An end to a speckled era. 20th Century Fox’s run of the X-Men / Marvel franchise has been a hit and a miss in a few places, but it seems the success of Deadpool has opened up the powerhouse just a little bit more with their final offering of Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine in Logan. The trailers portrayed this final outing as the penultimate, definitive Wolverine film, which is great, seeing I for the life of me can’t remember the ones before this. And you should follow suit if you want to enjoy this film even more.
The X-Men are no more. A world away from the glory days of mutants, the remaining homo-superiors are strewn far and wide, and Logan among them has fallen from grace. A minimalist title sequence opens with a Logan violently awakening from a drunken stupor in the backseat of a luxury car. Interupted by gangster types in the middle of a having Logans rims stolen. The first fight right away reveals the Wolverine we know and love is certainly not in his prime. From his talons not extending fully, to his weakened healing factor, Logan’s mortality is looming.
What’s even worse is to see the fate of Xavier. A once brilliant telepathic and telekinetic mind with a fierce intellect to match is now reduced by the effects of age and dementia. Xavier is bed-ridden and constantly sedated by Logan. A sedation that is necessary as Xavier is prone to ‘psionic flares’ that leave people in his vicinity paralysed. In a hollow, empty dilapidated tank with streaming light filtering through the walls. Xavier’s seemingly final resting place, eerily resembling the infamous Cerebro machine. It is an ugly, sad future for a man who ran one of the most prestigious institutions of mutant-kind.
Logan drives the rich, spoilt, ‘Merican-born dolts as a chauffeur, using his proceeds to pay for drugs to keep Charles Xavier sedated and taken care of with the help of Caliban, the mutant that can sense and seek other mutants.
Logan however becomes tracked down first by Gabriella, a nurse, who knows him as Wolverine asking for his help. And in Gabriella’s care is a little girl. You know what they say about the silent types. Well this is Laura. Also known as X-23. And the two are on the run from Transigen, a company essentially growing mutants and using them as weapons. But Charles, being in telepathic contact with the Laura aka X-23 comes to learn much about her and her undeniable link to Logan. Cue the Maury show end segment…
Logan’s dramatic need soon changes from buying a boat to live on the sea with a dying Charles to rescuing X-23 from the clutches of the company Transigen and their Reavers – an army of mechanical armed soldier-thugs – and deliver her safe passage to Eden.
Gabriella, the nurse that tracked Logan down with X-23 for help, finally gets a reluctant Logan to drive them to North Dakota in search of a place called Eden, a supposed safe haven for the remainder of mutant-kind. She however dies the day the trio were to make the journey. But before her untimely demise, she made a testimony /exposé video (which surprisingly is well-edited and presented for mobile footage). For our benefit we’re sure. She unveils the origins of X-23 and children like her being bred, using poor Mexican women as surrogates. The use of genetic material harvested from mutants and used to grow children like cattle. And the man at the head of it is the son of the man behind Weapon X program. The same program that created Wolverine, has left behind remnants of an experiment that have been revived in the most sinister of ways. You see, X-23 is not just a mutant. She is the daughter of Logan; Transigen used his genetics, to breed a new Weapon X. An ugly history inherited. And in a twisted perverse way this seems to be Wolverine’s sole legacy. One of hurt and pain. Loss and violent anger. Something that he alone can put to death. Visually represented by that mirror match with X-24. Sit down beat ‘em up fans. I didn’t call you.
This node of the Logan narrative – i.e. genetic experimentation and augmentation – is particularly interesting and packs an impetus for two reasons. Having X-23 as a clone in the comics takes away any personal, human connection if it were translated to film. Giving X-23, a human mother, though we do not see or know her, allows us to see her as not all-the-way a science project. A daughter. Not a thing. A lost child. Not a weapon.
Secondly it is the narrative of genetic harvesting and experimentation by Transigen on people they deem “poor and stupid” that struck a cord. The circumvention of law and morality, in this case, operating in Mexico and using her people as fodder, is far more reality than fiction. The Tuskegee Experiment. Thomas Jefferson and his enlightenment that sought to breed out light-skinned Native Americans much like the British tried to do with the Aboriginals in Australia. “Accidents” that result in the harvest of organs and body parts of ‘lesser’ people. History, and present, are rife with instances such as these. I thought it was a very mature direction for Logan, even in hinting, which rose my expectations that the R-rating was not put in place just because of some beheading and claws going through faces.
America sadly seems to be on the wrong side of history on many things. Slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration, gun control, the Syrian refugee crisis, just to name a few. And it seems they can’t escape even Hollywood’s sometimes right-pointing moral barometer.
The idea of a group of young mutants, arguably the last of their kind escaping Transigen in Mexico to safe haven in Canada, being assisted by a Canadian, and having the breadth of America be the most perilous place for them is political statement within itself. Too bad no one in America’s current “alt-right” administration will appreciate the message.
