Logan director warns that toxic fans will push top talent away from big movie franchises

James Mangold says that the recent backlash to films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi will discourage “bolder minds” from ever getting involved with large-scale sci-fi and superhero films

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine/Logan in Logan (20th Century Fox, HF)

It’s fair to say that in recent years some fans of major movie franchises haven’t been showing their best side, whether they’re hounding Star Wars stars off social media, demanding they get the chance to remake The Last Jedi or just insisting that anyone who dislikes their favourite heroes is getting bribed by a rival company.

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Now the director of one such genre film – James Mangold, who made the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated Wolverine sequel Logan – has warned that the fans’ reactions could have dire consequence for the future of sci-fi, superhero and fantasy movies, discouraging “bolder minds” from ever getting involved in order to avoid the near-inevitable backlash.

In a series of tweets, Mangold compared the current state of fandom to religious fervour, where the very slightest misstep from a pre-ordained “doctrine” could have your branded a heretic or blasphemer.

“At the point when work writing and directing big franchises has become the emotionally loaded equivalent of writing a new chapter of The Bible (with the probable danger of being stoned and called a blasphemer), then a lot of bolder minds are gonna leave these films to hacks and corp boards,” he wrote, adding that bolder directors are actually fighting hard behind the scenes to give fans genuinely exciting films.

“The fervour of some attacks has an evangelical ferocity. Now, I get it cause for many folk, including me, the Star Wars saga holds tremendous spiritual power, similar to a religious text. But we must remember to try to handle our disappointments the way Yoda might, as opposed to Darth,” he concluded.

Considering Mangold’s own rumoured involvement with a Star Wars movie (a Boba Fett spin-off), it’s fair to say that he might be feeling the results of the current climate quite strongly.

However, it’s also worth noting, as some others already have, that it tends to be the more marginalised voices of women and people of colour who receive the worst abuse from die-hard “fans”, and who subsequently might not see the benefit of getting involved with these big franchises in the first place.

And frankly, aside from the moral dimension this is also bad news for popular culture – because without new and exciting voices with different perspectives, how are we going to get anything made that has even a spark of originality?

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Fingers crossed this bad chapter in fan culture can pass sooner rather than later.