Blame Fox for Robbing Us of the First R-Rated X-Men Film
The X-Men film series could’ve been much more adult-oriented years back.
The Wolverine trilogy, starring Hugh Jackman in the titular role, feels like three separate movies that are jumbled together for some reason, even though they are from entirely different universes.
Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was off to a rocky start with its cliched story full of plot holes, but it did one thing right – it gave Hugh Jackman’s character a much-needed popularity boost so that his adventures could continue in James Mangold’s The Wolverine, which received a lot more praise from critics and audiences alike.
However, the second installment of the Wolverine trilogy was originally intended to be much gorier and less CGI-packed. Both the director and the star wanted the movie to become the first R-rated X-Men film, and yet it was a few years too soon.
In a 2017 interview with Dan of Geek (via /Film), Mangold admitted that they had hoped to convince the Fox executives that The Wolverine’s rating needed to be higher, and if they had succeeded, they would’ve had “the freedom to make an adult film.”
According to the director, as soon as a movie gets an R and cannot be marketed toward children, the creative forces behind the film can do a lot more – write deeper scenes with more complicated language and ideas.
Why did The Wolverine end up being PG-13-rated then? Well, in 2013, these kinds of superhero movies were just becoming popular with younger audiences, following The Avengers’ success one year prior. Mangold believed that he wasn’t “quite as sharp-elbowed” as he could’ve and should’ve been to get that R for Jackman’s second big outing.
Fox decided against a higher rating, but audiences can still spot bits and pieces of the filmmaker’s original vision, which made the movie that much more unique at the time. Still, the studio was concerned that an abundance of “Japanese noir” elements, which Mangold called their “best asset,” would make The Wolverine more niche, and that’s not what it aimed toward back then.
Fortunately, by 2017, the Fox bosses seemingly changed their minds about R-rated superhero movies, and viewers got the masterpiece that was Logan, which is still considered one of the greatest superhero films in history by many prominent critics.