I love, love, love superhero movies. My favourites are probably the Captain America movies or (select) Spider-Man movies, but for the most part I enjoy them all. But my favourite kind of superhero movie is not a just superhero movie: it’s the kind that transcends genre with its style and story, a fully rounded movie in its own right that just happens to have superheroes in it. Logan is exactly this type of movie, and it’s the movie that Wolverine has been waiting for.
Logan takes place in a near future where the X-Men have all but disappeared, leaving an older Logan (Hugh Jackman, but you knew that) as lone wolf once again, taking care of a vastly degenerating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). When a mysterious young girl named Laura, with strange ties to Logan’s past, shows up at their hide-out in Mexico, she, Logan and Charles must trek across the country on a bloody, dangerous road trip to the Canadian border in North Dakota.
Logan is everything the other Wolverine movies should have been: dark, gritty, personal, and a bloody, gratuitously violent film full of profanity that does the character of Logan justice and allows him to reach his full potential. The other X-films (though I love them) have never given the Wolverine bloody enough fight scenes that can truly show off how brutal the character is in the comics. And in giving us a more comic-true Wolverine, we were given clawed skulls, slashed open stomachs, ripped throats and a very scarred Hugh Jackman, made even more gritty by the fact that Logan is losing his healing factor, and may not make it out this time.
This battle-scarred, aging Logan is what makes the film as emotionally challenging and sombre as it is. Logan is part Western, part superhero movie, creating an intimate, deeply personal film that sees a real culmination of both Logan, and Charles, as characters. Logan is coming to terms with his immortality and loneliness after the destruction of the X-Men, and when he meets young Laura, whose abilities and personality are so like his, he begins to question his past and wonder if there is any redemption for such a young girl. Charles, meanwhile, is the world’s most powerful brain dealing with a degenerative brain disease, and he is grappling with his own power and trying to survive in a world where there is no symbol of hope like the X-Men were for so many years. Watching these characters at their full potential, dealing with personal issues in a self-contained movie where the world wasn’t at stake for once, allowed them to grow and achieve a greater complexity, which Logan has so desperately longed for.
This was especially aided by the smaller scale story: Laura’s escape from her Mexican facility and going on the run from the bad guys contributed to the film’s Western feel, as the film didn’t rest on its big struggle, but placed the emphasis on the characters interactions and their development as a makeshift family. So rather than being a huge battle of good vs. evil that we’ve seen a thousand times, Logan is a story about love, redemption and mortality, resulting in some heartbreaking moments and powerful shots that allow the audience to connect to Logan’s story like never before.
And this is Hugh Jackman like never before, in a stunning turn as the grizzly old Logan that makes you wonder where the little guy from the original X-Men has gone. His love for Charles, Laura and all those he’s lost is seen in his brilliant executed pain, and this film is the perfect, possibly award-winning, send-off for a man who owes everything to this character. Dafne Keen may be this year’s Millie Bobby Brown, since Laura is kickass, but a layered, deep character, whose minimal dialogue and bloodthirsty nature really allow this talented young actress to challenge the audience to read between the lines a little bit. But Patrick Stewart as Charles was so sad, so nuanced, so different from the charming Professor X that we all know and love, and he gave us so many layers of guilt and misery that he stole the show completely for me.
Logan being a glorious, throat-ripping affair full of swearing and severed limbs wasn’t what made it a fantastic movie: not every superhero movie has to be MA or R to be good. Rather, it was the level of free reign given to the creative team that allowed Logan to thrive off of what makes him such a brilliant character; a deeper understanding of Logan allowed the story to stay faithful and organically realise what it needed. And so we get the best X-Men film to date: a perfect cast, a small-scale story, the best fight scenes in the series by far and a wonderful send off to the man who started it all.
It’s a smaller cast, but it’s still great: here’s my top five favourite films starring the cast of Logan:
- Les Miserables – Hugh Jackman
- Chicken Little – Patrick Stewart
- Penelope – Richard E. Grant
- X-Men: Days of Future Past – Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart
- X-Men: First Class – Hugh Jackman
(I know those last two were kind of cheats, but I clearly need to see more Patrick Stewart movies!)
Photos taken from IMDb.com: