How to do Old Man Logan for Fox

How to do Old Man Logan for Fox

SPOILERS. An exploration of how to successfully adapt Mark Millar's western, dystopian epic WITHOUT using characters from the MCU...

When Hugh Jackman solicited fans for ideas regarding what they wanted out of his final Wolverine film, the call for an adaptation of Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan was rather overwhelming.  As a screenwriter, seeing the outcry from the fanbase for that story to make it to screen got me thinking of ways it might be possible to tell an emotionally faithful rendition of the tale despite the various legal entanglements preventing certain characters from appearing.
 
What I think resonates the most with people about this story is Logan’s arc—from haunted and guilt-ridden pacifist back to vengeful, bloodthirsty warrior, before ending with a moment of redemption and absolution for Logan as he regains his purpose.  None of that emotional journey needs to change, but the steps he takes to get there and what elements of a dystopian, Marvel Universe future (the other key appealing factor for most) are explored is the real puzzle.
 
Whereas Millar’s original tale indulged in oddball surprises and call-backs to iconic characters from all over the 616 universe, a final Wolverine film will instead need to chiefly serve, reference, and close the narrative threads of the X-Men cinematic world and Logan’s evolution through it.  The Old Man Logan story is fitting because the epic nature of the “villains have won,” post-apocalyptic setting helps the audience digest a grander, more emphatic style of storytelling and visual world…which will finally bring an X-Men movie away from the more grounded aesthetic, necessarily established by Singer, and into the heightened, more imaginative reality of the comics, where anything is possible. 
 
It would also be important, given that this will be Hugh’s parting performance, to trade Millar’s bombastic, “shock the reader” style of storytelling for something a bit more elegant and dramatically resonant.  Old Man Logan has its roots, to be generous, in Unforgiven, so hitting that tone shouldn’t be too difficult.  The challenge this time around, instead, becomes: what is Logan’s key internal battle? 
 
To me, it would seem obvious.  The defining characteristic that has made Wolverine such an enduringly popular and powerful character to mine through the years is his embodiment of Man’s Duality…is he, in fact, a man, or is he a beast?  Is he a slave to his genetic makeup and instincts, the animal so many dismiss him to be…or can he strive to be something better?  Can Charles’s lessons and Logan’s interactions with people who finally care for rather than scorn him help him to evolve and finally make peace with his identity?  Or will instinct, bloodlust, and that berserker rage ultimately win out?
 
Somehow, all these questions so essential to this character, the very crux of the Japanese tale, have never been seriously addressed in the films or even ever really articulated.  I’d say in his final outing, it would be about time.   So, what I’ve come up with attempts to accomplish all of these objectives: giving Logan a compelling, final arc; taking advantage of the alternate-universe setting to surprise audiences with character reveals and a new, larger visual pallet; and, finally, fittingly bringing the lights down on a beloved performance and screen legacy with a resonant and satisfying conclusion. 

I have written a complete breakdown of the full film in treatment form, which can be found here:

https://carlreid00.wordpress.com/

A few highlights of some of the key changes made to fit the needs of the adaptation are below--

1. Change the Hulk gang to the Creeds



As much as we would love to see Hugh Jackman's Logan face-off with The Hulk (in any incarnation) in his final outing, we must accept that is sadly not the reality we live in.  Marvel would never relinquish their Avengers ace-in-the-hole to Fox so that he could be depicted as an aged, incestuous villain who is ultimately torn to shreds from within by Wolverine.  The Fox vs. Marvel Studios metaphor there alone is enough to make Marvel pass.  However, there are equally satisfying alternatives…

In the comics, Logan has no greater nemesis, beside himself, than Victor Creed.  For decades, no one else has proven better capable of testing Logan and pushing him to his emotional nadir than Sabretooth.  The films went so far as to make Victor Logan's brother (something which, honestly, should have been done in Origins with the Dog character), which adds a layer of pathos and complexity that would be absent from even the best balls-to-the-wall brawl with the jade giant.

And setting Creed's sadistic, malevolent kin against Logan's innocent, pacifist offspring further plays out the Man vs. his nature dichotomy, each faction representing the dueling aspects of Logan's psyche--his civilized inclinations battling against the innate, feral instincts that constantly threaten to destroy him and those he loves.  In ultimately defeating Sabretooth, his darkest shadow, Logan finally tames the animal within to achieve transcendence and a sense of lasting peace with who and what he really is.  

