‘X-Men Origins’ and ‘The Wolverine’ Were Almost Rated R Films Way Before ‘Deadpool’

Feb 17, 2016

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There’s some ignorant notion going around that Wolverine 3‘s potential R rating has a direct connection to Deadpool‘s huge opening weekend, that really nobody saw coming, let alone the studio. Just a couple weeks ago trades thought the film wouldn’t open much higher than $60 million, while it ended-up earning $152 million over the four day weekend.

4bb54d1f3081eThis Reddit image going around seemingly confirms the film’s R-rating, but would have been put to print way before the increased estimates for Deadpool‘s opening weekend, let’s just ignore that bit of logic for the sake of headlines and ill-informed opinions.

We’ve known that Wolverine 3 was coming even before Deadpool it’s rating or even getting greenlight, there had been hints for years that they could tackle the notoriously hyper-violent Mark Millar comic book run Old Man Logan. Before signing on to the third film Jackman confirmed in 2014, that he and Jim Mangold were looking at adapting the comic book run.

“That’s crossed my mind. That’s totally crossed my mind. By the way, Jim and I did look at “Old Man Logan,” because I’m rapidly approaching it and when I’m training at 4 o’clock in the morning I think, That’s the only story I can do. It’s interesting. And I should be careful about saying, “Ah, I’m done.” Because I could see myself doing a version of that, actually. Of just saying, “You know what, I’m done for now, and somebody could play the part, but down the track I could come back.” That’s very cool, actually.” 

Hugh Jackman seemingly further confirmed Old Man Logan getting adapted during last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, way before the tracking started for Deadpool or any official footage had been released. The story would need a huge overhaul, but there had been assumptions that Patrick Stewart‘s Xavier could be taking over the Hawkeye role.

 

***SUNDAY CALENDAR STORY FOR APRIL 6, 2014. DO NOT USE PRIOR TO PUBLICATION**********Dan Weiss and David Benioff, creators of the show Game of Thrones. Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO.

I say ignorant because X-Men Origins: Wolverine was originally conceived as an R-rated film, as Game of Thrones co-creator and showrunner David Benioff (Troy, 25th Hour) was hired to pen the script in 2004. He would attempt to adapt the violent Weapon X comic and the solo Wolverine run by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, with a “darker and brutal” version of character’s origin writing an R-rated script. Hugh apparently collaborated with David, so it wasn’t like he went rogue and did something people weren’t asking him to do.

That said, Benioff did say he wants to “rough” Wolverine/Jackman up a bit, giving him an opportunity to show sides the first two movies didn’t afford the character aside from the Mansion invasion scene in X2. Promising his story will be a “bit darker and a bit more brutal”, Benioff says he’s writing an ‘R’ script and that Marvel Studios and director will have to decide where to go from there.

Essentially, the franchise’s roots started out as being more geared towards a mature audience, so it’s not some quick reaction to Deadpool‘s success, as some bloggers would have you believe. If you know the source material, it does allow for a darker toned movie and even more violence. I don’t really see them turning the film into some over-the-top action comedy.

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Fox producer Tom Rothman, known for his meddling, would come in and hire Hitman writer Skip Woods to overhaul David’s Origins script completely, I’m doubtful the final product looked anything like the original draft. The producers (Rothman) and director Gavin Hood were said to be responsible for gutting his script for a PG-13 rating, and it turning it into one of the worst X-Men films.

Rothman’s reign of micromanaging wouldn’t stop there, as he would have Hood’s sets completely redone to make them more lighter and less scary, the producer was known for his distain for the comic book movies and actively attempted to put up as many roadblocks to their success as possible.

Producer Lauren Shuler Donner and others have admitted that they’ve actively moved forward to remove the film from X-Men cannon. Although, without Origins and Benioff including Deadpool into his draft, it’s unlikely we’d have Deadpool and Gambit solo films.

The Wolverine, was another PG-13 outing for the character, but they shot the film as R for the home video audience in mind, even though it was going to have a PG-13 release. The cut was well received by fans, who then championed and campaigned the next installment to go full R. To me it seemed like a push from the creative team to pump-up the idea of going R next time, something fans have been actively supporting for years.

 

You can see it wasn’t just digital blood added, they used squibs, an effect of a villain getting Logan’s claws going through their throat and saw ninjas diced by a snow plow Fargo-style. Stuff shot on set, and not just done during post-production.

Hugh Jackman did admit to MovieFone that he talked about going R with original director Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem For A Dream), and then his replacement James Mangold. Revealing that first cut was indeed R-rated, and it was his choice not to go that route not Fox, while stating he was still open to the idea.

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“We had a long discussion, Darren and I, as did Jim and I, about making The Wolverine R-rated.”

“They [20th Century Fox] were open to it, actually. It didn’t scare them off, as long as we have a good reason for it. I was the one to call it off. In a way, I would love to do it — if there was ever a character that would necessitate an R-rated version. But I’m the one who, every day of my life, meets 12, 13, 14-year-olds. I see in their eyes how I used to feel about Indiana Jones. So for me to say, “You know what, this next movie, it’s not for you” — I would have to have a really good reason for it. So we made the movie without a rating in mind, and the first cut, let me tell you, we had trouble. It was definitely R-rated. So in the end, we just snuck on the side of it, but that’s why we released the unrated cut on Blu-ray.”

I’m curious how much of that quote is the truth, versus a diplomatic answer by taking the blame. It should be noted Tom Rothman was involved with The Wolverine as well. However, it’s been said that Hugh Jackman has been opposed to the mature rating on both films, and could have actually been the one to push for it now and not just the studio.

Considering Hugh Jackman has been mulling-over an R rating for twelve years, can you really say with a straight face that Fox woke-up last week and decided on a dime due to Deadpool to cave-in? Hugh was actually the one that helped Ryan Reynolds get Deadpool made in the first place. He’s been pushing for darker X-Men films since 2004, and it could have been something he worked out with Fox even before he agreed to make Wolverine 3.

Old Man Logan, could be the actual reason the studio is looking to release Wolverine 3 as an R-rated film, not Deadpool‘s recent/sudden success. The lack of producer Tom Rothman’s involvement and move to Sony Pictures might also have something to do with it too.

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