Weekend Forecast for March 3-5, 2017
By Reagen Sulewski
March 3, 2017
The first of what looks like five massive weekends in a very summer-looking March schedule sees what may be the swan song of a beloved character (at least by its original actor) leading the way. We're all benefiting from the year-round scheduling idea now.
In the world of the X-Men franchise, the continual failure to be able to produce a top flight Wolverine standalone movie has been a puzzler (though to be honest, and possibly unpopular opinion here, they're basically one for six in the regular series anyway). Logan seems like it may have cracked that adamantium-coated nut by going after the Old Man Logan story crossed with X-23 (ask your closest nerd). Set in the future, it sees a grizzled Wolverine dealing with a world in which most mutants have been killed, and he's on the run and/or in hiding. Enter a sick and dying Professor X with a favor to ask, that he protect a little girl that seems to share some deep similarities to him. Meanwhile, those abilities have attracted the attention of some very bad people who'd like to use her in much the same way Logan was used before.
Just from that description, there's not much to signal that it's all that different from any previous X-Men movie, but it's the execution of this idea where it seems to stand out. Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, Cop Land, and the semi-okay previous Wolverine movie), it almost takes the form of an indie road movie, interspersed with ultra-violent, Peckinpah-ish battle scenes. Hugh Jackman, at nearly 50 and tired of the regimen it requires to play the part, has said this will be his last time in the role, leaving him free to put all the baggage of the nearly two decades of this role into the film, and making it a film about family and regret and choices – in other words, the rare superhero movie that's actually *about* something other than action. Carrying the consequences of his life as a warrior, he's a nearly broken man despite being nearly indestructible.
At 77, there's a good chance this is Patrick Stewart's last turn as Professor X as well, piling another bit of pathos onto the film. It's also helped along by some superior trailers and commercials, and what would have been the best reviews of the year if not for last week's Get Out. The 2013 version of this franchise had a sharp drop off from the rest of the X-Men franchise, no doubt reeling from the sizzling garbage pile that the 2009 movie was, one of the things that almost killed the brand completely for the movies. Creatively, this seems to be a big, big win, though how much of that turns into box office is a big question. One can look at the jump from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight as an example of a recovering franchise, though there's a looser connection here between Logan and its previous films. It is, however, a story than X-Men fans have been dying to see turned into a film, and the apparent respect and seriousness of the treatment should be a major boon to its box office. I see a return to something closer to that 2009 number, with around $77 million.