Taking on the well-read work could be the worst thing for the film.
The internet has been ablaze recently with rumors that Wolverine 3, the final outing for Hugh Jackman as the clawed hero, will feature a significantly aged star. This, coupled with its confirmed R rating (thanks Deadpool!) has led to much speculation that the storyline will be none other than the incredible Old Man Logan storyline by Mark Millar. While it’s true that translating a critically-acclaimed book into a movie is a good start for success, and that an Old Man Logan movie would be a non-traditional superhero romp, the hurdles it would have to overcome may be too big to handle.
Unfortunately, more and more rumors are coming to light as to how the comic could be adapted, with Millar himself commenting that he things it could be done. However, in the interest of the best send-off to the cranky Canadian possible, there are four big reasons why Wolverine 3 shouldn’t attempt the Old Man Logan storyline.
(Spoilers for the Old Man Logan TPB below)
The Characters (and licensing)
This one is the most obvious, so it goes first. Old Man Logan, the book, utilizes the entire Marvel Comics catalog of heroes and villains. Fox, however, owns the rights to the X-Men and their associated characters. Which means that 90% of the characters and references made throughout the book would have to be dropped, changed, or negotiated (more on that later). With that much of the story gone or altered, the final product would have a hard time being anything like the original. Sure, some substitutions could be easy enough to slide in, and the big reveal (that Wolverine is responsible for the death of the X Men) could be attributed to someone like Mr Sinister instead of Mysterio.
However, licensing woes aside, many of the characters in the novel rely on the reader having an understanding of the greater Marvel universe, not just the Movieverse. For instance, in the above example, the average moviegoer may not know who Sinister, Mysterio, or half of the other characters are. This would be especially confusing if these positions had to be filled with X-Men related castings, as outside of the main team, the drop into obscurity is huge. Deadpool took a big risk with Negasonic Teenage Warhead (though most of that movie could be defined as ‘a risk’) but it was able to rely on mocking it’s own material to slide past the lack of A-list team members. In a movie as dark as Old Man Logan would have to be, there is little room for self referential humor. Which brings us to our next point:
Old Man Logan is not, by any means, a lighthearted story. Sure, it interjects humor in places, mostly from the blinded Hawkeye, and although it ends in a type of victory, it’s bittersweet and bleak. The recent Batman V Superman has shown that the darker and more depressing a story, the less likely audiences are to grab on. On the opposite side, even the darker Marvel movies (such as Civil War) maintain a bright, flashy tone, and movies like Guardians of the Galaxy play out as more comedy than adventure. Fox’s last venture into a darker, grittier comic story ended up in the gigantic failure F4ntastic (tone was one of many problems facing that adaptation, but a big one nonetheless).
Still, the box office has spoken, and while customers have shown that they can handle violence in spades when it comes to comic adaptations, the recent group of poorly-made, dour films might ward Fox off of giving Old Man Logan the grit it deserves. Instead, they could attempt to ‘lighten’ it, doing a disservice to the source material. You can thank Batman V Superman for that one, as well as our next reason:
This one might be easier to mitigate, but if it were to be a full adaptation of the book, an Old Man Logan movie would most certainly reach the 2.5 hour mark. In order to shorten that down to a more reasonable size, some things would have to be cut. Removing the entire plotline with Hawkeye’s daughter would be the most likely cut, especially if licensing prevents the Avenger from even showing up in the first place. This also removes the reference to Spiderman, but in doing so, cuts out a large emotional punch of the original story. Instead, trims could be made to some of the ‘stand alone’ adventures (such as the Moloids and the Venomsaurs), but that would result in a rather quick journey across the entire country of Amerika. More than likely, attempts to condense the story would remove a lot of the power of the scenes, so for a movie already juggling massive possible rewrites, at that point the studio might as well start from scratch. Which, they probably would considering their biggest hurdle is:
Let’s say the web of ownerships can be worked out, and Fox has access to the rest of the Marvel stable. Does anyone really think that Disney is going to let the Hulk be portrayed as an incestuous, violent, sadistic villain? Or that someone in a mock Spiderman suit will be allowed literally decapitate a man with the stock of a gun? Disney has a vested interest in keeping these heroes pure, bright, and lunchbox-ready. Part of the fun of the comic was that it challenged these normal comic expectations, giving us President Red Skull wearing Captain America’s mask, Hulkbillies, and a squad of dinosaurs with symbiotic powers. It’s incredibly unlikely that Disney will allow some of their flagship characters to be, for lack of a better word, dirtied up that much.
With all of these issues around a proper Old Man Logan movie, what should Wolverine 3 center around? The answer is pretty obvious:
Laura Kinney, better known as X-23, is a female clone of Wolverine, given his bestial rage, but with much less history. In the comics, she has even taken the mantle of The Wolverine, wearing the traditional yellow and blue uniform of her predecessor. Even better, an origin story about her could easily work its way into a Wolverine feature film, tracing the similarities of her time with Weapon X, as well as Logan’s reluctant mentorship of the lost killer. Throw in a few Wolverine villains like Sabertooth and Lady Deathstrike, working with the Weapon X program, work together a script about Wolverine passing the torch before meeting his end, and you’ve got yourself an epic closer to the trilogy. And as an added bonus, a Wolverine for future movies.
Don’t get me wrong; a well done Old Man Logan movie would be amazing. But with so much in the way of a proper rendition, I’d rather see a new story entirely than a failed attempt at a great book.