My introduction to the world of superheroes on the silver screen occurred in the year 2000 with the release of the first X-Men film. It marked Hugh Jackman’s debut on the global stage. As someone who has been avidly watching superhero films for 17 years, I must admit that, with the exception of one or two, most of them have become rather dull to me. The primary reason for this lies in the evolution of superhero films, which began with a foundation in realism in the early 2000s but gradually drifted away from realism, featuring choreographed fights where heroes emerged unscathed. Characters in whom we could no longer find a hint of vulnerability were presented to a generation that couldn’t even survive Uncle Ben’s second death. At the end of the day, we know how the heroes will overcome their immensely powerful foes. This is where Logan, and also Deadpool from the Fox franchise, stand out. They represent the very essence of the real superhero, a concept we have been yearning for but only truly experienced in Watchmen. It’s the reality of superheroes that we had been missing, as we grew weary of watching characters lifting massive ships into the air without causing any harm to their adversaries, Wolverine dispatching foes with his claws without spilling a drop of blood, or the Avengers saving the world without shedding a drop of alien blood. In an era where these tropes had become tiresome and superhero films had morphed into “child-oriented box office” fare, Logan arrived like a savior!
Let’s briefly touch upon the plot. Logan serves as a sort of closure for the X-Men universe. The story of the X-Men officially ended with Logan. The film is set in 2029 and portrays Logan’s struggle for survival. However, this struggle is not one of warfare but of economics. Logan, who can easily tear apart anyone who crosses him, now works as a chauffeur and takes care of Xavier, whom he keeps at a distance from everyone else. Logan’s attempt to lead a mundane life is destined to fail, and trouble inevitably finds him. He suddenly finds himself as the chauffeur for Laura, whom he has never met before, and is forced to embark on a long journey with Xavier.
Logan is the superhero film we’ve been searching for all these years. Deadpool is also a character with powers, but I’ll exclude it because it’s a fun film. The act of supremely powerful superheroes dispatching their foes without shedding a drop of blood had become tiresome. Logan is the first example in a long time where violence and bloodshed are presented in their rightful place. The Wolverine character was an excellent choice to kickstart films that take themselves seriously because, unlike others, he doesn’t shoot fire or move planets. His entire modus operandi is to tear things apart. A man who tears his enemies to shreds should have blood on his claws.
From the very beginning of the film, we find the Logan character unfamiliar. He’s not the charismatic character we’re used to. The film opens with a “Fuck” and within a minute, we witness severed limbs. Hugh Jackman’s decision to make this film after Chappie results in a blend of Unforgiven, The Wrestler, and Shane. Logan, like the character in Unforgiven, is a retired cowboy who has withdrawn from the world. He’s old now, struggling to walk and unable to get up after a three-day sleep. For the first time, we encounter a superhuman who feels human. Essentially, these characters are all humans with their own private lives. The film provides the most compelling answer to the question of what these characters do when they’re not being heroes.
Those familiar with the video game The Last of Us will likely appreciate the story. A forced father-daughter relationship develops between Logan and Laura, also known as X-23, and they both begin to flee from an unwanted outcome. Xavier then joins the story. The triangular family dynamic they create is effective throughout the film, and it progresses on the foundation of the notion that “they need peace too.” We witness these heroes grappling not only with external challenges but also with themselves for the first time. The film’s greatest success lies in tearing away the traditional “superhero” package and revealing ordinary, relatable human beings behind the costumes. What sets them apart from us ordinary citizens is their superpowers, but behind those superhero identities are their emotions, feelings, fears, and curses. They laugh, they have fun.
Logan allows the audience to see the characters behind the costumes and build a connection with them. Then it plunges them into an inescapable quagmire, disrupting their peace. At this point, their superpowers become not an asset but a defense mechanism, even a curse. It deepens the fundamental mutant-human conflict at the heart of the X-Men story. Their powers are not a blessing; they are a curse. The biggest obstacle to the peaceful life they desire.
In conclusion, Logan is one of the finest examples of the realistic superhero genre that many of us have been yearning to see. It is not a film that portrays superheroes as charismatic, invulnerable figures but rather as real, relatable individuals. For those who seek films that reveal the true faces of these characters and not just their superhero personas, Logan is a remedy. Any film that can reach the level of Watchmen is sufficient for me. It’s clear that there is potential for a sequel featuring X-23. Hopefully, the X-23 sequel will follow the same path and provide a welcome break from the endless Marvel and DC extravaganzas. Lastly, the use of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” in the film was perhaps the best choice imaginable.
Cast & Crew
director: James Mangold
writers: James Mangold, Scott Frank, Michael Green
starring: Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Patrick Stewart, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant
USA | 2017 | 137 MINUTES |