Have you ever been in a fight? A real dragged out brawl? There’s a point where you just run out of energy and every punch you land is running on empty. Its here where you start thinking about why you’re fighting or how it got to this point.
Logan is the movie version of that. A man running on empty, looking for a way to finish the fight.
It’s a very good movie. Hugh Jackman explores what is essentially the only storytelling territory left for this character. The action is there, blood and all, but none of it is triumphant for Wolverine. His fights hurt to watch, and seriously hurt him, to the point where I just wanted him to get out of there.
The action scenes that’ll stick with you aren’t his, they’re hers. Dafne Keen as Laura aka X-23 kicks so much ass in this movie that I almost wish it weren’t R-rated for the sake of little girls experiencing how cool she is. But no, the rating is worth it to see her dispatch enemies with both the claws in her knuckles and feet with all the energy they merit. She’s the most high-key element to a very low-key movie.
Almost a year ago I argued that Deadpool was special because of how weird and comic book-y it could be. This movie proves the opposite may actually be true, especially after Apocalypse went to that place and it didn’t go well. Perhaps the future of the X-Men franchise lays in it as a series of slightly lower budget character pieces instead of overblown blockbusters.Deadpool is a story of love over looks, kind of. Logan is the tale of a man at his end, and an examination of what kind of man he is after his very long life.
Worth mentioning, never once in this film does Logan call himself Wolverine, nor is Laura called X-23. In fact, in this movie Wolverine has reclaimed the name he was born with, James Howlett. Here’s a hot take, the film can be read with Logan as his superhero alias and not Wolverine.
X-Men needs to set themselves apart from the pack in some way, because right now they stand as the awkward alternative MCU that’s been technically running longer under one continuity. But that timeline is a mess and the number of great movies they’ve made; X2, X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past, they do not outweigh the number of bad one; X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Apocalypse. To be honest, X-Men Apocalypse burned me so bad I told myself I was out for all X-Men movies in the future. I’ll admit, yes I still came for Logan and I will most likely be there for Deadpool 2, but the mainline X-Men fare is no longer for me. That being said, with more focused material like Deadpool, Logan, and from what I hear Legion is also very good, suddenly the X-Men universe breathes to life.
The MCU is the superstar franchise with great characters that’s a lot of fun. The DC Extended Universe, as it bills itself, is the one where they’re clearly spending a lot more money and want to give more power to the directors to let their voice shine with these characters. But X-Men finds itself somewhere between, which is why people forget why characters like Wolverine can’t be in the Avengers. They don’t even have the monopoly on characters that have powers but are feared by those they protect ever since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought Inhumans onto the scene. They’re basically mutants!
There was a lesson to be learned in Deadpool’s success and it turned out Fox found it and followed it. Use the character to find the tone (be silly with Deadpool, be violent with Wolverine) then tell a story that speaks to them. These quieter X-Men movies are blowing the pants off their more bombastic siblings and I would be interested in more like them. Word on the street is they want to do another X-Men movie where Jean Grey goes Dark Phoenix. First of all, please don’t, and second of all, maybe there’s a version of that story that fits into this framework?
I don’t know, I’m not a producer. Go see Logan.
PS, Logan wouldn’t work so well if we hadn’t known Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine for almost two decades. Just something to consider.