Over a year has passed since Deadpool lit up the box office, setting records for the month of February, R-rated films, and the X-Men franchise as a whole. Now Logan is experiencing similar, if not quite as overwhelming success. Are we entering the era of the R-rated superhero film, or is there something else about these two films that the genre should be learning?

Deadpool and Logan are so wildly different in tone that they could easily be from different cinematic universes. Logan leans away from colorful superhero costumes and antics Ė with its titular hero scoffing at the way his adventures are portrayed in comics. Meanwhile, Deadpool and his X-Men allies wear comic-accurate costumes and dive straight into explosive action, complete with superhero landings. But what these two movies have in common is that they donít shy away from the inherent trappings of each storyís vision. While the R-ratings may have removed some of these restrictions, another key factor is that (for the most part) these two movies were not created to sell toys, and they had more conservative budgets than the core X-Men movies. As side projects rather than central pillars of the franchise, Logan and Deadpool both had more freedom to get creative.

Of course, the R-rating helped this aspect on both accounts. Both Deadpool and Wolverine are heroes whose primary method of fighting involves slicing and dicing their enemies, and the fact that previous appearances for both characters tended to shy away from the fallout only lessened their impact on screen. Deadpoolís humor also didnít need profanity to be funny, but profanity is a natural extension of his personal brand of vulgarity. Even the Deadpool 2 teaserĎs primary humor comes from the scenario of allowing an old man to be shot while heís changing in a phone booth.

The X-Men franchise has often seemed to embrace its source material begrudgingly. The original film mocked the idea of yellow spandex while dressing the heroes in similarly absurd black leather. While subsequent films (including Deadpool) have done comic-accurate superhero costumes incredibly well, itís fitting that Logan moved away from a superhero look. The film was, after all, about failing to live up the legacy you inspire.

Deadpool and Logan each pushed the superhero genre further into unique directions than it had ever before. There have been plenty of films to poke fun at the superhero genre (The Meteor Man, Mystery Men, Kick-Ass), but none have been so well implemented as Deadpool. The tricky thing about parodies is that in order to be successful, they must understand and match the appeal of a genre, while having some fun at the expense of its tropes. Deadpool may point at the impracticality of the 3-point ďsuperhero landingĒ Ė but we still get to see that awesome superhero landing. Deadpool leans into superhero tropes because theyíre fun, and they get him closer to making cheeky observations that fans of the material will appreciate. The film wasnít an evisceration of the genre Ė itís an observation of why people like it, from the point-of-view of a hilarious nutjob.

Logan may not be the first R-rated superhero film, but itís likely the most mature. The distinction doesnít come from bloody violence, profanity, or nudity. These aspects may make a film unsuitable for children, but not necessarily mature (see Deadpool). Logan attains maturity by focusing on the struggles that adults deal with Ė the decay of health and closeness to death, the inglorious responsibility of caring for the weak and infirm, and the realization that you are your own worst enemy. Each of these aspects has been touched on in previous superhero films, but for Logan, itís the focus, and no world-ending conflict distracts from that.

Source: Screenrant.com