I meant to write about my thoughts on Logan (2017) the day after I saw the Wednesday last week. But being the pro procastinator that I am, I always managed to find excuses not to get this post out when I originally wanted it to. Sigh.
Having been a fan of the X-Men franchise, I’ve always seen the potential of a bigger story for Wolverine but always left disappointed at what 20th Century Fox gave him in X-Men movies. Wolverine is an anti-hero with a tortured past and profound personal struggles whom we have grown to love. I was a teenager when the first X-Men movie came out and that was the first time we get to see Wolverine on live action. Typical of the antiheroes in American pop culture that emerged after the Vietnam war, Wolverine lacks the conventional heroic attributes. We saw the brooding, animalistic killing machine Wolverine but we’ve never really knew him.
Together with a group of mutants led by Professor X called the X-Men, we’ve seen Logan (born as James Howlett) fought evil human and mutant villains alike and saved the day. We’ve seen him died and resurrected. We’ve seen him loved and loss his loved ones, either in his hands or by those who wanted to hurt him. In between all these, we’ve seen a glimpse of Logan living in seclusion and struggled silently with his past. But none of the X-Men movies featuring Wolverine or his stand-alone movies managed to give us what we really wanted; a deep, thorough, character-driven story of Logan.
While it totally blew me away that they ACTUALLY made Logan the way it is, it really was no surprise to me to see all the rave reviews and how everyone who’ve seen it walked out emotionally affected and claimed that it was the best superhero movies they’ve seen. Logan is the Wolverine movie that we’ve always wanted to see and what Wolverine deserved. After almost two decades, I finally walked out of a Wolverine movie emotionally wrecked yet, incredibly happy.
Logan (2017) is the final spin-off chapter in the Wolverine saga and it’s nothing like the X-Men movies or any superhero movies we’ve seen before (save for Shyamalan’s Unbreakable). It is sombre, raw and emotional. Actions are there when needed and conversations are mainly about regrets, sorrow and rage at what the world has come into. Set in 2029 when mutants are said to be extinct and what’s left of the once powerful mutant defenders the X-Men, are the frail Charles Xavier and the weary Logan. Both men are in pain, tired and has clearly given up on life, the complete opposite of the characters that we’ve known for the last seventeen years.
Logan works as a limo driver to earn money to buy medications for the ailing Charles. Along with another mutant named Caliban, they live in an abandoned power station at the Mexican border. They’ve gone through a lot together, the world they knew has long gone and they’re almost certainly done with hope until a little girl comes along and forces them to fight one last time.
Logan understands life, death and what’s in between.
People get old and death comes for everyone at their own time. After almost two decades of seeing Professor X and his team saved the world a couple of times, it’s easy to see him as an infallible character. But even the most powerful mutant with the ability to kill people with his mind couldn’t outrun nature. It wasn’t a mighty supervillain that brought Charles Xavier to his fall; it was old-age. This realization is soon followed by a tragic end for his character in the movie.
“This was the most perfect night I’ve enjoyed in a very long time. But I don’t deserve it, do I? I did something… something unspeakable.”
Thinking that he was talking to Logan, Charles turned around and was stabbed by X-24 who looked like the younger version of Logan. With his mind failing, he might have thought that it was really Logan who finally snapped and took revenge on him for killing his mutant friends when he had one of his psychic outburst. When the real Logan finally took Charles’ almost lifeless body to the back of the truck and frantically told him, “it wasn’t me!” I totally lost it. This was the first emotional jab in Logan that made me broke down in tears. Charles Xavier a.k.a Professor X, the mutant with the most powerful mind in the world is finally dead and buried in a makeshift grave in an unsignificant location somewhere in America. This is definitely not the ending we’d thought the noble Charles Xavier deserved after a lifetime of leading a group of people committed to protecting humanity even when they themselves suffered from persecution and hatred. Life is fragile, even for an omega-level mutant like Charles. There is no guarantee of closure, redemption or a glorious end.
Death of loved ones is often devastating and can easily break a person deep inside. As much as it broke them that Charles is dead, all Logan and Laura can do is to move on. When death finally comes for Logan, it broke me in tears again but I knew that it was for the best.
Logan has lived a life full of fighting, torture and killing. It seems cruel that he was meant to go down this path from the very beginning. Whether or not he deserved it, he has to live with the terrible things that he did in the past.
“There’s no living with the killing. There’s no going back from it. Right or wrong, it’s a brand, a brand that sticks. There’s no going back. Now, you run on home to your mother and tell her, tell her everything’s alright, and there aren’t any more guns in the valley.” Laura’s eulogy taken from the movie, Shane (1953)
Ultimately, Logan is a drama about deep, emotional pain, regret and death. The film ends with a faint glimmer of hope, telling us that the past is done and now it’s time to move on. The ending perfectly depicts the fate of both Wolverine’s story and the X-Men movie franchise. It’s the end of an era, with Hugh Jackman being the last actor from the orignal X-Men cast still portraying his character, and the birth of the new generation of X-Men led by Laura/X-23. Any way you’d look at it, it’s simply masterful. I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask for another ending.