*Possible Spoilers Follow*
Anybody who has heard me rant about superhero movies has probably heard me compare them to the Western genre. That might seem odd, but when you really look at the history of the Western you see that they were as wildly popular as superhero movies for quite some time.
They had larger than life characters who swooped in and saved the day, epic adventures across the land, and stories of good vs. evil. But after a while, the Western grew less appealing, and directors started taking a darker approach to the characters and tales as they began to deconstruct the genre.
I had been predicting that this day would be coming. Perhaps I didn’t expect it to come so soon, but with Logan we now not only have the very first deconstruction of the modern day superhero and it’s almost too good to be true.
Reuniting after the subpar The Wolverine, director James Mangold and Hugh Jackman are now finishing the story of the ferocious X-Men. Neo-Western, swan-song, road-movie, character study, and— most importantly—a “superhero” flick all rolled into one, Logan is the first of its kind to really transcend its own genre and for that it becomes one of the most emotional, thrilling comic book movies to be seen.
So often have I become used to describing the big spectacles of other super hero movies with grand descriptions that when a movie like Logan shakes things up I find myself at a loss for words. Even when you have movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and Ant-Man that break the mold of what we’ve come to expect, Logan still blows them all out of the water.
Words like emotional, poignant, deep, and painful rise up. This is a movie where the villain isn’t necessarily a physical being—there are a couple here, but they aren’t the strongest—but rather it is time itself. Time for the first time has an effect on the characters in a superhero movie (other than ones with time-travel, of course).
Wolverine is old, poisoned by what keeps him alive, and still the farthest thing from a barrel of joy. Professor X is even older, addled by dementia and seizures that have the potential of wrecking havoc. This is a real world; comic books exist but only as nostalgia-fueling pieces of fiction and death is always around the corner.
Hugh Jackman, in his final outing, might just deserve an Oscar nomination here. Taking the character he brought to life almost twenty years ago, Jackman harnesses all of the memories, pain, and suffering he has been through and unleashes them. He is angry, tired, and ready for death. His one solace is the hopeful dream of buying a boat and sailing off into the great blue with Charles as they spend the last days of their lives in solitude.
That dream is shattered when Laura (Dafne Keen) shows up and right behind her are men seeking her capture. Keen is a potent little firecracker of rage and badassery. She rips through baddies with her adamantium claws like whirlwind. This is a hard-R movie with some absolutely savage moments that will make you squirm and avert your eyes.
Her pursuers are malicious but they hardly stand out. Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant make for a decent villainous duo, but too often they simply represent little more than the force pushing our heroes out onto the road. The real struggle is internal, and the writers thankfully gave that the most intention even if it means having less-than-memorable villains.
Logan is a landmark superhero movie. Not only is it the retirement of one of the most recognizable characters in the history of both film and comic books, but it ushers in a new era of superhero movies that will hopefully spend less time on the spectacle and more time on its characters. Hugh Jackman acts his ass off one last time and reminds us why we love his Wolverine so damn much. Emotional, thrilling, and absolutely superb, Logan is the most fun I’ve had at the movies for a long time.