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'R' You Ready: James Mangold Talks About How He Made 'Logan' R-Rated

With the hotly anticipated R-rated Wolverine movie, how did James Mangold sneak that tricky rating past the Hollywood censors?

'Logan' [Credit:20th Century Fox]

If it ain't broke don't fix it, but it if it's broke, burn it down and start again. In 2013 James Mangold was set the impossible task of scooping up the charred remains of Weapon-X from Gavin Hood's X-Men Origins: Wolverine and crafting some sort of sequel. Sending #Wolverine on a violent vacation to Japan, Mangold excelled in turning The Wolverine into something of its own entity rather than trying to salvage what was left after Origins. Even though Mangold wasn't happy with the finished product, The Wolverine was a much improved title, so when it came to directing a third chapter in #HughJackman's solo films, Mangold was clearly the right choice.

With an in-depth knowledge of the character of Wolverine, and his own spin on the story, Mangold's interpretation of the lycra-clad X-Man is closer to his gritty comic roots than the standard #XMen series. As Mangold's time behind Weapon X comes to a close, he promises to bring Jackman's 17-year reign as the clawed Canadian to a suitable close with a blaze of blood and bromance. So, with the hotly anticipated R-rated Wolverine movie, how did Mangold sneak that tricky rating past the Hollywood censors?

X-Rated X-Men

'Logan' [Credit:20th Century Fox]

The blood-soaked pages of comic books can sometimes be hard to bring to our screens, while the likes of the Avengers, Justice League, and the X-Men have arguably been watered down into family-friendly affairs for mass appeal. R-rated #comicbook movies like Barb Wire, Punisher: War Zone, and Spawn were unafraid to do their own thing, but also represent some of the weaker entries in comic book movies. Elsewhere, the likes of V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and Kingsman: The Secret Service have all been brilliant, but R-rated comic book movies rarely have that elusive cocktail of fanboy and mainstream appeal — that was until 2015.

Deadpool broke the mold as highest grossing R-rated film of all time and set the bar high for what Logan could become. While Logan looks to be a lot lighter on the toilet humor and sex jokes, it is a safe bet that it could continue the trend of successful R-rated movies with a noir approach. The idea of an R-rated Wolverine movie was first pitched around the time of The Wolverine and in his latest interview, Mangold says it was a huge relief to see his vision finally realized:

"We all sat watching this movie in the last stages of the cut and said we can’t believe we got away with this...All of us recognize that the movie feels, to us, very personal, very intimate, very handcrafted. I mean, let’s put it another way, which was quite intentional: I was not coming back, nor was Hugh Jackman, to make a kind of artifact that exists to both continue a kind of DVD suite that they sell every year in a package. To move toys and t-shirts, and to kind of just facilitate the further marketing of a franchise."

Certainly the battle scenes we have seen so far, including Dafne Keen's arrival as razor-edged child Laura Kinney, prove it's is not the kind of film you want to show to grandma.

Not another superhero movie.

'Logan' [Credit:20th Century Fox]

With Logan offering a new twist on a character we all think we know, the 53-year-old director also spoke out on his anger at those who see Logan as just another tool for Fox to throw in some X-Men. In particular he referenced the rumors of Mr. Sinister and Deadpool, while addressing the fact that there are NO #superhero costumes in his concluding chapter:

"Well, it was less angry and more it’s very important that people are prepared for what this movie is...When I made Cop Land many years ago, I had the disappointment of feeling like we made this very serious film, but the fact that Sly was the lead – I think he’s amazing in the movie, but it had this very interesting effect on biggest fear is that, in some ways, people anticipate just another movie, and then they’re suddenly shocked."

Logan may be loosely based on Mark Millar's Old Man Logan, but seeing an aged Hugh Jackman will be about where the similarities end. With the Old Man Logan storyline involving visceral imagery like decapitating Red Skull with Captain America's shield, bursting out of the inside of Hulk, and battling T-Rexes, bringing such tall tales to our screen would have been near impossible. Instead, Mangold has used the Old Man Logan comics as a jumping off point, only taking elements like having a world where mutants have been all but eradicated and Wolverine is pushed to his limits.

So, it really looks like Mangold isn't fibbing — no dinosaurs, no Mr. Sinister, no costumes, no post-credits. Hats off to him, not many directors are able to craft a film that is so much their baby and free from outside interference. With Logan really being the last chapter of the Wolverine saga, I guess it gives everyone involved a bit of leeway to do whatever the hell they want!

Whether or not Logan is the start of Dafne Keen's journey into the X-verse (it most certainly is), one thing is for sure, the gloves are off and the claws are out in a final round in Xavier's wheelchair, for a film that promises to live up to its R-rating.

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'R' You Ready: James Mangold Talks About How He Made 'Logan' R-Rated
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