As trailers for Logan started premiering all across the internet, people have universally compared it to The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s critically lauded game from back in 2013.
The comparison is simple. A bearded, grizzled man treks a desolate future with a task to escort a young girl out to a sanctuary. My initial comparisons were to a different video game, for different reasons.
Namely, Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Both games are a sort of goodbye for their respective heroes. A discharge, after more than a decade of service. Both also feature older, hairy men completing one last mission.
That was the impression for most from the trailers. After watching it, my reactions were the same. This isn’t a whimper of a goodbye for Hugh Jackman’s signature role. It’s a bang. A bloody, violent bang. It takes no prisoners, leaves no survivors and shatters all expectations.
Shatters them in the very best way, exceeding whatever hype we could ever have for a solo Wolverine film.
In our current state of blockbuster fatigue, Logan stands above them. It never comes off as a superhero movie. Instead, it’s an edgy, almost western-like thriller. There’s no advertising for fifty other films in the series, no constant callbacks to the X-Men films before, no magical macguffin that comes into play because a villain in another movie needs it.
There is none of that. Instead, it gives its viewers something different. It gives them a movie. Just one movie. One that makes you forget about the other overly dramatic, CGI-filled messes that Marvel and DC constantly put out.
Logan (Jackman), through a series of violent events, takes a road trip to deliver a young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen) to safe place for other mutants. Now ageing greatly, him and long-time friend Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) must come to terms with the impending doom that awaits them in their advanced ages.
There’s a different tone to the film than to others in the series. Director James Mangold has taken cues from westerns like Shane and The Cowboys, both visually and thematically. All of it feels very understated, even in moments of extreme violence, which is plenty in this film.
Logan earns it’s R-rating, and takes advantage of that. Arms are chopped off, people are decapitated and wounds heal in graphic detail. It’s unflinching and brutal, with an underlying lesson that life is short.
It maintains the value that old westerns had—that even honor and truth come at a price. And that in the most grim of moments, hope has to be seeked out. It’s the most human that a film about mutants and super powered men can be.
Logan elevates the superhero genre. Instead of being confined to a PG-13 rating, the claws come out and give everything they possibly could until the end credits roll. This is the Wolverine movie not only fans deserve, but one that moviegoers who want subtlety and grace in their genre films deserve too. This is the end of a 17-year old journey, one that leaves the future wide open for a new generation of hopeful audiences.
Simply put, it’s one of the greatest, bloodiest and most sentimental comic book movies to be released, echoing everything from The Dark Knight to Mangold’s own 3:10 to Yuma.
Get some rest Logan, you’ve earned it.