Hugh Jackman has taken his final (for now) bow as James “Logan” Howlett aka The Wolverine in the highly anticipated Logan. Logan is unlike any other comic book movie released so far, in fact, I’m not even sure if the label “comic book movie” is appropriate for this film. Technically, yes, this is a movie about comic book characters, but this is nowhere near a typical superhero movie.
Logan is many things, it’s a story of fathers and sons, of getting older, of families, both biological and not. The movie has it’s feet firmly planted more in the western genre than the superhero genre. Earlier in the day, I had been rewatching Captain America: Civil War and Logan was such a massive tonal shift that I think I need to rewatch Logan to truly appreciate it. Nowhere in Logan will you see anything approaching the airport fight, it’s just not that kind of movie.
Logan is a part of the greater X-men franchise and references the other X-men and Wolverine movies, but it could just as easily be a stand alone film. There are enough easter eggs to make a comic book geek like me happy, but it’s still just as enjoyable if you are only partially aware of the X-men continuity. As long as you have an awareness of who Charles Xavier and Wolverine are, and a rough idea of their powers you can follow this movie.
Comic fans should be aware that this movie was often mentioned as an adaptation of the Old Man Logan story. It is not. It is a story about Logan as an old man but has nothing to do with the Old Man Logan comic storyline. Which is a good thing, I’m glad they didn’t try to shoe-horn anything from that book into this story.
From the first scene, we are told what kind of movie this is. Gone are the flashy, CGI credits. Instead, we have a simple black screen with the basic title cards. We then open on an older, grizzled Logan passed out, presumably drunk, in the backseat of a car. He stumbles, slurs his words, can’t pop his claws properly. This is not the action hero of the previous X-men films. This is an old man nearing the end of his days. It’s these moments and more that give the film a western feel. It’s very easy to compare this to movies like Unforgiven.
We are slowly reintroduced to Charles Xavier, with Patrick Stewart turning in his finest performance as the Professor. He is old and senile, losing control of his powers and his mind. We are told in passing of tragedies that have happened but don’t get much more information. It’s clear that the past 20 years have not been kind to the X-men.
Everything changes when a young girl enters the picture. The girl turns out to be Laura, X-23 from the comics. She is Logan’s “daughter” grown from a combination of his DNA and a surrogate mother. She is everything he is but in the body of a 12-year-old girl. We see some pretty horrific scenes of kids being experimented on to create mutant soldiers. It’s very similar to what was in Deadpool and it’s a nice touch of continuity to connect everything. Laura changes everything in Logan’s life. She doesn’t quite steal the scenes, but she definitely pulls your focus in many scenes. I can easily see the young actress, Dafne Keen, being compared to a young Natalie Portman. Seeing Logan and Laura together definitely carries an echo of The Professional. It’s through her that we see he redeem himself as the hero he used to be.
X-23 has become one of my favorite characters recently, and Wolverine has always been my favorite Marvel character. So, I was very excited to see them both on screen, and both are so true to their characters. The first time she popped her foot claw I was giddy with excitement. I do hope that we see more of her in future films.
In the end, Logan spins not only the established comic book movie format but also gives a classic tale of a gunslinger at the end of his days. With many of the Marvel movies being considered very safe and formulaic, Logan feels like a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t subvert or mock the tropes like Deadpool, instead it ignores most of them and gives us a strong emotional film about a man struggling with losing one family while trying to secure a future for another.