“Logan” SPOILERS: The Best Superhero Movie Ever?
Logan has raised the bar for the Superhero genre, in more ways than one. If 2016’s Deadpool was the gateway to R-rated superhero movies than Logan is the tour de force we’ve always wanted. I’ve had lots of time to sit and think after witnessing the events in Hugh Jackman’s final bout as the iconic Wolverine. A character which he has portrayed for 17 years, and 9 feature films. That in itself is a remarkable achievement. I’ve already given the movie a proper non-spoiler review, which you can view here, however, to dig deep into why this is such an exceptional piece of cinema, I’m going to have to get into MASSIVE SPOILER territory.
The movie opens with Logan waking up in a drunken stupor in the back of his limousine. The first word said in the film is “fuck,” and right out of the gate you know this is the Wolverine we always wanted. Besides The Avengers, this is one of the few times I felt like I was watching a comic book turn into live action on the big screen. The no holds barred attitude, without the limitations of an average studio rating, is what the character so desperately needed to honor its source material.
When the drunken, and apparently seasoned Logan starts slicing and dicing a couple of carjackers limbs off, it’s apparent that 20th Century Fox and director James Mangold “went there”. The non-CGI blood splatter, the sound of bones breaking and the wear and tear it takes on our iconic hero is anything but a marketing scheme to sell more tickets.
Every time Logan utilizes the creative freedom of the nonstereotypical rating, it does it with a purpose to move the narrative and flesh out these characters we’ve been following for almost two decades. Professor Charles Xavier is now losing his mind, having horrific seizures that cause anyone remotely close to him life-threatening pain. Logan goes to a hospital and gets drugs for him illegally to attempt and suppress these seizures.
Seeing Professor X so vulnerable and out of tune with his powers and himself is heart-wrenching. Patrick Stewart gives the most layered performance to date of the once headmaster of the “School For Gifted Youngsters.” The pain in his eyes, voice and body language is remarkable, arguably an award-worthy performance from Sir Patrick Stewart. A scene during the film’s second act, which is gorgeously and breathtakingly done, centers around one of the Professor’s seizures. It’s a slow motion type sequence, taking place in a casino, in which Charles is being held at gunpoint by Pierce’s (Boyd Holbrook) men. Everyone in, and around the casino’s vicinity is kneeled over in pain, as Logan slowly but surely makes his way to the professor’s room, killing dozens in glorious bloody slow motion along the way.
Since this is a spoiler heavy article, it is about that time we talk about that scene. Yes, Professor X dies, in devastating fashion. At first, we see a presence walking in on the professor laying in bed. We assume it’s Logan, returning from helping a man who has taken the three (Logan, Xavier, and X-23) in for the night after they helped his family’s horses from certain death. The world-weary Charles is venting, remembering “what he did in Westchester,” which is the location of the “X-Mansion.”
Though it’s not said, and considering the current condition the professor is in, it’s more likely than not that his powers hurt, or even killed some (or all) of his students. As the now somewhat lucid Xavier is finishing his story, the silhouette figure comes into the light, a younger, healthy looking Logan. As soon as most audiences see this, their immediate reactions would be “this is a dream sequence.” I know mine was…
Unfortunately, it’s not.
It’s the genetically engineered creation that came from the same lab as X-23, which was lightly touched on previously in the film, named X-24. It’s a complete clone of Wolverine in his prime. X-24 digs both of his claws deep into Professor Xavier, murdering him in cold blood. The look on Charles’s face is utterly devastating, a look I still can’t seem to shake from my memory. The sadness and horror in Stewart’s eyes are awards-worthy alone, giving this iconic character a brutal death that he just doesn’t deserve.
When the real Logan returns a few moments later, he finds his mentor laying in a pool of his blood, unable to talk and moments away from death. The family that took the mutant trio in has been massacred by X-24, in a scene that’s straight out of a horror movie. After Logan puts Charles in the back of his truck, he and X-24 have one of the most brutal (and best) fight scenes in comic-book movie history. The two go claw-to-claw in a wonderfully choreographed, unpolished duel, in which every hit causes goosebumps and chills as the audience watches in awe.
What’s great about Logan as a film is that it takes its time to have smaller, more intimate character moments. That way when the action does come to fruition, we aren’t so desensitized to it that it becomes tedious. Having the stakes be centered on characters and not about an “end of the world” scenario makes for a much more rewarding, even though sometimes challenging, cinematic experience. The death of Xavier is the film’s big turning point, both narratively and character wise. When Wolverine and Laura (X-23) are burying the beloved professor, the voice of hope and slight optimism is gone forever.
