'Wolverine 3': What It Means for the 'X-Men' Franchise

With much of the details surrounding the newest installment in the X-Men franchise, next Spring's cryptic Wolverine sequel Logan, still remaining in the shadows, a handful of vague images and characters continue to trickle into sight as filming wraps on the 2017 project. With the latest images revealing the return of the resourceful mutant Caliban (who had a minor role in this year's X-Men: Apocalypse), as well as a sense of what kind of desolate environment we will find our clawed protagonist in the film, The Wolverine director James Mangold hasn't let much slip from the darkness concerning his secretive sequel. But with the mysterious details and plot elements we have gotten out of the film so far, it already looks like Logan could be just as radical and ground-breaking a project from Marvel and 20th Century Fox as this year's Deadpool. But what does this mean from the character of Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men franchise? That's a more difficult quarry to decipher than one might think. 

Loosely based on the 2008 comic-book storyline Old Man Logan, which found an aged Logan in the year 2033 living in the barren wasteland of Sacramento, California, Logan follows Hugh Jackman's hostile and violent mutant through a time in his life where his charisma and once-animalistic nature have all but deteriorated. With the comic storyline surrounding a similar disappearance of most of the mutant population of the world, the film paves a new plot that finds a weary Logan tackling the likes of the mysterious Essex Corporation, who have hunted down countless mutants in hopes of turning them into weapons. Forced to intervene after years of solitude and inactivity with his metallic claws, Logan must utilize the help of fellow mutants Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) -- as well as his own untamed methods -- to track down the villainous corporation.

Along with Caliban and Xavier, mutant X-23 and villain
Nathanial Essex/Mister Sinister are also set to appear in the film
Set to return to the Wolverine character with his newest film, director James Mangold plans to put to use both his knowledge of the popular comic-book character, and his experience with western action films, in order to craft an intriguing blend of washed-up superheroes and desolate tales of the Wild West. The director of both 2013's compelling sequel-of-sorts The Wolverine, as well as 2007's gritty western revenge tale 3:10 to Yuma, Mangold is, ideally, the perfect choice to direct what looks to be an old Clint Eastwood western spun on its ear. Dwelling in a cryptic darkness that has fans all across the world begging to find out what Mangold's next round with the clawed mutant will be, the only solid intel we've gotten from the director is a brief synopsis and a handful of greyscale photos. While none of this really tells us how this film will compare to the rest of the nine films in the X-Men series, one thing is for sure is that I'm very glad to see Mangold return, his effective skill for storytelling armed and ready to deliver another riveting Wolverine film.

While we may not know how Logan might stand alongside other films in the mutant-centric franchise, nor how it will stand against Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe come next year, one thing that's blatantly clear is that this film looks like no other we've seen before from the series. With much of the X-Men film-verse tackling everything from teenage angst and mutant discrimination to time travel and ancient horsemen, Logan looks to dive into a more gritty real-world atmosphere, one that isn't afraid to get its hands a little dirty. Spinning a tale of a washed-up Wolverine who has nearly lost his will to live, in a future where mutants are almost a thing of the past, this film is set to show us the character like we've never seen on-screen. Set apart from his sarcastic charisma as an on-again-off-again team player for the X-Men, and engulfed in a greater mentality of torment and regret than we saw in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this film -- with its R-rating now set in stone -- looks like it plans to offer up a demoralized version of the character, one that has to regain a false hope when his home and past are threatened.

What does a morally-broken and hopeless Wolverine mean for the film's setting and tone? Judging by the many ambiguous and gloomy images that continue to float around this film -- which include hints at not only the film's location in El Paso, Texas, but also the western-meets-neo-noir tone that could play out in the film -- Logan aims to offer us a desolate and fractured landscape compared to the modern cityscapes and Cold War settings we got in films like Deadpool and 2011's X-Men: First Class. With this handful of grim photos hinting at the radical new tone in the franchise as well, one image in particular hints at a unique element that was just recently introduced into the films. With the image, tweeted by Mangold, showing us a peek at a page in the film's script, the wording of the script teases the potential for the film to take on a similar tone of Deadpool, with its writing offering up a very meta and hyper-aware feel -- almost like its characters (like the Merc with a Mouth) know they're in a movie. Whether that means we'll see Hugh Jackman's Wolverine talking to the camera in a sarcastic banter or not, the writing, tone, and setting of the film already seem to be dynamic changes from what we've seen from the X-Men films.

With the film donning a refined R-rating as well, there's really no telling to what levels an uncensored and unhinged character like Wolverine could go in a project such as this, especially when there's murderous corporations and the untamed realm of the Mexican border on his doorstep. With the released images also teasing at the grisly violence that's set to pop up in the film (e.g. A shotgun-toting thug's severed arm lying among the trampled footsteps in the sand), Logan aims to set itself apart from Deadpool's playful but gruesome ultra-violence with a more grounded and real-world approach. With the character's past film appearances toning down his animalistic habit of dismembering foes just for pissing him off to a grisly but contained level, the R-rated platform that garnered Deadpool its great success (even among the kiddies) could be the perfect send-off for Jackman and the character he molded to near-perfect on-screen.

While the overall impact of what Wolverine's newest sequel has on 20th Century Fox and their respective Marvel universe might still be up in the air, there's no doubt that the Mad Max-esque tone of Spring 2017's Logan will be another violent contender to go up against not only its partner-in-crime Deadpool, but also the R-rated superhero genre as a whole. With its cryptic images teasing a visually-stunning portrait of a burnt-out dystopian future, and its cast of mutants (and cyborg assassins!) already shaping up to dazzle on the big screen, next year's highly-anticipated continuation of the X-Men franchise could be the most fascinating one yet!

What are your thoughts on the newest Wolverine sequel? How do you interpret the film's cryptic gallery so far? Are you desperately awaiting our first teaser trailer for the film? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below, and stay tuned for more intel from the film coming soon!       

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