When the superhero genre is filled with over the top special effects and relies on the powers of its cast, Logan is a quiet movie focusing instead on the story of a man out-of-place and past his prime. When you’re a soldier without a war, and what you do best is kill, what does the world have left for you?
I’m not a fan of Wolverine in the comics. Much like Superman, his powers have been seen in a capacity that makes him Godlike and we lose the potential to fear for the character. Torn in half, decimated by a nuke, even the lost of his razor claws have done little more than slow him. Logan however quickly grounds us, bringing us into a world not far off in the future and with a character who is past his prime and barely surviving.
The story is loosely adapted from Old Man Logan, and fans of the series knew it would be altered due to property licensing. What we were given is story about a washed up mutant, trying to protect the one man who has always supported him. When a woman appears in his life claiming he has a daughter, Xavier, ever the headmaster, wants to see the child to safety. Logan on the other hand, he is an old man stuck in his ways, seeing the possibility for loss, tries to stick to his loner ways.
Tucked away in an abandoned mining silo, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier spends time caught between a man losing his mind and the sagely professor. Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman have a bond throughout this film that reminds us their lives have been interconnected for the last seventeen years. In heartfelt speeches and moments of tenderness between them, we see Logan’s regard and respect for the only man who has ever been a father to him. The movie goes to the extent of having them join another family for dinner to drive home the point. Sitting around a dinner table telling stories of their adventures in thinly veiled disguises, we see people, not heroes.
Similar to barn scene in Avengers 2, where we meet Hawkeye’s family, the characters are given a moment to be human. The scene is interrupted, as is the life of a superhero, but for a good long time, we are left with thought-provoking questions, something the genre is not known for giving us. What lengths would I go to protect my family? Could I be a father? Would I find commonalities with those different than me? What if my child was “different?” How does the most powerful mind feel about the fragility of his body? Will the world remember me when I’m gone?
While the movie features Hugh Jackman’s title character, a role he has grown and expanded to new layers of complexity, it is Patrick Stewart who steals every scene. Having killed hundreds of people with his telepathy as a seizure erupted and he lost control, we’re given a man whose strongest attribute is slowly failing him. Having already lost the use of his legs, we’ve always found comfort in him being able to step outside his body and move freely with his telepathy. Wrapped in self-doubt, grief, and blame for the atrocities he has caused, we see a man with no legacy, a man who tried to change the world and failed. His own mind has turned against him, and we understand his frailty. And while this sounds gut wrenching, we find ourselves often laughing at his old crotchety nature and the sharp jabs he gives to Logan. The playful Patrick Stewart we’ve grown to love, the one wearing matching outfits with Sir Ian McKellen also has a strong presence. I find myself frequently wondering where the role ended and where the actor began?
I should also include Dafne Keen for her role as Laura. X-23 is a complicated character because she simply does not understand who or what she is. Manufactured for war, she is the biological daughter of Wolverine, but has never known a father. While Logan’s mythos is wrapped in mystery from the fateful day within WeaponX, Laura has been bred for war. Watching her fight is amazing, probably the best choreographing I’ve seen in years, but it’s the moments in which she lets down her guard and becomes a child that we connect with her. She matches Logan in intensity, rage, fighting, and even comical moments, the pair together were magnificent in being reflections of one another, a true father/daughter dynamic.
I can continue to gush, and remind people that in the 70 years of comics we’ve read, we’ve grown to love the people more than the powers. We see momentary glimpses to the young cigar smoking Canuck, but more than that, we see the story of a man who is ready to say goodbye.
Since 2000, I have had the opportunity to watch my passion play out in front of me. For good or for bad, I have been along for the ride. Seventeen years I’ve watched Hugh Jackman play my angry uncle and Patrick Stewart play my second father. While I am sad to see them leave, they are giving the characters the farewells they deserve.
Now, we wait for the Next Generation.
As the title says, there is no post credit scene. I spent a good chunk of the movie trying to figure out where the next movie (even if not starring Hugh Jackman) would come into play? Would X-23 assume the mantle and have a movie of her own? Do we see the potential of the New Mutants? When the screen remained blank, I felt cheated. It took me time to process this, but overall, I’m content that there is no continuance. Fox set out to say farewell to the characters and the moment I realized they were gone, I came to grips with what type of story this was. No “to be continued,” simply a story of a man’s last actions.