Posted on Monday, March 6th, 2017 by Jacob Hall
Logan is the last time Hugh Jackman will play Wolverine. That’s been the narrative since the beginning, the chief selling point for a risky, violent, and thoughtful superhero movie that goes out of its way to tear its hero down before giving him one final ride. Come say goodbye to a character we’ve watched for 17 years, Logan asks. That’s enough to get butts in the seats. We’ve come this far, right?
And to the film’s credit, Jackman and director James Mangold have crafted a beautiful, bleak, and merciless farewell to one of the young century’s first cinematic icons. Logan, the Wolverine, James Howlett, whatever he is and whoever he is, doesn’t get the ending he deserves, but rather the ending he needs. (Spoilers from this point on, of course.)
One More Fight
No cities are leveled in Logan. There are no portals in the sky, no cackling super-villains, and no plots to dominate the planet. In fact, the war has been lost: mutant are near extinction and the United States of 2029 is an unwelcome, unpleasant place, a landscape where advancements in technology drag the poor and helpless along the road rather than give them a lift. All anyone, even a once-immortal superhero with an adamantium skeleton, can do is cling on for dear life.
The stakes in Logan are small. Will Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant, escape across the Canadian border with her band of fellow test subjects? Will her father, the fallen hero once known as the Wolverine, rise to occasion and fight for them? Logan‘s final fight is a desperate, chaotic affair – an old man who can barely stand launches himself into one more battle, all in the name of children whose future across the border is big question mark and nothing more. Logan fights not to save the world or to defeat a villainous scheme – he fights to give group of kids a fighting chance, an opportunity to maybe find peace in a new land.
Like the other battles in the film, Mangold stages the climax of Logan with brutal ferocity. The fights are nasty and violent, with those claws impaling skulls and limbs littering the forest floor. However, it is not a scene that invites cheers. It doesn’t thrill or excite. Other superhero movies, even the great ones, treat their action like a celebration. In Logan, action is violence and violence darkens the soul. It taints its characters like the adamantium has tainted Wolverine himself, weakening him, stripping him to the bone. The final stretch of this movie is downright funereal.
But the good guys win. The bad guys die. The clone of Logan, the film’s surprise villain, is put down with a special bullet our hero wanted to put in his own brain. And Wolverine himself is impaled on a branch, his healing powers finally worn to nothing. He doesn’t walk away from this one: Logan dies in the middle of nowhere, not as a member of the X-Men but as a father, a man who pushed himself to the breaking point for a tiny deed that no one will remember.
But Laura has his DNA. Logan lives on in his daughter. Sometimes, you save the world. Sometimes, you save a life. You take the victories you can get.