Will Logan’s Oscar Nomination Change the Cinematic Superhero Genre As We Know It?
It was announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23 — all of those suspected Oscar nominees were surprisingly joined by a gray-haired, scarred-but-still-sexy mutant. Logan, the James Mangold-directed film starring Hugh Jackman as the post-Wolverine titular character, was Oscar-nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Written by Scott Frank, Michael Green and Mangold, Logan is loosely based on the 2015 Old Man Logan self-contained story arc within the ongoing Wolverine comic book series, which was written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven.
While the quality of Logan certainly merits a nomination, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences hasn’t acknowledged a superhero film since The Incredibles was nominated for Best Original Screenplay in 2005 and Heath Ledger won a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the Joker in 2009’s The Dark Knight.
Could this be a sign that The Academy might start giving this beloved superhero genre — that has played such a huge role in modern-day pop culture — the recognition it deserves? And if so, will that change the direction of upcoming comic book-based movies from family-friendly, colorful, action-driven eye candy to a darker, more adult-focused format?
The critical and box office success of movies like Logan and its 2016 predecessor Deadpool send a strong message that adults are showing up to see their favorite superheroes use foul language, kick ass and have the occasional roll in the hay. And while we’ve seen this sort of thing before in other R-rated, comic book-based projects like Blade and Kick-Ass, the source material of those doesn’t have quite the same rabid fanbase as those two Marvel powerhouses.
We know for sure that Deadpool 2 (release date Feb. 12, 2018) is giving us a new adventure starring the “Merc with a Mouth,” featuring the ultra-violence and potty-mouth humor we’ve come to expect — and love. I believe this falls under the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” model.
Less clear is the upcoming The New Mutants movie, which recently had its release date moved nearly one year, from this April to February 2019. Directed by Josh Boone, this X-Men spin-off seems to be following the no-bullshit sense of realism of Logan. But while Logan can be classified as more of a “Western with mutants,” Boone told Entertainment Weekly, “We are making a full-fledged horror movie set within the X-Men universe. There are no costumes. There are no super villains. We’re trying to do something very, very different.”
Another question is this: Now that Disney/Marvel has acquired Fox — and with it the X-Men Universe — and knowing Fox’s success with R-rated X-Men films, will Disney make any adult-targeted Marvel movies in the future?
During an annual meeting last year, while fielding questions Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked directly “if Disney had considered, or was considering, any Rated-R entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following the recent evidence that such things can be successful.” The Los Angeles Times quotes Iger as saying, “We don’t have any plans to make R-rated Marvel movies.”
Whether that will change following Disney’s Fox acquisition and the acknowledgment of Logan by The Academy remains to be seen.