When a third "solo" outing was announced for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, nobody was expecting the direction in which director James Mangold would take it. Prior superhero movies in Marvel's general arena had often centered around comedy and spectacle, using one-liners and CGI effects in equal measure to get the audience in the theater. The few exceptions had been "Daredevil," "Punisher," and the latest reboot of "Fantastic 4." We all know how those turned out.
The first successful attempts at a serious superhero film were often in the hands of Warner Bros.
and DC Comics. Tim Burton's "Batman" and Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy on the same character had been the benchmarks for how to take a superhero film and make it serious and realistic.
Films based on Marvel Comics almost always use humor to sell them
Beginning with 2008's "Iron Man," Marvel and Disney successfully started a trend which continues to this day. It was a combination of believable CGI effects and Robert Downey Jr.'s sarcastic wit, which drew a massive audience. Even then it hadn't quite been cemented as "The Incredible Hulk" was actually made by Universal Studios. The only thing that officially made that film canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was the inclusion of General Ross (William Hurt) in "Captain America: Civil War."
Hulk still hasn't been given his own movie due to the rights involved, as well as the complications of making it successful as a monster movie crossed with a superhero movie. The upcoming "Thor: Ragnarok" appears to be the closest thing to a solo Hulk movie allowed, as the "big green rage monster" pairs off against Thor (toting his iconic helmet for the first time ever) in a gladiatorial smack-up..
Even 20th Century Fox had been using humor and CGI spectacle since the beginning, but with the "#Logan" movie, it appears they took a very risky direction. Not only did they use the R-rated idea which helped make "#Deadpool" so good, but they took a step further. Adding what felt like a kind of "Mad Max" mood, they took most of the fantasy out of the film and gave Wolverine a very "tired of it all" attitude set in the West.
'Logan' went where most superhero movies don't
As with "Deadpool," Wolverine's final outing could spawn a series of films taking a far more "realistic" approach with their visuals. While it seems unlikely, Warner Bros.' "Batman V Superman: The Dawn of Justice" did attempt to fix their sales numbers with an R-rated director's cut.
A superhero movie often doesn't work well with realistic visuals, though. Many characters in those universes would be almost pointless, though we can probably expect them to try.
20th Century Fox did it well with "Logan." #Logan Movie