Superhero Suffering: Logan

Logan is the second R-rated comic book film from Fox, studio of the X-Men, following up on the success of Deadpool last year. Logan is also said to be Hugh Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine after doing eight films as the character, to which Robert Downey Jr flexes his muscles and says, You gotta be kidding! Whimp. I’m just getting started.

Full disclaimer, I have not seen any of the other X-men movies (I know, crazy!). However, I knew enough solid facts about Wolverine going into Logan to not be lost. I would suggest anyone who wants to see the film and hasn’t seen the others, do at least a quick scroll through Wikipedia before diving in.

Logan starts in the year 2029. The mutants are almost extinct. Logan is working as a chauffeur and is caring for an elderly Charles Xavier, who is suffering from a brain disease. After a deal goes wrong, he learns about an underground human experimentation group called Transigen that has created a group of child mutants, including a young girl named Laura with the same powers as him. He, Laura, and Charles Xavier go on the run to take Laura to a place called “Eden,” where she swears she and the other mutant children will be safe. Logan is reluctant, but right now he’s only living for Charles, who insists Laura and the other mutants are the future.

This was my first rated R film in theatres, and I saw it with my dad. Near the very end, as a character’s chest gets driven into a wooden spike for the second time, my dad turned to me and asked,

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I said, as I adjusted my hands over my eyes. “I can handle it.”

“I don’t know if I can.”

So it’s not a kid’s movie. If you’re the parent who took their kid to see Sausage Party because it was animated and Deadpool because it had a guy in a red costume, please take my warning and at least look at why something is rated as it is. Unless you’re training your child to be a doctor and want to expose them early to brain matter and gaping wounds, in which case I have some questions, please wait, no matter how great this film is.

And why is Logan great? Because it introduces new elements to the superhero genre that haven’t been done before.

Logan has some uncanny similarities to last month’s release, The Lego Batman Movie. While I won’t be reviewing it because its window has passed, I really enjoyed it. Both films are about tough, individualistic, rugged macho men learning to care about other people and let them in. They both find themselves in a parental role, and become great mentors and teachers in their own rights. While one has a climax that ends with a problem being solved by the power of abs and friendships, and the other is a more depressing look at age, alcoholism, immigration, and inner demons, both represent a new turn in franchise filmmaking.

In both Logan and 2015’s Mad Mad: Fury Road, the hero who has been the center of a film series for years gives their mantle to someone who represents the future. In Fury Road, it’s Furiosa and the Wives. In Logan, it’s Laura and the other mutants. This idea of passing the mantle to the future generation, which in both of these films are represented by female/minority/immigrants, is a striking commentary. Logan and Fury Road have also been critical hits, which might mean that more highbrow blockbuster films will follow the same path.

Logan is able to balance action and character, all within its Western feel. The film revels in being able to use Wolverine’s claws to their full effect. It doesn’t just stop with slashes, though. It innovatively incorporates the settings and locations to make unique action sequences.

But it is the quiet moments in the film that pull it into great territory. Watching Logan have to carry Charles Xavier to bed, hearing Charles rage at him in his senile moments about how much of a disappointment he is, bonded me to the characters, even though this is the only film I’ve seen them in. This film is a gift to Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, giving them an opportunity to strip down their characters, build them up, and then set them in stone.

Now, most of us know that Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman can act. It’s Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23 that stuns and amazes. She not only performs her action sequences to a professional degree, but she is able to build up her own character’s legacy in a short amount of time. I can’t wait to see more from her.

Ultimately, what Logan does that is revolutionary is this: It has consequences, stakes, and follows through with them. That is something no major franchise is doing right now. Maybe it’s because of Logan’s finality, or the creative forces of director James Mangold and Hugh Jackman, but Logan’s greatest accomplishment is that it is okay with ending.

Except I enjoyed the film so much, I didn’t want it to.

-Madeleine D

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