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Rock in his final episode

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The Walking Dead is a massive franchise, which shows no signs of slowing down. The comic book was adapted for the small screen with AMC's original apocalyptic drama, and two more spinoffs have since made their way to the network. Andrew Lincoln's exit from the original show last year came with the knowledge that Rick Grimes would be getting his own solo movie-- one with a full theatrical release. And now Walking Dead content chief Scott Gimple has teased the project's comic book movie inspiration: James Mangold's Logan.

Scott Gimple has had a long tenure working on The Walking Dead and its spinoffs, and that will continue with the highly anticipated Rock Grimes movie. Bringing that project to theaters seems like a bold choice, but he spoke to how it will be approached, and the inspiration taken from Logan. As he put it:

I think of Logan a lot. Logan is a movie that, if you grew up on X-Men comics and the cartoons … you got this extra thing out of it … But if you’ve never seen or read an X-Men thing in your life and you just stumbled onto Logan, I think that movie stands on its own. We need [the Rick Grimes] movie to stand on its own.

This is certainly a smart way to approach Rick’s story in the upcoming Walking Dead movie. The character was the protagonist of the series for nine season, so there is a ton of history there. But not every moviegoer will be up to date on the long-running show or the original comics (which you can catch up on here), which is why a Logan-esque approach is necessary.

Scott Gimple’s comments to THR make a great deal of sense, and shows that the folks behind The Walking Dead are being careful about how to approach the movie’s upcoming theatrical release. Balancing exposition and references to Rick’s past with his upcoming adventure with Anne aka Jade will be key to the film’s success. After all, the studio will want more than just diehard TWD fans heading to theaters if the movie is expected to make any money.

James Mangold's Logan was a refreshing departure for the superhero genre, specifically the long and somewhat convoluted X-Men franchise. Set in a dystopian future, the gritty character drama showed a Wolverine and Professor X as we'd never seen them before: vulnerable and isolated. The Oscar-nominated blockbuster largely ignored the previous movies, allowing for newcomers to be welcomed into the franchise, and feel caught up on the story. Smart money says Rick Grimes' movie does something similar when it arrives in theaters.

Of course, The Walking Dead movie will likely be a bit more connected to the canon of the series. Rick's story is long and full of pain, and that should influence how he approaches the new challenges that'll come his way. Rick is about to wake up in the zombie apocalypse for the second time, after a helicopter took him far away from Alexandria and his family.

Scott Gimple's comparison to Logan make the Rick-centric movie seem like it'll be the opposite of Netflix's Breaking Bad movie El Camino. That streaming drama was deeply connected to Jesse Pinkman's tenure on the show, and brought back countless characters from the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe. It wasn't a movie that was meant for casual fans, but a love letter Breaking Bad that was truly meant for the fans.

Logan in Logan

While Logan featured the return of X-Men stars Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart (which would also be their last time as the characters), the story was wholly original. The two ultra powerful mutants had aged, with their respective abilities wreaking havoc as they attempted to survive in isolation in the desert. The various other characters weren't mentioned, with the X-Men becoming nothing more than a myth-- a comic book entity. It was a stark juxtaposition the franchise's typical ensemble films, and allowed the story to stand on its own. Although just how The Walking Dead movie will do this remains a mystery.

Then again, the upcoming Rick Grimes movie isn't expected to start a whole new timeline. The Walking Dead and its spinoffs all currently occupy the same space, albeit in different locations and periods in time. What's more, the project will directly follow-up on Rick's departure during Season 9, which was intimately connected with the interpersonal relationships of the series. He seemingly perished when he destroyed the bridge that connected the various communities, leaving behind his partner Michonne, daughter Judith, and unborn son RJ.

Luckily he didn't die, with Anne aka Jadis finding the protagonist washed up ashore. Her mysterious helicopter finally arrived, and the former Scavenger negotiated Rick's inclusion in the ride. The pair departed to places unknown, and could end up seemingly anywhere in the upcoming movie. Smart money says Rick won't be happy about his new fate, as he left behind so many loved ones and a series of communities that needed his guidance and protection.

I'm eager to see exactly how Rick's story is approached in the upcoming movie, and how the past and present are balanced. One possible way to cue in new audience members is through flashbacks, with other cast member able to reprise their roles and act opposite Andrew Lincoln. Chandler Riggs and Norman Reedus have both expressed their interest in coming back for the big screen, so the ball in the studio's court.

Regardless, the inspiration being drawn from Logan is a hopeful message to fans, who are hoping the movie lives up the hype when it finally hits theaters. Logan was universally praised, earning great reviews, a strong box office performance, and even an Oscar nomination. It looks like Scott Gimple and company are aiming high when it comes to Rick Grimes' untitled movie. And if that release is a success, smart money says more movies will be produced for either AMC theaters.

It's currently unclear when the Rick Grimes movie will hit theaters now, although the new season of The Walking Dead is airing Sundays on AMC. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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