Hugh Jackman’s final outing as the Wolverine in Logan is an undisputed hit with audiences and critics alike and much of that success can be attributed to the film’s director James Mangold, who also developed the story and co-wrote the screenplay. In many ways, Mangold’s film feels like a departure from traditional superhero fare; an intentional move on Mangold’s part, who as it turns out isn’t a big fan of the franchise formulas Marvel and DC have adopted.
In an interview with KCRW, Mangold explained his disdain for the tentpole formula used in superhero films, arguing that they’re not so much movies as they are feature-length advertisements for future products.
“Tentpole movies in general, they are not movies, generally. They are bloated exercises in two-hour trailers for another movie they are going to sell you in two years,” he said.
“There are so many characters that each character gets an arc of about six and a half minutes at best, and I’m not exaggerating,” Mangold continued. “You take 120 minutes, you take 45 of it for action, what are you left with, divide it by six characters, you have the character arc of Elmer Fudd in a Warner Bros. cartoon. That formula is empty for me.”
Both Marvel and DC have had outstanding box office success with the formula Mangold is criticizing, so it’s clear that audiences don’t share his distaste for the franchise set-up. By the same token, Logan’s success stems largely from the popularity of the Wolverine character and Hugh Jackman’s performance, so Mangold is at least partially indebted to the prior success of the X-Men franchise for helping Logan achieve what it has so far.
Still, films like Deadpool and Logan, which are only loosely tied into a franchise structure, have shown that audiences crave different kinds of superhero movies, so while the MCU and DC Extended Universe will continue churning out new films for years to come, we may also see a rise in comic book movies that dare to do something a little different.
In other words, it’s a great time to be a fan of this stuff!