As much of as I hate to admit it, Deadpool changed the comic book genre forever! Although Deadpool was not the first R-rated comic book film as many have said, that honor belongs to Blade, it is the highest rated R film of its kind. But enough about that, we are here to try to review what I believe could be a first of its kind in this genre, and quote my words, Logan could be the first superhero film to get a Best Picture Nomination!
Logan earns its rating in the first 60 seconds of the film. Hugh Jackman returns as what is supposed to be the last chapter in the character’s saga. Director James Mangold, delivers what this misunderstood character has been missing in the entirety of the past films. Now if you don’t know the background of The Wolverine you might have been hiding under a rock for the past 30 years. One of the most recognized X-Men characters in the series Wolverine has always been a big pillar of the franchise. However through the years and with the Saturday morning cartoons the character was softened to fit the mold of the other X-Men characters. With the giant success of the X-Men on the big screen the obvious next step was to give Wolverine his own film. However since the others films had already been successful as PG and with many fans of the characters being part of a young audience these films lost in my opinion the entity of what Wolverine truly was. Although they did bring some success, none of the Wolverine films were truly a giant hit.
But all that is in the past now…Logan has arrived! This is a significant moment in the genre. Don’t worry I have re-written this several times because I believe that you truly need to see this film as it’s meant to be, since the studio has gone to great lengths to keep much of the story under wraps. Now we know that Fox is setting the stage for New Mutants and eventually X-Force. So in Logan you will see that the studio is taking a much more serious approach to story telling. The film has the grungy feel that we have all been looking for from the Old Man Logan graphic novel, and the brutality of Weapon X. Mangold and his co-writers Scott Frank (The Wolverine, Minority Report) and Michael Green (American Gods) managed to finally create a nuanced emotional landscape around the characters that had been missing in previous films. Plenty of superhero films have dabbled into grimness (Man of Steel) and trying to create a more adult hero story, but Logan goes in deep in the story bringing forth despair, decay, and death.
As with Old Man Logan, the film is set in the not so distant future 2029 after most mutants have been wiped out and none have been born in 25 five years. This point is never truly explained, but rather it, in my opinion, lets the fans who have read the comics and know how this happen fill in the gap. Logan (Wolverine), is working as a limo driver under James Howlett (If you’re a fan you will know that this is his original name). He is aging badly, and the years of battle are showing. His adamantium skeleton is slowly poisoning him and his mutant healing abilities are failing, leaving him scarred and in chronic pain which he self medicates with alcohol and anger. He does this trying to earn enough money to take care of his old teacher Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart). While he is away Caliban played by Stephen Merchant tends to the ailing professor. The trio are drawn into a conflict between the organization Transigen as they are on a hunting mission of escaped subject X-23/Laura, played brilliantly by Dafne Keen. Soon the characters are on the run together and followed closely by Transigen’s cyborg security Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and headed by Dr. Zander Rice (Richard Grant). Although Mangold’s team were loosely inspired by Mark Millar’s series Old Man Logan, they take nothing from that storyline except perhaps Old Man Logan himself. Now the genius of the story telling of this film is how Mangold uses clips and quotes to draw comparison from the 1953 film Shane by Alan Ladd. Shane is a western about an again gunfighter whose attempts to settle down with a family lead to tragedy. Throughout the film the humanity of Logan is displayed and becomes much more powerful as it unfolds between a bloody mayhem of the fight sequences, and the tortured relationship and resentment between Logan and Charles Xavier. Stewart delivers an outstanding performance turning Professor X into a heartbreaking figure, on the verge of disintegration. Old age and trauma have turned him into an epic tragedy showing how far he has fallen from his glory days and his guilt for not being able to save the others shows as he develops a sentimental obsession with Laura and her safety.
There is a tremendous amount of pain throughout the film, and not the one inflicted by the characters dismembering each other. No one on this film wants to be were they have ended up. Unlike Deadpool who found cynical, playful humor in the most miserable of situations; Logan embraces its misery, showing that heroism and even kindness may be brutally punished. Of all the superhero films to date, it is by far the saddest and most serious and challenges the familiar idea of the superhero narrative. But that is what makes it unique and its complete devotion to being a tragedy makes it feel like what its intended to be a serious adult film that shows real world issues and problems. Now don’t be fooled this is a film filled with graphic, grotesque violence making it earn its R rating. But the film as a whole and Shakespearean emotional tragedy and violence lingers longer and well after the lights come on.
By Hiram Trillo
-Action, Drama, Sci-fi
Release date: March 3