While it may seem that virtually anyone can put on knickers over their trousers and become Superman, some superhero portrayals have to be delivered by one individual. Be it Robert Downey Jr. whose uncanny resemblance to Tony Stark aka Iron Man makes one question if he has to act at all, or Chris Evans who somehow manages to make Captain America not entirely obsolete. One actor though precedes both of his colleagues when it comes to “being-in-character”. Hugh Jackman’s 6’2” frame bore Wolverine ever since the first X-Men landed in cinemas during the 2000’s. It was masochistic on many levels, therefore, to go watch the newest instalment, knowing it’s their dernier. Logan is a movie you would love to hate, but can’t because it sends our clawed mutant out with a blast. Literally.
After 20th Century Fox slowly butchered the iconic series, with X-Men: Apocalypse among its latest atrocities, it was hopeful to see director James Mangold understand that the superhero movie audience has aged. “Suddenly we have permission to make a more grown-up movie. Suddenly you are not making a movie for 8 year olds. And so with children gone. There is a permission to go deeper. To make [Wolverine] vulnerable, more open. To be a protector, to be paternal, to be a good son. Those are the things that are going to be hardest for him. Harder than fighting a villain,” he concluded in one of his interviews. And that’s exactly what is expected now – it’s no longer about children wanting their share of Batman facing his nemesis. As we evolve, the heroes have to evolve with us.
The movie wasn’t about showing off Logan’s abilities, because we know them, we have seen them. It was a brave dive beneath what Wolverine is and rather trying to understand who he is.
As such, the strongest theme of the story are his relationships.: the repeatedly implied father-son connection with the former mentor Charles Xavier, Logan is taking care of the professor; his role as a father to a young mutant Laura. Both ask for more than savage roar and unsheathing of claws. And it is felt on many occasions that he would love to do just that. As such, Logan is most of all a psychological drama.
It was said before that we want heroes to age with us. Yet it’s bittersweet to watch. The scene where Wolverine has to pull out one of his talons physically hurts, and not just because Johnny Cash is playing in the background. Suddenly it’s clear that invincibility does not provide invulnerability. And even the immortal can’t escape the maw of time.
Logan is more in the spirit of Shyamalan’s 2009 Unbreakable or Alan Moore’s 1986 Watchmen than the preceding X-men films, delivering both action and emotional complexity. It is a perfect transition from black and white superheroes in costumes to struggling men and women, who count wrinkles on their foreheads with the same feeling of bitterness that we do.
Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein © 2017 Marvel. TM and © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.