It’s recently been revealed that Wolverine 3 will not only be adapting the popular Old Man Logan storyline, it’s aiming for an R-rating to do it. This is great news not least because Wolverine could do quite a bit with an R-rating, even if some fans are curious how the story, which originally took place in a post-apocalyptic version of the Marvel universe, will play out with just the characters from the X-Men. In truth, Wolverine 3 is probably better off without most of the Marvel Universe.
The comic book Old Man Logan, a 2008 story arc written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven, is essentially a post-apocalyptic Western. Supervillains have finally gotten it together, taken out the superheroes, and divided America into little fiefdoms. Wolverine, having suffered a brutal trauma during the war that we won’t spoil here, is living in hiding with his family, and hasn’t used his claws since the villains took over. He takes a job delivering a mysterious case to make rent and gets tangled up in various disasters in the Wasteland along the way. The story was both hugely popular and enormously controversial among fans, as some found Millar’s depiction of various Marvel heroes and even villains somewhat off-putting or even goofy; at one point, Logan has to fight a dinosaur in a Venom suit.
But the concept, and how it explored Logan’s violent, lonely nature, was great. That said, a lot of the details of the story are out the window thanks to rights issues. Even if Disney was open to the idea of loaning out the Marvel characters it owns to Fox, which owns the rights to Wolverine, the X-Men, and other mutant characters, it’s doubtful they would allow a movie featuring a set of inbred Hulks or a blind, drug-dealing Hawkeye.
Still, there are plenty of stories here that don’t need Avengers or their villains. Already, the intriguing possibility of a Professor X who has lost faith in his doctrine of peaceful coexistence and becomes evil has been floated. Similarly, the movies haven’t explored what Magneto would do if he really did run the world and had humans under his thumb. Okay, he’s taken over the world and can protect mutants, encouraging a new species while keeping humans in their place. But then what? Is he a tyrant? A president? A king? Could he even keep control once he’s fighting not humans with guns, but his fellow mutants?
We also haven’t really seen a Wolverine with real roots and connections before, either. Part of the reason Old Man Logan works as a Wolverine story is that it explores what keeps Logan apart from people, something both Hugh Jackman and James Mangold, director of The Wolverine and Wolverine 3, seem eager to explore. It’d be a natural extension of the best parts of The Wolverine.
Really, the best comic book movies use the stories they’re based on as a starting point, and Wolverine 3 is, by necessity, in that position. The original comic had moments where it went so far over-the-top, it undermined the core idea and the fascinating exploration of Wolverine that made it stand out. With that largely off the table, it’ll be curious to see where they take not just Logan, but the other X-Men.