Let’s Talk About X, Baby
Yes, this is another column about Logan. But more specifically, it’s about the impact that Logan, Deadpool, and FX’s Legion show have had on the X-Men franchise at Fox. All three of these properties are wildly different, but they share three things: they’re entertaining, have a very clear vision, and are completely different from any other X-Men product Fox has produced. In an entertainment world that has valued the idea of “shared universes”, you would think that this strategy would work counter for the studio, but I honestly thing it’s emboldened them to try new things, and maybe even show Fox that there’s no need for the X-Men movies to try and copy what Marvel and Warner Bros are doing.
I mean, it’s not like Fox was doing very well at setting up an X-Men universe to begin with. I’ll spare you from reading me go through the long (and confusing) timeline of the Fox X-Men universe again, but trust me when I say that whatever ideas of a shared universe to come from X-Men: Apocalypse clearly didn’t work. After all of the good will that First Class and Days of Future Past gave Fox and First Class producer/DOFP director Bryan Singer, it was pretty quickly squandered in Apocalypse. It’s clear that Fox wanted Apocalypse to be the next installment of the new movie universe after DOFP, but too much of it just didn’t add up with the movie that came before it and the new timeline that it started.
Plus the addition of Deadpool to the franchise doesn’t help clear much up either. From a Colossus that is clearly very different from the one we saw in X2 and The Last Stand to poking fun at Origins’ use of Merc with a Mouth, it’s pretty easy to make the claim that Deadpool in no way, shape, or form is a part of the new universe. But for a character like Deadpool, that’s completely fine. Hell, it worked in that movie’s favor, as it allowed Wade Wilson to take shots at the wonkiness of the franchise’s timelines.
The latest addition to the X-Men franchise weirdness is Legion, which is a fantastic series that makes illusions to a larger mutant world without being too direct (David Haller is the son of Charles Xavier after all). But while Legion may make you wonder about how it directly ties into the movies, it’s not something that matters at all. In fact, Legion being separate from the movies benefits the show, as it allows show runner Noah Hawley to really dig deep into X-Men lore and focus on characters that people wouldn’t get the chance to see before.
Of course, I promised I’d talk about Logan, and despite probably repeating myself, the strength of that movie is just how damn bleak it is, while remaining hopeful. It’s a movie that is clearly made with a lot of input from Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold, and it’s obvious that they were given a lot of free reign to tell the story how they wanted to, and they created something that has a huge emotional impact, regardless of how many X-Men movies you’ve seen.
If Fox really DOES want to give the shared universe a real try, they could do worse than using Deadpool as the new entry point character. His movie is clearly the biggest success that the studio has had, and people really responded to Ryan Reynolds. Plus, now that Hugh Jackman is done, he’s the only star they have left. But one of the benefits of Deadpool, Legion, and Logan is that you could watch any one of these with no prior knowledge of the X-Men franchise at all. Sure, Logan may not leave as much of an impact on you that way, but you’d still be able to pick up on every major beat that’s in the movie. Maybe this singular vision method of handling the X-Men property is Fox’s new take on future movies. While they’d lose out on people who are looking for another universe or connected films, it might also be a gamble that pays off, as there are a LOT of “shared universes” being thrown at audiences now, and by making each film stand on its own, you potentially open up to a wider audience who otherwise may have been afraid that they missed out on something important from a previous movie. It remains to be seen if this is Fox’s plan, but for now I’m just happy that we have some solid non-comic X-Men entertainment again.