rather than rage against the machine.

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