Photo courtesy of IMDB.com
eThink back to the summer of 2000. We had just recovered from the Y2K mass hysteria, Bush had just edged Gore, and an unheard of quarterback named Tom Brady was about to be drafted to the New England Patriots in a couple months. The latest superhero movie was Batman and Robin, and that was a colossal failure. When the movie X-Men was released, audiences weren’t sure what to expect.
Lo and behold, the movie featured a youthful energy that reinvigorated franchise filmmaking and became the touchstone for the comic-book-adaptation storm that shortly ensued thereafter. But we were also introduced to a not-so-furry anti-hero — Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, arguably the most popular of Marvel’s X-Men up to that point. Little did we know that Jackman would go on to play the character in every succeeding X-Men film; and we especially did not know that this run would end 17 marvelous years later.
Logan is Jackman’s last outing as the Wolverine, and boy is it the send out he deserves. When we first met Wolverine in 2000, he was a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, cage-fighting loner with untapped potential. In Logan, we nearly come full circle, as Logan is a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, limo-driving, bitter hag whose potential has been all but tapped out. Those who are fans of comic books should recognize what X-Men story arc we are dealing with here just based on Logan’s looks in the trailer alone. For the ill-informed, Logan’s story comes predominantly from the Old Man Logan series.
Logan a.k.a. Wolverine has found himself in Texas, near the Mexican border, driving a limo for a living. In his downtime, he drinks and tries to help the ailing Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). He has remained in secret for quite a while, that is, until a concerned caretaker for a child finds him and begs for his help in protecting her little girl. This little girl, though, just happens to have the same powers as Wolverine. Old, grizzled Logan soon finds himself trying to protect the girl from the very people she escaped from. On top of that, he is slowly dying.
The overall story is not far off from conventional Western films, and there are many scenes that have an air of Leone about them (there are even a couple of scenes from the film Shane shown on a hotel TV).
The film is rather unconventional for the type of superhero film we have come to expect, but perhaps this is because we have yet to see the end-of-the-line-for-this-famous-character storyline yet — or at least not a whole film dedicated to that. It makes you think as to which Marvel character is next to receive this type of treatment (I, for one, would love to see Chris Evans try to play Captain America this way. What a challenge that would present to him). We have seen the origin story done to death in these superhero movie renaissance, so when is the whole thing going to come crashing down?
Also, the references to past films are rather subtle, which you don’t realize actually plays like a luxury when you aren’t getting beaten over the head with Easter eggs. In fact, it’s refreshing to just have focus on the Logan and Xavier characters. Watching Logan, I recalled back to that first X-Men when Logan didn’t want to be bothered with other people until he met Charles Xavier. There is a father-son dynamic here that has been hinted at in the finer X-Men films such as Days of Futures Past, but has never really been explored until Logan.
The past movies that have tried to focus on Wolverine really seemed hell-bent on presenting things Logan ends up avoiding: fast-paced action, cool characters, hi-tech-stuff. But Logan allows Jackman to really explore the character, something I never thought I’d say about an X-Men character, and we get to fall in love with Wolverine just like we did 17 years ago.
My thoughts drift back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine and how that was such a bust of a film, to put it lightly. Logan shows us that we probably never really cared where The Wolverine came from, but we sure as hell want to know where he ends.
We thank you, Hugh Jackman, for years of service playing this character. We are glad writer-director James Mangold found the perfect way to send you off in all your bitter loner-alcoholic glory.
There is no post-credit scene. They saved that for the beginning with an amazing Deadpool teaser. Prepare to laugh.
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