It’s funny what happens when you’ve had a long enough winning streak: You cross over from being everything that’s right to everything that’s wrong.
While no one can argue with the success Marvel Studios has found while putting together its much-ballyhooed Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), there’s definitely a quiet rebellion forming- both within the fandom, and possibly within the industry. See, the way Kevin Feige runs the ship over there makes the situation almost like the kind you’d find in a TV writers room. He and his team decide what direction everything’s going in, and then brings in writers and directors who can help get the MCU there while giving them just enough wiggle room to put their stamp on it.
That sort of cohesive, all-in, “go team go” approach is paying off beautifully for them, and there’s likely no reason for them to mess with that for the time being.
But what about directors that desire a little more freedom? Directors who also love the kinds of stories being told in comic books, and the fascinating characters that reside on those pages, but don’t necessarily want to be hamstrung by whatever else is coming before or after their movie?
Looking at these new comments from Logan director James Mangold, you get the sense that he’s thrilled by the fact that Fox is willing to play a little fast and loose with their continuity.
Yes, that’s right! The very continuity that fans are always mocking and criticizing (when it comes to Fox’s X-Men Universe), is the very thing that speaks to filmmakers who want to make something new, exciting, and different!
Here’s what he said, when asked why Logan takes place in 2029, before I continue on this idea:
“It’s year 2029 when the movie takes place. There’s an epilogue scene in Days of Future Past which is 2024, or 2023, something like that. I just wanted to get far enough past. My goal was real simple: It was to pick a time where I had enough elbow room that I was clear of existing entanglements.
Part of the way I think these films stop being fresh (these films being franchise comic book movies) is when you find yourself making essentially a television series with $200 million episodes where you’re literally just picking up where the last one left off and you’re making a mini-series. Then, it’s impossible to do something fresh, meaning essentially you’re just a director on the 14th episode of a television show picking up where the last one left off and people are going to be really startled by any discontinuity or changes.”
Interesting that he’d say “the 14th episode,” considering that Doctor Strange was just the 14th MCU movie, no?
The Logan director went on:
“The goal here was to somehow make a film that’s different; To be a filmmaker myself and go, ‘How would I bring myself to this? What would I do if I was starting from scratch? What would I explore? What have I seen not explored?’ Not only in the X-Men universe but in comic book movies in general.”
I swear to you, it’s like he read my editorial from late-December:
In that piece, I made the case that Fox can actually become the single most exciting destination for comic book movies precisely because of the stuff Mangold is talking about here.
While some may scoff and bristle at the fact that the internal logic within the XCU movies is a little all over the place, I think they’re missing the fact that it’s their willingness to not be so rigid that makes the storytelling possibilities so exciting over there.
Hell, whenever I call for more logic within the MCU, fans are so quick to say, “Hey, in the comics there are 89 heroes in one neighborhood and they never cross paths. So stop asking for logic. That’s just how comics are!“
So then allow me to turn that back around on those kinds of people:
In comics, continuities are always getting tweaked, reworked, retconned, and rebooted. There are elseworld tales, alternate timelines, and even alternate dimensions. So why not cut Fox a little slack if their stories sometimes feel like they don’t fit perfectly in with previous movies?
Why be so strictly pro-Comic Book when it comes to Marvel Studios, but so strict and snooty when it comes to Fox?
Think about it. If Fox wasn’t willing to mess with continuities and evolve on-the-fly…we would’ve never gotten Deadpool. And we wouldn’t be getting a film that looks as dynamite as Logan, either.
Of course, the greater issue here for Fox is that- now that they’re entering a new arena in terms of what their X-films will look and feel like- can they keep the level of quality consistently good or great, even? That remains the million dollar question. I’m willing to bet that if they start churning out stuff that’s as good as Deadpool and (hopefully) Logan, none of you are going whine about continuities anymore.
With all that said, what do you think of Mangold’s decision to set Logan in 2029, and will you be able to get absorbed into the story without wondering exactly how it all fits into place following X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse?