What’s Next for the X-Men Franchise After ‘Logan’? Here Are Seven Potential Next Steps
When Logan finally fades to black, it brings Hugh Jackman’s 17-year run as Wolverine to a close. It is an emphatic and definitive ending, not just to Jackman’s Wolverine series, but also to the X-Men franchise as a whole.
Logan may play like a finale, and Jackman might really retire his claws and mutton chops (frankly, I’m dubious) but Fox is going to keep pumping out X-Men films with or without him. But with Jackman riding off into the sunset, where should Marvel’s Merry Movie Mutants go next? Here’s seven ideas from a big-time X-Men nerd and film fan.
1. It’s Time for a New X-Director
Even though Logan suggests a conclusion to a whole era of X-Men movies, there is still a seventh entry in the works, supposedly titled X-Men: Supernova, that would feature some of those characters from X-Men: Apocalypse redoing a version of the Dark Phoenix Saga previously adapted by X-Men: The Last Stand. At this point, it’s unclear whether Bryan Singer, who directed the first two and last two X-movies, will be back for a fifth go-around. (Another recent rumor has longtime X-Men writer/producer Simon Kinberg taking over the director’s chair.) After the thoroughly mediocre X-Men: Apocalypse, it might be time for a change of direction in more ways than one. Singer made some major contributions to the X-Men over the course of the last two decades, and those first two X-Men remain hugely important in the evolution of superhero cinema. But he’s had four cracks at it over 17 years, and Apocalypse in particular reeked of creative exhaustion. The franchise needs new ideas and new vision, sort of like when Storm beat Cyclops and took over leadership of the team.
2. Let’s See Some New Mutants (Literally and Figuratively)
If everything goes as planned, the next X-Men movie will be New Mutants, an adaptation of the 1980s series that saw Professor Xavier recruit a new batch of students for his School for Gifted Youngsters. This is a smart idea after the seeming finality of Logan. The worst thing Fox could do right now is pick things up with the same characters as if nothing has changed. The studio did recast younger versions of classic X-Men like Storm and Cyclops for Apocalypse, but the results were underwhelming. The X-Men universe is enormous, with all kinds of interesting characters who’ve never appeared onscreen before. With so many untapped stories and teams, why just keep rehashing the same handful of mutants? It’s time for new blood, both in front of and behind the camera.
3. Lighten Up, Guys.
I like a serious comic book movie as much as the next dork. But after the dark Days of Future Past, the bleak X-Men: Apocalypse, and the exceedingly grim Logan, it’s time for a change of pace. It’s not that those movies are bad (okay, X-Men: Apocalypse is kind of bad), but the thought of trying to one-up Logan in the graphic violence and adult content department has us thinking of the old Spinal Tap line: How much more black could this be? The answer is none. None more black. Having maxed out the franchise’s quota of sadness and brutality, it’s time for the pendulum to swing back the other way for a while. Deadpool proved there’s a big audience for a mutant movie that’s actually fun. How about the next X-movie starts with the whole team playing baseball?
4. Stop Jumping Around Between Decades
Maybe the strangest part of the recent X-Men movies is their insistence on setting each sequel in a different decade than the film that preceded it. X-Men: First Class was set in the 1960s, Days of Future Past took place in the ‘70s, Apocalypse happened in the 1980s. Deadpool was apparently set in the present day, and Logan is in the year 2029. The long stretches in between the movies onscreen don’t jive with the brief breaks between them offscreen, which means the characters barely age. In all likelihood, if that Supernova movie happens it’ll be set in the 1990s. That’ll be good for a couple cute jokes about period fashions, but it’ll also bring the series (and the actors playing “young” versions of established older characters) perilously close to the timing of the first X-Men, which was released in the summer of 2000. Trying to sort all of this out could give you a headache to rival a Professor X psychic attack. Right now, this series needs to simplify its timeline, not complicate it.
5. Please Stop Screwing With Continuity
The Wolverine of Logan has adamantium claws. But in the last Wolverine solo film, Logan’s adamantium claws were chopped off by Silver Samurai. Plenty of time passes between the two movies, so there are ways you can rationalize the discrepancy. Nonetheless, it’s yet another example of the X-Men film series’ absolutely abysmal continuity, which had grown so convoluted by X-Men: Apocalypse that I wrote an entire post about how its timeline made no sense. A good movie can overcome these kinds of continuity snafus (as Logan does) but it certainly makes its job harder. This note goes hand-in-hand with bringing in some new mutants; some of those old heroes are now so choked with confusing and sometimes contradictory backstories (like the two totally different Angels in X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Apocalypse) that further attempts to rewrite their history could really hurt casual fans’ interest in the franchise. If you want to reuse those iconic X-Men, maybe it’s best to just reboot? Speaking of which:
5. Maybe It’s Best to Just Reboot?
The X-Men series hit a bit of a creative dead-end after X-Men: The Last Stand. Eventually, producers worked around the whole “last” part (and the deaths of numerous major characters) by making prequels. But the franchise has almost caught up to itself, and even with the timeline fudging that happened in Days of Future Past, the longer the franchise continues, the more baffling it gets. I’m generally not a huge fan of reboots, but it may be the X-Men’s best option if the alternative is further pretzeling its timeline and characters. And if a reboot is inevitable (because reboots are inevitable in all franchises these days), you might as well do it now, with Logan providing an emotional sendoff for Wolverine, Professor X, and the rest of the 1.0 X-Men. There’s never going to be a better time to wipe the slate clean. There’s one caveat here, though:
7. Wait As Long as You Can to Reboot Wolverine
Let’s get real here: There is absolutely zero chance that Hugh Jackman’s retirement as Wolverine means that the character is also retired. It might take years or it might take decades, but Wolverine will be back. If Fox was smart, though, they would hold off on casting a new Weapon X for at least a little while. No actor is more closely associated with a superhero, with the possible exception of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, as Jackman and Wolverine. Anyone cast in the role is going to have giant claws to fill, and the inevitable comparisons will be brutal, particularly if the studio rushes to recast the role. Give the character, and Logan’s amazing ending, room to breathe. There’s going to be a right time and place to bring him back. But it won’t be any time soon.