This years film, Logan, saw Hugh Jackman put on the claws ‘one last time’ in his swan song to the role now synonymous with his name. Directed by James Mangold, Logan acts as the final chapter in the characters 17-year cinematic legacy.
X-men is arguably the franchise which inaugurated the current climate of superhero saturation in modern cinema, that being said Logan can be viewed as a reflection on the genre. When viewed in the context of a superhero film, Logan is an entirely different beast. Instead of focusing on the character in his prime, the film asks the question: What happens to a hero when his best days are behind him?
Since the release of the original X-men film in 2000, Jackman has adopted the mantle of the Wolverine on 10 separate occasions spanning the franchise’s 17-year history. Jackman’s Wolverine has been a central figure in many of these films, having two dedicated entirely to him.
Though well known, not all of Jackman’s Wolverine films have been well received, not naming names…X-men Origins: Wolverine.
Logan is the first X-men film to receive a 15 rating. A choice made following the huge success of 2016’s Deadpool, the first R rated film in the superhero genre. Logan opted to follow suit, allowing the true savagery of the character to be represented on screen for the first time.
Thematically this film stands apart from all its predecessors, shying away from Avengers-esque conflicts upon which hinges the fate of the world, opting instead for a far more intimate tale.
Canonically Logan is set at the far end of the X-men cinematic timeline, in the year 2029. By Logan is nearing the end of his long life, his ability to heal diminished, and prolonged exposure to the adamantium that once made him near invincible, slowly killing him. Defeated both physically and emotionally, the Logan we meet here is a shadow of his former self.
Starring alongside Jackman series veteran Patrick Stewart reprises his iconic role as Professor Xavier. However, this incarnation of the character is far removed from the stoic leader the audience have come to know.
The characters roles now reversed, when Logan initially encountered the professor he was lost and in need of guidance, now the professor relies heavily on Logan just to survive.
Debilitated by dementia, his once incisive and powerful mind now out of his control. His psychic abilities now unintentionally harming those around him. To protect the innocent from harm we find the two men on the run, hiding in the desert. Logan reduced to working as a limo driver trying to raise enough money to buy a boat, so the two can live out the remainder of their days in peace without endangering the innocent.
The characters are stagnating in this existence until the arrival of X-23 a young mutant girl raised in captivity, fleeing the nefarious corporation that engineered her played by Dafne Keen. Giving Logan a renewed sense of purpose, he reluctantly endeavours to escort her across the border into Canada where she’ll be safe.
Though perhaps unintentional, this arc echoes the current political climate in America. In the days following the result of the 2016 presidential elections a great many people were left feeling unsafe in their own country, wanting to flee.
Logan is the first X-men film to receive a 15 rating. A choice made following the huge success of Deadpool, the first R rated film in the superhero genre. Logan opted to follow suit, allowing the true savagery of the character to be represented on screen for the first time.
A great many things are left vague in Logan; the audience is given small clues and left to make the connections themselves. The fate of the other X-men for example, mainstays of the franchise are suspiciously absent, with only hints as to the nature of their demise peppered throughout the film. Though never said explicitly, it is heavily implied that in a rather grim twist of fate the professor had inadvertently killed them.
A prevailing character arc present in Wolverine across the X-men films deals with his two natures, the man vs the beast, Logan vs the Wolverine. “Don’t be what they made you” Logan’s advice to X-23, something that he has struggled with his entire life. This film takes the next step, drawing on the fantastical nature of science fiction to facilitate a manifestation of this Jekyll and Hyde conflict. Allowing Logan to fight against a clone of his younger self, though this doesn’t quite end well for Logan, the brutality of the fight is an incredible spectacle, taking full advantage of the film’s R rating.
Sacrificing his life in the final act, the film ends on a sombre tone, Logan was never able to find the peace he sought in life.
A staple of modern comic book movies is the after credit scene. Savvy audiences know not to leave just as the credits begin to roll, if you have the patience you are rewarded with a tiny teaser of things to come, the next step the franchise is going to take. This is not the case in Logan, which while I regret waiting the extra 10 minutes for, is a decision I’m completely in favour of. Logan was a hymn to a character that has been with audiences for 17 years. I would argue that no other actor in the superhero genre has become as intrinsically linked with their character as Hugh Jackman has with Wolverine. So it would only detract from the impact of the ending to unnecessarily tack on an after credit scene.
It goes without saying that Logan is not a suitable entry point into the franchise, not to say that you absolutely need to have seen the previous films to enjoy the film, more that the impact of the characters demise will be lost on newcomers. Jackman made clear long before the release of the film that this would be his final time playing the character. This puts a lot of pressure on the film to deliver, if it goes badly then that’s the final impression left in the mind’s of the audience. Happily this is not the case in Logan, the film acts as the perfect farewell for the character.