Seventeen years is a long time to be doing anything. Hugh Jackman has been portraying Logan on the big screen for the same amount of time I’ve been collecting comics. That’s where the similarities end! The afternoon before I went to my screening I was feeling very nostalgic and it really did feel like the end of an era no matter what Logan’s final fate would be. So what I want to do now is just say thank you. To Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, everyone who worked on the first X-Men trilogy. To James Mangold and everyone who worked on The Wolverine and now Logan. Lastly to Hugh Jackman. He has embraced the role, plays it to perfection and is happy to take all the nerdy baggage that comes along with it.
I want to start by talking about the trailer. What I’m going to say may seem like criticism but it is merely an observation. The trailer with the Johnny Cash music is perfect, it was right on point from everything we ever wanted from a Wolverine movie. Rightfully it received all the plaudits, but it is not a fair reflection of what this movie is about. It doesn’t just apply to Logan it is a current trend in trailers for comic book movies. When you see the trailer then see the running time you know there is a lot more to come. Think of the trailer as an adrenaline shot for one last ride with the best there is at what he does.
The movie opening puts readers of Wolverine comics in a familiar place. We quickly learn that this Logan is not Bryan Singer’s Logan from 2000’s X-Men. F-Bombs and blood on the claws! I remember when X2 came out the scene where Logan rescues the kids from the mansion was considered cutting loose! The violence in Logan surpasses that by miles. But it is always there to fit the story it never feels forced. That was one of my worries when the R rating was announced but James Mangold makes it work, whether its Logan or Laura cutting loose. When I say Logan is a depressing movie again its not a negative. Early on Mangold goes about setting this apart from the previous X-Men movies. Unlike other superhero movies this is not about the action, it is a completely character driven piece. It is hinted at that something has happened to the X-Men and mutants on a wider scale but as it is not the focus of the story not a lot of time is spent with it and I was fine with that. Not everything has to be about world/franchise building. The real world setting removes any last hope we had for any panel by panel reproductions of Old Man Logan. But as fans we had widely accepted this was going to be the case anyway.
There were two moments that I felt were slight nods to that story but I’m keeping this largely spoiler free so I won’t say. Besides I forgot one of them anyway. On the comic side of things after reading every review and article since the movies release there are more nods and winks than you might think for such a serious movie. All through the movie I had this nagging thought. I was sure there was an issue of Wolverine featuring Caliban and some others in the desert. I dug it out to be sure and realised it didn’t bare any resemblance to the movie it was purely coincidental. Wolverine #99 if you wondered. Laura’s origin is largely kept faithful. Going in I was wondering how deep into it and be able to work it into the narrative. I’m glad they found a way to, especially as Laura is currently Wolverine in the comics. As well as the comics Logan is heavily influenced by classic Westerns but stops just short of him donning a Stetson. While the score by Marco Beltrami may not live long it the memory that too can be its biggest compliment. It too has Western vibes whilst being very minimalistic. Whether it is action scenes or more softer moments it just fills in seamlessly. I remember reading before Christmas that some industry people had been shown the first forty minutes of Logan. It was widely described as brilliant. As good as if not better than any comic book movie from 2016. The previous movie The Wolverine was very strong in its opening two acts. It very much felt like the Claremont/Miller story brought to live. The it had that hokey third act villain. As Logan moved along I suddenly felt we were going to get the same treatment. Without spoiling the outcome I can happily reveal that is not the case. No doubt most of you will know what I’m talking about by now. With hindsight of writing this days after I viewed the movie the villain I’m talking about did take a slow approach to acceptance from me. But I’m there now and his use works on so many levels. Particularity a metaphorical one. Which admittedly isn’t always my first thought sitting in the dark of the cinema. Basically I have nothing bad to say about Logan and not just because I am a Wolverine comics completest. If I’m nit picking maybe you could say there was too much Charles for a movie called Logan!
Lets talk about the cast. Hugh Jackman in any of the X-Men/Wolverine films can never be accused of phoning it in. This guy is so dedicated to the role it is unreal. You just have to look at how ripped he has got from 2000’s X-Men to X-Men Origins: Wolverine where he was at his rippling peak. Again in Logan the dedication is clear to see. I can only imagine the hours spent in make up getting the look for our ageing hero just right. The make looks convincingly painful and along side his performance makes it all seem real. Patrick Stewart too goes through the physical process shedding weight to portray the now ailing Charles Xavier. It is probably the most in depth performance of Xavier he has given. Moving outside of his usual inspiring leader role. Boyd Holbrook is perfect as Pierce leader of the Reavers. Although his name and that of The Reavers is used maybe twice. He joins the line of perfect slimy, snarling henchmen. Complete with southern drawl adding to the Western influences. He could just as easily be on Escobars side in Narcos with the performance he puts in here. Richard E. Grant is very good but doesn’t have a lot to do. Again the real world feel rubs off here on the villain. He doesn’t chew the scenery like other comic book lead villains. He is not colourful but he is certainly evil. In essence he is what a mutant hating, maniacal evil scientist would be like.
Unlike the negativity surrounding a lot of the 2D MCU villains Grant’s Xander Rice has clear goals and means to get there. Here I’ll have to admit it has been a while since I read the first X-23 trade and I thought Xander Rice was made up for the movie. I lose some credentials for that don’t I? Equally as good s Stephen Merchant as Caliban. In some of the more depressing moments he provides some laughs. Laugh out loud moments too a few of them. Might seem odd for the way I’ve described the movie so far but those moments were needed and didn’t feel forced. In a way it is the perfect middle ground between MCU laugh a minute and DCEU deadpan vibe. Logan has the best of both! The movie may be called Logan but the undoubted star of the show is Dafne Keen as Laura (X-23). Where do studios find these young actors for such intense roles? I could never imagine being able to portray the levels of emotion Keen does if I was asked to act. That is probably why she is X-23 and I’m just writing about it! In keeping with the characters origins its feels as thought the actor was born in controlled conditions just to fill the role when the time was right. She laughs, she cries, she snarls, she speaks Spanish, she does them and she does them all brilliantly. The claws are a natural fit! Dafne Keen is definitely at home slicing and dicing.
Logan is brilliant thats all there is to say. James Mangold, Hugh Jackman and everyone else involved have made a movie fitting for the best there is at what he does. Yeah I’ve used that twice but it felt right! This movie is for everyone. You don’t need to have read a comic or even seen the previous X-Men/Wolverine movies to enjoy this. Anyone that watches is can see it is art. It is not a comic book movie. It tells a well crafted story with no loop holes and without the need to get convoluted. Yes it is serious and doesn’t just rely on action but it is beautiful and needs to be seen. Lastly it is the perfect end for our hero whos adventure started seventeen years ago.
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
About Language of Bromance
Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
To become a LOBarmy Contributed
If you are interested in writing an article for the LOBarmy Intelligent Reports please contact Richard and Shawn at EatTheBeaver@LanguageOfBromance.Com or reach out to us via twitter @LanguageOfBro.