Logan is now a film about a father getting his daughter to safety. Yes, Wolverine is the unwilling surrogate father to Laura. Her mutation is almost identical to her father’s, though she has adamantium claws coming from her feet as well, giving her great tactical defense against enemies. Laura doesn’t talk much, and when she does, it’s either in Spanish, or simple English sentences to get her point across. She’s an X-Men fan, having a stash of comic books in her possession. The schtick here is that artists and writers took bits of what happened on the Mutants journeys and dramatized them in fictional form. Not only is this a smart way to integrate the real life comics into the film, but also a rational one.
Laura is dead set on going to a place called “Eden,” which is supposedly a haven for mutants. The coordinates for this “Eden” is on the last page of one of the X-Men comic strips, which Logan says is bullshit. However, after the death of his father figure, Xavier, this is the only ounce of hope the duo have left. Begrudgingly, Logan and Laura drive together to find this sacred mutant hideout, which gives the father and daughter version of “The Odd Couple” a bit of bonding time together.
Laura was created in a lab, injected with the same mutation as her father since birth. She has never seen the outside world until she escaped the mutant prison lab, with the help of one of the nurses, Gabriela, who also documented many of the center’s inhumane experiments they practiced on children. Needless to say, X-23 has a tough transition getting used to the world. The videos in question also show many other genetically created mutant children, all turning against their captors with remarkable powers. Not only is it a treat to see R-rated hand-to-hand combat with claws, but with the addition of mutations like telekinesis, lightning and being able to move the earth (yes), we can see how these powers work in a way we never have before in a major tentpole film.
As we reach the climax of Logans third act, Wolverine and Laura find the tortured, mutant children hiding out miles away from this so called ‘Eden.” It’s there in which Logan realizes that this place may be real. We meet a significant number of children born into this program, all with extraordinary abilities, but fear for their lives regularly.
Not too long after Logan and Laura’s arrival, Pierce and an entire army track down the mutants in their hideout. As the young mutants begin to run and flee, Laura asks Logan to come with them, in which he declines. At this point, whether he wants and to admit it or not, Logan has developed genuine feelings for his daughter, begging her to get to safety.
As you might expect, it didn’t take long for Pierce and his men to catch up with the young mutants, capturing them one by one. The young-ins do their best to fight off the military trained task force, with some success. When Logan gets sight of this, needless to say, he’s not a happy camper.
Earlier in Logan, a certain green serum is brought up that if taken in small doses can help stabilize and manage someone’s powers. However, if you drink the entire thing, your body will go into overload, leading to death. Wolverine knows he can’t fight or heal the way he used to, and that his next fight could very well his last. So naturally, Logan drinks the entire bottle of the Fox version of “Super Soldier Serum” and for a few minutes, the ravage Wolverine is back.
This is classic Wolverine, in his purest and most aggressive form. He annihilates anyone who’s in his way, in R-rated euphoric fashion. Sadly, this is short lived once X-24 returns with a vengeance. Logan is shot at, stabbed and beaten to a pulp before even encountering his clone counterpart. Luckily, X-23 and her mutant friends come back to help the injured Logan.
After a terrific scene of the young mutants killing Pierce with roots from the earth, Logan, with what strength he has left, battles X-24. The action comes across more so like a torture scene than epic superhero battle. Not even the help of dozens of other mutants could save Logan, as he is ultimately defeated and killed by X-24.
The word “devastation” doesn’t even begin to describe Wolverines death scene. After another fellow mutant kills X-24, Logan is impaled against a thick branch, pinned to a tree. In an utterly tragic moment, the father and daughter hold hands. Logan’s final words are, “so that’s what it feels like.” The Wolverine is now dead, buried properly with two sticks making an “X” symbol over his grave.
I’m crying just thinking about it.
So, is Logan the “best superhero movie ever?” Well, that is subjective to your taste on the genre itself. Personally, I found Logan to be risky, daring, and an excellent final chapter in a seventeen-year long story. This is a dark, sad, and somber film, with the final shot being Logan’s grave, fading to black with no music whatsoever. You will not stand up and cheer by the movies ending. However, you will be thinking about it for hours, weeks, even months after seeing it. This does what so little genre films tend to do, and that’s take risks, have a complete 3 act story, while also entertain. Logan is Hugh Jackman’s well-earned swan song, and by God is that song beautiful.