The Daily Gamecock

‘Logan’ breaks conventional superhero tropes

Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) tries to protect the young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) in "Logan." (Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox)
Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) tries to protect the young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) in "Logan." (Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox)

Seventeen years ago, the first X-Men movie opened in theaters and truly introduced the superhero renaissance in Hollywood that has been proliferated by Marvel Studios. “X-Men” not only gave birth to the new age of superhero media, but it also started Hugh Jackman’s legendary role as James “Logan” Howlett, a.k.a. Wolverine. Like many comic book character castings (including Ben Affleck, Heath Ledger and Robert Downey Jr.), fans were not happy that a 6’2” Aussie was going to play the Wolverine. (Logan is 5’3” and Canadian in the comics.) Obviously, nine movies later, Jackman has cemented himself as one of the greatest castings of all time, and “Logan” proves it.

In 2029, the X-Men are no more. The world is in shambles and there has not been a mutant birth in quite some time. Logan and another mutant — Caliban, played by Stephen Merchant — are taking care of Professor X, Patrick Stewart, who is suffering from dementia and has sporadic psychic seizures that freeze everyone and prevent them from breathing. Before too long, the audience is introduced to a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) who has more in common with Logan than he would ever like to admit. Thus, this small crew attempts to protect young Laura from the pursuing Donal Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) and his Reavers.

The performances of the three leads, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen, are poignant. Seeing Patrick Stewart literally losing control of his mind is heartbreaking. However, a great dichotomy is put in place with the addition of Laura, or X-23. It’s amazing how great of a job Keen did as a mostly silent protagonist for two-thirds of the film. Still, the limelight is certainly on Hugh Jackman as he portrays a beaten-up and bitter Wolverine that moviegoers have never seen on the big screen before.

The R-rating of “Logan” probably would not have happened were it not for “Deadpool” just a year before. Although “Logan” most likely would have been every bit as good as a PG-13 movie, one cannot argue that an R-rating is suitable for a character like Wolverine. This film is full of stabbing, decapitations and amputations, along with a gratuitous use of harsh language. However, I honestly believe that many people will enjoy Logan acting like this. Nonetheless, amid the gore and language lies a story of a father and daughter relationship that is as tragic as it is endearing.

The action, cinematography and acting are all noteworthy aspects of this movie, but the underlying story is really what matters here. “Logan” is primarily about giving Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine some sort of peace. This is a very character-centric story relative to many of the past Marvel and DC films that have sacrificed this for more action and a larger narrative. The past nine movies have seen Logan go through several catastrophes, and while the film certainly features Logan getting severely beat up, the dynamic with Professor X and Laura finally gives Logan the meaning he has been searching for. At one point in the film, these three characters disguise themselves as grandfather, father and daughter. These few scenes explicitly point out what was inherent in the film up to that point: Logan finally has a family whether he likes it or not.

Back in January, I said “regardless of your knowledge of ‘X-lore,’ it’s clear that ‘Logan’ will be a far different superhero movie than anything in the past few years, perhaps more along the lines of Nolan’s ‘Batman.’” After finally viewing the film, I’m happy to report that this thesis held up. “Logan” doesn’t care what you think about the past 17 years of superhero movies, it is not trying to conform to any standard. Director James Mangold created a modern superhero masterpiece that breaks several genre conventions, and “Logan” artfully sends off Hugh Jackman and possibly Patrick Stewart, while setting up an exciting new status quo for the future of the X-Men franchise. “Logan” is not your everyday comic book movie and it’s twice as good because of that.