Logan – Excellent, But Not A Turning Point
This article contains discussion of themes that can be considered SPOILER TERRITORY for Logan, so you’ve been warned. See it first, because you really should. It’s awesome.
The most annoying discussion on the internet right now revolves around a movie that I love. And I hate that. But I also knew it was coming. I’ve been watching comic book movies for a long time and every time a movie that breaks from the norm comes out, there’s always a certain group of people who speculate that “This will be the game changer for comic book movies! The genre will never be the same!”
Logan is an R-Rated, violent as hell action film that nobody would even think to call a comic book movie if it didn’t star Wolverine and Professor X. James Mangold and Hugh Jackman’s bloody send-off to the Marvel’s most iconic mutant draws more inspiration from Unforgiven, Terminator 2 and the Mad Max series than it does any comic book movies. It’s also excellent; gripping, emotional, well-acted and well shot, and admirably committed to letting down its audience. In a good way.
Logan is absolutely something special, a movie you should see right now. It’s at minimum the best comic book film since The Winter Soldier and the best X-Men movie by a wide margin. Hell, if it wasn’t so damn morose and hard to sit through, it might be my favorite comic book movie, period. Those traits are to the film’s credit though. This is a movie about growing old and bitter, the disappointment of dead dreams and the grief over dead friends. Logan is a man waiting to die, though perhaps he can find a reason to stay alive.
The film is utterly committed to this mood. Any moments of levity are hope are fleeting and only exist to set us up for things to get so much worse than they were. That’s ballsy. How many blockbuster films aim to leave their audience emotionally devastated? It’s even hard to enjoy the R-Rated Wolverine violence we’ve all waited seventeen years to see, because it all happens in sequences where you just want Logan, Charles, and newcomer Laura to get out of the life-threatening situation they are in.
So, yeah, Logan is the real deal, everything I wanted from it and quite a bit more. But is it a game changer? Is this the turning point? Will comic book movies all become hard-R dystopian action that trades superhero comic book fare for the maturity of graphic violence, sex, and excessive use of the word “fuck”? Or is this perhaps the death knell for the genre, a sign that the world is ready to move on from superheroes altogether?
The answer to all of those questions is, of course, a resounding “No.” If they sound like stupid questions to you, I’m glad I’m not alone. I see these questions floating about the internet and it annoys me to no end. Not only am I confident that Logan is not the standard bearer and the new normal, but I also firmly believe that it shouldn’t be. And I think the film knows this as well. After all, the film is not just about the old guard on its last legs and ready to die. It’s about protecting the young and paving the way for the future.
Superhero movies are not just for kids, but they are primarily for kids. Even Deadpool is pretty much an angry little boy movie (not a knock, just a description). Logan is not going to change that. In a few months, everybody will be talking about how much fun they had watching the PG-13 gonzo weirdness of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, a film whose marketing is focused on an adorable talking tree toddler. Wonder Woman is about to, hopefully, become an icon for young girls who finally get to see the female superhero star in her own movie and kick as much ass as Iron Man or Batman. And Spider-Man: Homecoming looks poised to tackle the “teen superhero” concept in a way Sam Raimi’s films never did. Wonder what audience that’s aiming for?
Again, Logan understands this. I don’t know how many parents are going to take their kids to the theaters, but I can guarantee that young kids saw the trailers. And who did they latch onto? Laura. X-23 is the kind of uncompromised badass power fantasy that kids only dream of. I expect a generation of young kids, especially girls, to take one look at her and go “Hey, it’s Wolverine, but me!” and fall in love with her. Laura is what gives Logan purpose in the film, and that’s the example we adults need to look at when we discuss the future of the genre. It isn’t about us. It’s about kids who need heroes to look up to.
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Michael Ornelas and I write weekly on 411, taking turns introducing each other to films the other hasn’t seen. Last week, Michael introduced me to the hilariously awesome Black Dynamite. This week, we get lost in Labyrinth.
Have you seen Logan? Where does it rank among comic book movies?