The Problem with Superhero Films: James Margold on “Logan” and Franchise Fatigue

The one thing that Kim Masters and James Margold, director of “The Wolverine” (2013) and “Logan” (2017), talk about on March 18th’s episode of The Business, it was the point of franchise fatigue and the problem with superhero films, namely, it is too cookie-cutter and repetitive. Hugh Jackman, Margold notes, was “very reticent because there was a level of dissatisfaction, he felt that with a good number of the (X-Men) pictures, not so much that he didn’t like them, but that he was hitting doubles and triples” (Masters and Margold 2017).

Margold, who directed “The Wolverine”, feels that because he directed that film, it made “Logan” work so well. “I think that I came back with a similar sense of ambivalence, like Hugh, and I really was not excited about playing from the Bible as it were with the movie, and I was creatively frustrated in the sense that I was denied the chance to make a movie more in my normal bailiwick which is a straight dramatic film for adults” (Masters and Margold 2017). One of the first things Margold did was pitch to the studio that the film was to be rated R, and that Hugh Jackman took a paycut and the film was made for less. One of the films saving graces was “Deadpool” however, Margold notes that this pitch was before “Deadpool”‘s release and the aforementioned work was due to Jim Gianopulos, former head of Fox, Stacey Synder, and Emma Watts:

“I think you can’t steal from them, which is a very realistic human observation, which is that they have to sit through these bloated movies as well and I don’t think anybody with a human brain and ears and eyes is not starting to think that more is not more; and that adding more heroes, more characters, more effects, more sound, I don’t think it is more. Everyone is doing press so often that they can’t say what they feel, they’re just selling. But the fact is that the unspoken feeling is that this is a very weird trajectory we’re on. Everyone is spending more, less is coming back, the movies aren’t as good.” (Masters and Margold 2017).

James Margold notes that Marvel, Fox, Sony, and most of the studios are part of the problem, noting that most superhero films (aside from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Iron Man” which he points are the exceptions) are generally “not movies”: “They’re bloated exercises in two hour trailers for another movie they’re going to sell you in two years. There’s so many characters that each character gets an arc of about six and a half minutes, at best, and I’m not exaggerating. You take 120 minutes, you take 45 of it for action, what are you left with, divide it by six characters you have the character arc of Elmer Fudd in a Warner Brothers’ cartoon” (Masters and Margold 2017).

The problem with superhero films is  over-saturation and repetitiveness. The reason why I personally have been critical of the superhero genre lately is because of what Margold is saying. It’s repetitive, old, and tiresome to see the exact same film just with different protagonist and a slightly different antagonist (who all seem to have a fetish for putting big gaping hole with a beam of light in the sky). “Logan”, thankfully, breaks that model and will hopefully usher in a more character driven superhero film that is less eye-candy and more focused on an actual emotive response. The old saying of less is more applies here, hopefully studios will start to use it more effectively in the future.


Work Cited

Masters, Kim, and James Margold. “James Margold on “Logan” and Fighting Franchise Fatigue.” Audio blog post. The Business. KCRW, 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 21 Mar. 2017.

 

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