Logan director defends Rian Johnson, calls out fans, studios, and blockbusters


Long ago when I first learned about fan backlash, I laughed it off. Why would a successful director or actor care about what some internet comment said about them? However, after seeing the amount, severity and seemingly endless harassment some people endure, I realized how wrong my initial reaction was.

James Mangold, director of superhero-western hybrid Logan, agrees. In a series of tweets, Mangold lamented how off-putting directing huge blockbuster films can be. While also mentioning the detrimental nature of studio overreach and executive control, he focused in on the negative impact overzealous fans can have on a director’s decision to helm a beloved series.

Likening the Star Wars franchise as “similar to a religious text”, Mangold understands the deep connection so many fans have to these franchises. These are meaningful, formative experiences for people. However, he goes on to point out no amount of fondness for a story excuses harassment. Obviously. Mangold’s reaction was in defense of Rian Johnson and Chris McQuarrie, the former for still being harassed over The Last Jedi half a year after the film was released and the latter for defending the former. Mangold goes even so far as to describe the attacks as having an “evangelical ferocity.” Goodness.

Extreme fans often do get overly attached to the series, worlds, and characters they love and become devoted “followers”. It could be religious-like worship. It could be an especially strong case of nostalgia. It could be a misplaced sense of self-worth for liking the “right” thing. Or it could be because they are 11-year-olds who don’t understand what they are doing yet. The reason doesn’t matter if the outcome is scaring off talented directors.

As Edgar Wright and Joss Whedon can attest, superhero movies can already be a huge headache for the director; the final say does not fall to them, but the studio. And while I’m skeptical rabid fans yelling on the internet can affect a movie with a budget in the hundreds of millions, I can understand directors wanting to avoid a target on their back for the rest of their lives by fans who may actually be impossible to please. Personally, I love the irony just too sweet about how upset and angry these fans can get over something they supposedly love so much. I just wish they would contain their vitriol in the fictional realm.

‘Logan’ Director Jame Mangold Warns Against Extreme Fan Backlash [Slashfilm]