The fact that they are brothers also adds an emotional resonance and provides the opportunity for a fitting conclusion to storylines and themes left hanging from the first Wolverine film...retroactively redeeming that film (to a slight extent) by making it relevant to Wolverine's final psychological journey.  It would nicely close the narrative loop to find, somewhere in the distant future, an endnote to the centuries' long relationship of these two brothers that began far back in distant past.  

2. Change Logan’s murdered wife to Storm and make it the film’s inciting incident:


 
Rather than have Logan be a reluctant farmer who accepts Hawkeye’s offer in order to make rent to the Hulk gang, why not start things off with a bang, when the reformed and guilt-ridden Logan’s family is torn apart at the hands of the Creeds?  Making them children that he had with Storm (a film incarnation known and appreciated by the audience rather than some random woman) makes their deaths all the more tragic and impacting. 

What ensues then, in place of a carbon copy of Bill Munny’s emotional arc in Unforgiven, would instead become a thrilling revenge tale, where Logan struggles once again to recover his humanity and purpose for living after all he had has been so violently torn away.  By popping his claws early on, fans are treated to a savage, despairing, and unfathomably angry Wolverine for the full feature, hell-bent on lashing out at those responsible for ruining the world.  It’s a ride I think many would be happy to buy a ticket for.
 
3.  Substitute Hawkeye with Rogue:
 


Anna Paquin’s Marie is arguably the main character of the first X-Men film, where the unknown Aussie actor Hugh Jackman was introduced to the world as her co-lead.  They both served as points of entry for the audience into Bryan Singer’s X-Men universe, which has only grown in scope and popularity in the ensuing decade and a half.  What more fitting pair to end Hugh’s reign on than the one that kicked the whole thing off: Logan and Rogue? 
 
As one of the only X-Men left, she would be forced to grow into a leader in her own right, that evolution of character a very long way from the timid and terrified girl who first entered the X-Mansion so long ago.  This would also finally give fans the opportunity to see Rogue do some damage, when she is, at long last, granted the devastating power we’ve been waiting to see her wield.  As two, kindred outsiders beloved by these films’ fans, the dramatic potential in exploring the resolution to their relationship is far too great to pass up.  
 
4. Replace The Red Skull with Doctor Doom:


 
Now, as of this weekend, this suddenly may seem like a risky endeavor for Fox…  Though Toby Kebbell is a supremely talented actor, to say that his Doom didn’t resonate with either critics or fans would be an understatement.  However, the raw hunger to see Dr. Doom, in all his glory, finally delivered authentically on screen is even stronger now than ever.  An older, future incarnation of Doom presents this opportunity for a proper reintroduction. 
 
One silver lining in the unparallel disaster of the new film is that it introduced audiences to the notion of the Fantastic Four as inter-dimensional travelers.  Unable to conquer his reality due to Reed Richards’s hypothetical interference, Doom could opt to take over a vulnerable, unsuspecting universe where Reed doesn’t exist.  Just how he does it and that he’s the one behind it would be mysteries slowly revealed through the course of the film, but the revelation of a comics-faithful Doom by the film’s end and the ultimate battle between Doom and Wolverine (and maybe a few other, intriguing characters…) could prove a hell of a way to deliver on Old Man Logan’s alternate-future promise and to get fans excited about the possibilities of a well-made FF movie, once again (for further ideas on how to do that…I might consider writing another article).
 
5. Remember that this is an ode to the X-Men films and not the entire Marvel Universe:



As stated before, perhaps the biggest change in theme and intent for a Fox version of Old Man Logan would be its general reason to exist.  Mark Millar was interested in exploring what an alternate-616 reality would look like if all the villains had won and decimated America.  He used a western story starring Wolverine to serve as a narrative through-line amid that backdrop. 
 
Here, however, the roles are reversed.  This is chiefly the final story of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and in some ways, a proposed final story for Bryan Singer’s X-Men universe—a universe that we all acknowledge will profoundly change without Hugh Jackman as its anchor.  Therefore, the task in writing the adaptation becomes finding interesting ways to explore the X-Men cinematic universe (and whichever unused elements of the X-Men comic universe you choose to draw from) in a powerful, dystopian context, rather than checking off cameos for Marvel staples and showing what became of them throughout. 
 
One of the things that really intrigued me was the possible premise of: what if Doom, though an alliance with Magneto (don’t worry, his longevity would be explained), made it so that mutants (whose numbers would have increased drastically by this future period, anyway) were the dominant species?  And what if, with Charles gone, things didn’t turn out as our mutant heroes had quite envisioned...?
 
For answers to those questions and more, feel free to check out my full outline of this proposed film.  I hope you enjoy it, should you give it a read.  What do you guys think? How would you make a Fox Old Man Logan work?  Let me know in the comments!
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