Review: How Logan Single-Handedly Saved Superhero Movies

[Spoiler-infested waters. Swim at your own risk.]

I think I’m finally done crying over Logan. There’s a part of me that truly believes I can write this review, think about these scenes, and somehow…nope. Nope. Negative. There they are. Whatever, I’ll sob through this, it’s fine.

So far, the best decision I’ve made this year was stashing my purse with tissues before going to see Logan. But regardless of all my crying comments, the truth is the last installment of the Wolverine series is much, much more than a tear-jerker.

Let’s start with some disclaimers

I’m the kind of person who gets excited about superhero movies while fully expecting them to suck. I dutifully buy my ticket to see Deadpool, love Ryan Reynold’s performance, and embrace being immediately turned off by the formulaic execution of the film as a whole.

Maybe the superhero prototype worked for the first run of Superman. But with DC and Marvel competing for silver-screen time, we’ve become more and more saturated as an audience. Is the point of origin movies even to showcase the uniqueness of each superhero anymore? Or are we just reusing the current preferred traits and slapping them onto whichever movie is coming out next?

And perhaps that’s the thing with Wolverine. It’s so hard to make him someone else. I’ve heard that people think he has no personality. Yet, I’d say he simply doesn’t adapt to whatever personality you as a viewer currently want him to have. Wolverine is a sad jackass through and through, when you want him to be and when you don’t.

How ditching the formula enhanced Logan

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© 20th Century Fox

With this film, one could say the superhero genre finally forgoes the training wheels. Logan doesn’t depend or hide behind a formula. Instead, an aged and bruised Wolverine is forced to go on road trip from the border of Mexico to North Dakota. There’s no big villain, just two dying old dudes and a child refugee.

Instead of preparing for an impending battle, Logan is ardently trying to avoid one. Government officials are in the lookout for Charles, who Logan is hiding past the Mexican border. A mentally deteriorated Professor X is looked after by Caliban, a mutation-sniffing mutant, and kept inside a fallen water tank. To pay for Charles’ medication, Logan works as a limo driver in Texas.

Logan himself is aging quickly, losing eye-sight, and taking longer and longer to regenerate when wounded. Even though he wants to fool himself into thinking his plan will work, the moment is forced to its crisis when Laura (X-23) shows up at their doorstep. Gabriela, her caretaker, had been trying to get through to Logan, originally offering him 30 grand to take the girl to North Dakota.

Gabriela dies at the hands of Donald Pierce, a cyborg working for the government, leaving X-23 with nobody but a sick Charles and a reluctant Logan. However, when Pierce and his men find Logan’s hideout, he realizes Laura possesses his same mutation. Caliban is kidnapped by Pierce and his men during the shootout, and the remaining trio is thrust upon an impromptu field trip to North Dakota where “Eden” awaits.

Laura’s story is intriguing

logan review marvel fox x-23

© 20th Century Fox

So what is “Eden”? Eden is the place where other mutants like Laura are waiting before crossing over to Canada. The problem is, Gabriela has been getting her information from Wolverine comic books. Charles believes that this is still the place where the rest of the mutants will meet up, while Logan believes there are no more mutants and Charles and Laura are fooling themselves.

However, later that night Charles and Logan watch a video Gabriela recorded on Laura’s phone in case of death. In it, she shows footage of a hospital in Mexico in which embryos were mixed with genetic “seeds” from several known mutants, Wolverine’s included. These kids were supposed to serve as an army, but their inherent humanity made them unmanageable when push came to shove. By the tail-end of training and experimentation, the scientists announced they had found a better alternative and would now dispose of the children.

Gabriela and the rest of the nurses released the children, but she and Laura got separated from the rest of the group. For a long time Gabriela had been searching for Laura’s unknowing father, Logan. Laura does not only possess the same mutation as her father, but also the same acidic personality. The result is a fabulous dynamic and quite a lot of heartache.

The grandpa > dad > daughter dynamic

logan review marvel fox x-23

© 20th Century Fox

It’s not new that Charles Xavier serves as a father figure for an unruly Wolverine. However, now that Charles has aged and needs Logan’s constant help, the dynamic becomes even more emotionally charged. Logan now has to play the role of the parent as Charles’ mental state continues to deteriorate. This aspect in and of itself is already something new for Logan, forcing him to remain grounded in one place and take responsibility for his “family.”

Of course, he’s still unwilling to accept that he has anything close to family, even after his own flesh and blood shows up. That being said, there’s a special father-daughter bond that neither side can help succumbing to, no matter how hard they try. By the end of the movie, Logan’s main priority is getting his daughter to safety, sacrificing his own life to ensure it.

What really tests this bond is when X-24 shows up, a Wolverine clone. It is at his hands that Charles dies and Laura is almost abducted. In this way, Logan is forced to see exactly what he always feared he’d become. At first, this haunts him. Yet, I believe by the end of it he realizes he never truly became the monster he saw in X-24, and in some way it frees him. Especially when he gets to fight him to defend his daughter and her friends.

Thoughts on Laura’s future

logan review marvel fox x-23

© 20th Century Fox

I think the actress Dafne Keen is amazing, and I love that she can really speak Spanish (a big chunk of the movie involved bilingual interactions). Moving forward, I would definitely be interested in following her story and that of the new mutants. I think they should hurry up and do it before Hugh Jackman is absolutely not down for camo-ing. In my head, I envision X-23 having to confront X-24 (or a bettered model) that is still identical to her late father. How amazingly sad would that be? Anyways…a girl can dream.

 

I’m glad this movie wasn’t afraid to crack Logan open and that it accepted that villains don’t really matter. A lot of movies in this genre suffer from weak villains because they’re set up to be such a big thing from the start. Very few antagonists can truly deliver  in the end. But being a freak of nature is much more complex than fighting bad guys. I’m more interested in why or why not a person with super powers would choose to become a “superhero.” Or what happens when their powers are misused or their actions misguided. That’s what I loved about Smallville in its days. It wasn’t about Clark Kent being Superman, it was about Clark Kent trying not to be Superman.

In this case, this movie was about whether or not Wolverine should keep striving for life now that he had found “a reason to live,” and ultimately deciding that he had served his time. It’s heartbreaking to see Wolverine slowly let himself go, but at the same time allowing himself to feel and be tired is exactly what made him painstakingly human.

Will Laura find the strength to keep going? Will she want to avenge her father? Or, perhaps, did Laura learn the lesson it took Wolverine decades to figure out?

Should you watch it? Yes, twice.

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