Wolverine is there best there is at what he does… and what he does is sell movie tickets. Since the release of X-Men eight years ago, it seemed like a no-brainer that there would be a Wolverine spin-off, given the popularity of the character. But how far will Twentieth Century-Fox take the concept of the X-spin-off?
X-Men Origins: Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman, is set to be released May 1st, 2009. Telling the tale of the mysterious mutant in his days prior to the X-Men, the movie has a seemingly endless cast of comic-related characters, many of whom could be transformed into additional feature films. It’s not hard to imagine a studio executive over at Fox rubbing their hands together at the thought of all those super-hero spin-offs in a time when the mask and cape formula is so in fashion.
Aside from the Jackman Wolverine franchise, that first X-Men movie opened the door to the entire mutant corner of the Marvel Universe. There was interesting talk of Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, Da Vinci Code, Firewall) starring in a Magneto prequel, and it picked up enough momentum that it is still listed on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com). David Goyer is currently attached as writer (the Blade trilogy, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) and as director (Blade: Trinity, The Invisible). It seems unrealistic that the movie will be able to still meet the listed 2009 release date. Goyer is a busy man, with a motion picture of DC’s The Flash in the works, and, as well, we can assume he will continue his writing contributions to the monstrously successful Batman film franchise.
As a fan, I want to see comic book movies get made, but I am simultaneously aware of the fickle nature of fashion in general. There is an inherent implication that anything that comes into fashion will also go out of fashion. It stands to reason that there is a finite life span on the mass consumption of the super-hero genre. Maybe it will be measured in years, or possibly in the number of film titles made. Regardless of the answer, it would be a shame to spend the limited film opportunities on anything but the best representatives of the genre. Some would argue that a strong 4th X-Men movie, placing the franchise back where it was prior to X3, should be a priority over other potential projects.
Audiences will have the opportunity to see actor Ryan Reynolds play the mercenary ‘Deadpool’ in the upcoming Wolverine flick. There is a palpable buzz about another spin-off showcasing Reynolds’ smart-ass style. But how would mass audiences view a ‘Deadpool’ feature film? We can agree that 90s fanboys would eat it up, but, despite their vocal presence on the internet, the audience is fairly small compared to the broader international market.
Fans and filmmakers alike witnessed the snowball effect as the super-hero movie genre grew with each success. Spider-Man helped sell X-Men, which helped sell Batman, which helped sell Iron Man, and so on, despite the difference in Marvel and DC branding.
Will audiences tire and get bored of the endless recycling of the same formula? Will movie studios use this opportunity to create films based on all the seminal mainstream characters before the well runs dry? Or will every one-dimensional anti-hero get their fifteen minutes of Hollywood fame? To learn the answer, stay tuned to an endless series of sequels and spin-offs to this very blog entry!