Logan is a Western because of audiences' exhaustion with "formulaic" superhero movies, says director

Logan, the last hurrah for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, avoids many of the superhero genre’s current cliches by embracing an entirely different aesthetic and emulating something that no superhero film has attempted on this scale before: a Western. In a new interview with SFX Magazine, writer/director James Mangold explains how his movie shies away from what we’re expecting and has more in common with films of the 1950s and ‘60s than it does with things like The Avengers.

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“When Chris Nolan made the Batman movies, they were noir films,” Mangold says. “We’re making kind of a Western... For me, the key is not to think about making a comic-book movie but to think about making a movie and just let the fact that your characters are superheroes be a reality.”

“The studio recognised a kind of exhaustion setting in with the formulaic format for quote-unquote superhero movies,” he continued. “While people are coming to see them, there is a sense that people are getting tired. We were very encouraged to try something different.”

Mission accomplished. I saw an early screening of Logan, and it absolutely feels more like a classic Western than a current superhero movie. Replace Wolverine’s claws with a pair of six-shooters and tweak a couple of minor plot elements, and Logan could easily stand alongside movies like 1953’s Shane - a film that’s heavily referenced in multiple scenes in this movie.

The fact that Mangold was allowed to put his stamp on this story instead of being forced to conform to mandates speaks volumes about the way 20th Century Fox respects Jackman’s history with this role (not to mention the boatloads of cash he’s made for them over the years) and how they’re willing to give filmmakers room to breath when handling some of their biggest characters.

That experimentation paid off in a big way. Logan is one of the best films of the past few years, a bold, stylish Western that leans on the audience’s history with Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier to enhance its emotional moments. That’s something no blue beam in the sky could have replicated.

Logan is in theaters now. Read more about it in the latest edition of SFX Magazine, on sale now.

Images: 20th Century Fox, SFX

Ben Pearson
Ben is an entertainment journalist who has written about movies online for nearly a decade. He loves the Fast & Furious franchise, prefers Indiana Jones to Star Wars, and will defend the ending of Lost until his dying day. He shook Bill Murray's hand once (so he's got that going for him, which is nice). Ben lives in Los Angeles with his wife.