Okay so Logan isn’t exactly PM Trudeau, but he does act in a selfless capacity eventually, a lesson the Charles even in his mental state choses to instil in him. Though we found it humorous when Chuck tells Logan to mind his language around Laura, but profusely uses the word ‘shit’ in expressing annoyance at how Logan is treating him like a burden. That old age is a bitch.
And in the end, when Logan and Xavier are laid to rest, albeit in peaceful, unmarked graves – despite their perilous pasts, it becomes apparent that Logan is not about Wolverine. Or Charles. It is about his legacy and by extension, the legacy of the X-Men. And what is left in their wake.
And the answer to that is the same sentiments Huey Newton had when he said “the young will always inherit the revolution”. This younger generation, one that for a brief moment reminded Logan of the glory days of the X-Men, is the future. A daughter whose heart bled for a father she barely knew, and knew all too well. This is X-23’s inheritance.
Logan, by all extensions, was a violent ex-mercenary who found a lasting peace dying in his daughter’s arm, finally knowing what it feels to have someone of him. Someone to love. Whether you feel he came to this realisation just in time, or a little too late, Logan lets it be known that he cared. Cared enough to risk everything for the new mutants safe passage.
It feels almost biblical, when you consider another story of refugees – Moses leading the Israelites our of Egypt into the promised land of Canaan. And in that story Moses was allowed by God to see the new land, but never to enter it. In the same way Logan’s death falls upon him before stepping foot in Eden… if it even existed or if it was all fantasy contrived from the X-Men comic book. An X-Men comic book in a Wolverine film based on an X-Men comic series may be a little fourth wall punching, but it’s not particularly jarring. Especially seeing we’ve ignored all previous Wolverine film.
In any case, the young, displaced mutants journey through hell just to find a place that is safe. A place to call home. In Canada. Despite traveling through the length of America and being helped by one black family only to have them bullied by Canewood and slaughtered by Transigen – i.e. corporate America. Jesus, do better ‘Merica.
Though X-23’s Spanish may have been a little irksome pitch-wise, but there is no denying the fierce ball of fury X-23 is. when she first unveils her claws not even a Logan could deny at that point the kid was his. Hell when ‘shinkt’ revealed blades coming out of Laura’s feet, when Logan’s expression was enough to save in a small pack and snack on.
A little ball of fury that one, with a scream that sounds like hellhounds let loose to cause havoc. Dane’s range from brooding little devil spawn and teary-eyed emotive pre-teen angst is something that has to be commended. And who can forget the little father/daughter tag team in the woods, or how prone X-23 skills are in the scene during the getaway where instinct and reflex has her jumping on the cars hood that Logan is driving. She’s more Wolverine than Logan is, a tiny little ball of fury that darts in and out of blindspot pockets to help you catch the fade with blades.
Now, I guess more than anything, what do we see for X-23’s future? Will she be fully grown in an X-Men outing? A tie-in with X-Men: Supernova? Seeing Logan is reportedly the end-of-the-line for both Patrick Stewart’s Xavier and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, are we talking reboots all around? In any case, I think X-23 should have a future in 20th Century Fox / Marvel-verse. But one where she is fleshed out a bit more than just “Wolverine’s test-tube baby”. That would essentially make her more than the current plot device to set Logan into action.
From the minimalist intro with sound playing atop it, to the interesting neon-lighting choices, Logan felt a bit more explorative with creating an aesthetic that is some ways removed from the now so-called superhero movie. And while this is welcomed, is it executed with grace and precision? The short answer is yes. The right answer is somewhat. I felt at points the narrative became a bit stagnate, as scenes we weren’t learning anything new about X-23 or Logan or Chuck kind of dragged on.
Mind you, it wasn’t pretentious, and it delivered where it needed to, but I personally felt the narrative could be a little tighter in some places. Hotel scene. Farm scene. Nevertheless, seeing the stark difference of an Old Man Logan and a younger X-24, being played by the same person, is a lovely sight to behold. Especially in the low-angle shot of X-24 dragging Logan with his adamantium claws in his chest… just reminded me of this iconic image:
But with this last outing of the Wolverine, it still begs the question, what were the past Wolverine film creators thinking? While a part of me thinks that the R-rating freed up some restraints, the rating alone could not be enough to derail a good idea and a solid script.
And you know that tit flash was put in after the fact re: the R-rating. Felt like the 70’s again where every excuse to put a boob in a film was explored and decided upon. I’m just kidding, it was just one instance. Not even that great either. And I’ll stop talking now.
Logan, as the the final capstone on Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was a much better endgame than Milla Jovovich’s Alice in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Surely. And it is promising to see 20th Century Fox really beginning the explore the breadth and width of the Marvel-verse. Mind you it started to turn right from X-Men: First Class, but Wolverine, like always, wasn’t so lucky. Though stagnate in some places, it was a solid outing, though Wolverine being killed by a tree ain’t exactly the end we’d expect from the guy that single-handed killed off everyone in a Marvel series. In any case, kudos for leaving things on a good note. Whether you think it’s just on time or a little too late, at least we got to see it.