Logan is not your typical Marvel super-hero movie. There’s no spandex-clad, broad-chested, flying super heroes swooping in to save the day. In this movie, the superheroes are just trying to get through the day. Turns out, in the Marvel Universe at least, the mutants can’t escape their humanity despite their super powers. They get old. Their bodies start falling apart. They can’t automagically heal themselves the way they used to. And maybe more importantly, they start to lose interest in trying to save the world.
The movie opens with Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) providing hospice care to a dying Professor X (Patrick Stewart). It’s brutally realistic. Logan and Caliban fuss over whose turn it is to watch Professor X. They worry about getting his meds. They have to deal the most dangerous brain in the world developing dementia.
Despite his every effort to withdraw from the world, Logan gets dragged into a mission, of sorts. Not a save humanity level mission, but more of an underground railroad thing. It’s fascinating to see his reaction to it. Even as he’s fighting the bad guys, you can tell it comes more from frustration than anything else. His heart just isn’t in the game anymore.
For a movie like this you might expect a change in heart. You might expect to see a renewed faith in a belief that it’s all been worth it. You might expect to see Logan take some joy and pride in completing one last mission. But death sucks no matter how much you try to dress it up and the movie ending is as brutally realistic as its beginning.
Much has been written about the influence of western movies on Logan. It’s there. It’s not at all subtle. But I took pride in recognizing one tiny detail. The costumers dressed Logan up the same way Johnny Cash dressed in his later years and even his hair had a half-wolverine/half Johnny Cash look to tit.
Patrick Stewart does a great job as the aging Professor X. He injects the necessary gravitas into the movie so that you truly believe that what Logan and Caliban actually care about is Professor X and the mission is just the distraction that’s keeping them from their duties.
What about Hugh Jackman? I’m not going to say that this is a defining role for him. But I’ll say that this role gave him the chance to actually do some acting that goes far beyond his previous roles as Wolverine and he was definitely up to the task.