Logan is a superhero drama film released in North America on March 3rd, 2017. It was directed by James Mangold (@mang0ld) and stars Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman), Dafne Keen (@DafneKeen) and Patrick Stewart (@SirPatStew).
I grew up on the X-Men movies. My mom would rent each one as it came out and we’d watch it and nerd out over all the cool characters. Eventually, I was old enough to see them in theatres. They became events, my parents and I would see them on release and geek out afterwards the whole way home. I eagerly awaited each one, albeit a little less each time. And after 2016’s disappointing X-Men Apocalypse, I wondered if my love of this series was fading. These were the characters of my childhood- Professor X, Magneto, Storm and of course: Wolverine. These characters were so cool to my 10-year-old brain, so awesome and powerful. But as I grew up, the series didn’t really grow up with me. It floated in the mediocre middle ground of superhero storytelling that relied on flashy characters and drawn out action scenes to carry them rather than meaningful plots and dialogue. So I went into Logan with tempered expectations, but after the first scene these expectations were as shattered as the bones of several unfortunate thugs…
A Tormented Soul
As a kid, I always wanted to fly through the air like Storm and move cars with my mind like Jean Grey. But Wolverine was never really someone I wanted to be. Even at a young age I could tell that Logan’s life and experiences were unbearable. It was obvious that he was troubled, plagued by his past and pained by his present. And over the past 17 years of Hugh Jackman’s iconic Wolverine, it became abundantly clear to me that Wolverine is not someone I want to be. Even as the credits rolled at the end of Logan, I knew that this was still no superhero. This was a broken man, and Logan was about his redemption, his passing of the torch.
From the opening scene, it’s obvious that this Wolverine is much, much older. Struggling to walk, grizzly and grey-haired, it’s clear a lot of time has passed since we last saw Wolverine in action. The missing information in this timeline is never talked about aside from off hand comments. We never understand how Wolverine and Professor X came to be living in the Mexican desert, separated from the world that we know so well. There’s a lot of backstories that’s never discussed, a lot of gaps in the viewer’s knowledge that are never filled in. While I didn’t really mind not knowing, the people I was watching with were a little bothered by the jump in time. The probing questions left them wanting to know more and distracted them from the plot.
Missing pieces aside, the story that is present is strong, but a little familiar. The main crux of the film is how similar it is to other stories we’ve seen so often. The basic premise of grizzled, old, white, bearded man travelling across America with this young girl as they make their way through countless dangers is instantly recognisable to fans of The Last of Us, Maggie, The Road, BioShock Infinite and so on. It’s an almost tired formula at this point, a premise that is less meaningful every time I see it although the presence of a female character is still important. But where Logan stands apart in some regards is that the young girl accompanying Logan, Laura, doesn’t actually need protecting. In fact, she’s a more capable, more vicious fighter than the Wolverine himself. From the first fight scene, this girl is entirely capable and actually saves Logan more than Logan saves her.
All Hail Laura
Laura is the best thing to happen to X-Men movies since they went back in time. She’s an exemplary female protagonist done right and Dafne Keen absolutely nails the role. From mysterious wunderkind at the start of the film to fleshed out star by the end, Laura develops in the most effective way possible over Logan‘s two-hour running time. She has Logan’s attitude and “FU” outlook on life but as a little girl when she lashes out it would be funny if it wasn’t so vicious and terrifying.
Her relationship with Logan evolves and develops in a way no other character has meshed with the Wolverine in the past. Their dynamic goes from frustrating to funny to heartfelt all in well-written scenes and brilliant action shots. Their rapport by the end of the film had me grinning when they both unleashed their claws together and tore through thugs like they were butter, leaping over each other working as a team to dismember and disembowel. They never address teaming up, it just happens naturally as they become closer and get more comfortable with each other, something I don’t think Logan’s ever done in his life.
One Last Time…
Hugh Jackman is synonymous with the Wolverine at this point. His patented sideburns and grizzly chest are ingrained in the brains of every movie goer who’s seen an X-Men movie. But as mentioned before, this time is different. This is Jackman’s last movie as the iconic mutant and knowing that many fans were going in expecting a trip down memory lane, but this time around Jackman brings an evolution of the Wolverine, one with never before seen depth.
This Wolverine is a long awaited old Logan, a side of the character fans have been begging to see for years. Based on Steve McNiven’s Old Man Logan comics, in this future the human geneticists have won and mutants have been widely eradicated from the planet. It’s in this world of immeasurable loss we find Logan, a man already plagued by loss in his hundred year life. There’s nothing left for Logan to fight for, nothing left to brood for. It’s in this world the Wolverine decides to help someone other than himself, one last time…
Just See It, Bub
Logan is the best X-Men movie ever, if not one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. It pairs the action that defines the genre with a meaningful story and deep characters that they traditionally lack. Dafne Keen shines in her first feature-length film and Hugh Jackman unleashes the claws for the last time. Whether you’ve never seen an X-Men movie or seen them all, you need to see this one.