Wolverine finally got a good movie because it did things superhero movies don’t do
THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT LOGAN SPOILED
I don’t need to go into it, we all know most super hero movies are bad and that there’s too many of them. They’re all the same. Each movie introduces a handful of heroes, there’s a menace to destroy the city/country/world/galaxy/universe, by the end of the movies our heroes save the day and by the end of the credits the next movie in the series is teased. This has been true for the most part since 2008 when Iron Man burst into the scene and took comic book movies seriously (bye bye batsuit nipples) and gave fans what they wanted but not much else. These movies are successful and most people love them, the elation of seeing comic book superheroes come to life and treated with respect by Disney/Fox/Sony was enough for most and the studios kept churning out these movies. In 2016 these movies reached a zenith of mediocrity and fan service and I believe no other movie was as guilty of this as Captain America: Civil War.
Civil War was marketed as the crown jewel of the Marvel cinematic universe where all the many characters sprinkled throughout dozens of movies would come together highlighted by the homecoming of Marvel’s prized IPO Spiderman to the Disney subsidiary. The trailers showed two sides of super powerful humans running towards each other on an airplane runway in what promised to be the most epicly violent and awesome game of red rover ever. Instead what we got was nothing. Nobody was seriously hurt. No relationships were severed. In the end of the movie the avengers are “disbanded” but Steve Rogers and Tony Stark still have a burner phone shared between them and the avengers still exist but underground. To make matters we have both a mid credit and POST credit scene teasing two future movies. Yawn. In the comic book saga of the same name Captain America ends up in jail, people die. THINGS HAPPEN. There’s not just an introduction of new heroes, light conflict then coming back to the status quo.
The few good superhero movies are good because there is legitimate conflict and stakes. The Incredibles is good because Mr Incredible IS defeated by Syndrome, if not for his family he’d be dead. There’s no question about it, there’s no deus ex machina that makes him badass for no reason. Watchmen is good because ultimately it was based on a book that had a defined ending, there was no milking of the franchise. There was no trilogy planned, Zach Snyder who made a mess out of Batman v Superman did a good job because the story was a good story WITH superheroes in it, not just a superhero story. The Dark Knight worked because the Joker just about succeeded in bringing down all of society and even in his partial failure he still succeeded in getting Batman outlawed. Without stakes, without change, without consequences these movies are nothing more than good way to rip off special effects artists. This is all a very long winded way to say that Logan is good because people die. Previously untouchable people that were needed to prolong a franchise died in this movie, and that’s what made it good.
Of all the superhero movie franchises X-Men is the worst. The strongest thing about the franchise is that it has one of the most popular comic book characters of all time in Wolverine. Aside from being too tall and too handsome to be a believable Wolverine, Hugh Jackman by all accounts has done a very good job of portraying the character over 17 years. Logan is the first movie in which his Wolverine acts like a real person in a real, believable, grounded world. Perhaps the best moment in the movie is when Logan comes across X-Men comics and calls them out for being bullshit, he points out that unlike those comics in the real world people get hurt and people die. This is the moment when I as a viewer knew that this movie was gonna be for real. It’s easy to be violent for no reason, it’s easy to make a revered character cuss for no reason, what’s not easy is to put these people in believable danger and to have them fight their way out of it in a believable way. Logan’s world is not a comic book world. He’s alone, he’s weak, he’s old and tired and he’s all the better for it. It is in this weakness that we as a viewer can see his “super”ness even better and it’s something that no costume, or theme song, or running down an airport runway can achieve.
I don’t like being meta, but seeing as how I already went meta with the comic book moment I’ll go with another one that happened in the movie. Near the end of the movie we’re introduced to a Logan clone by the name of “X-24” he is everything that Logan was when he was young. He is unstoppable, full of rage, he’s got a great beard, great muscles and is as one dimensional as a gun. He is what superhero movies are. It’s only fitting that it’s this guy that kills Charles Xavier and at the same time kills the innocent bystanders that we’re introduced to as a “normal family” who opened their doors to makeshift hero family. It’s a bit on the nose right? The one dimensionality of the super hero movie not only kills the character but kills the viewer as well. Again, kinda meta but still true.
Ultimately what kills X-24 is the little girl character with the adamantium bullet meant to kill Wolverine. Herself a hero, but perhaps a better version of one. This hero has not only told us she’s had losses, we saw them, we felt them we understand what it means and that it can also happen or will happen to her at a later date. But it’s not enough to save Logan, the damage is done and we see the most indestructible character both in canon and in the business of the X-Men franchise die before our eyes. AND It’s good! It’s real, something happened! Two major characters died, the world will never be the same in this universe. Also, there’s no end credits scene.
It’s only fitting that at Logan’s grave Laura cites the movie Shane, which she was watching earlier in a hotel room.
“There’s no living with, with a 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.”
Let’s hope there’s no more super hero movies and more of what Logan was, a good movie.
…Of course I realistically don’t think this will happen and fully expect a reboot of the X-Men franchise with a new sexy Wolverine in about three years.