The X-Men movie franchise has had its fair share of ups and downs. And even as a die-hard X-Men fan, I have to admit that many of the franchise installments have been clear misses. Take one of the more recent X-Men films as an example – Apocalypse: a spectacular CGI experience but one noticeably devoid of true soul and character, making it hard to care for the plight of the mutants that drives its story. This seems to have been one of the most obvious shortcomings of the franchise, i.e. the creation of a world with characters that you truly learn to love, hate and ultimately care for.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as Logan, the latest X-Men movie doesn’t only manage to be a runway success, but goes a step further by completely re-establishing the franchise’s standing in the superhero cinematic universe. But who would have guessed that the franchise’s redemption would end up coming from one of the franchise’s ‘spin-offs’, especially if one considers how average all the previous Wolverine stand-alone films have been.
One the other side, one can argue that since Hugh Jackman has been fulfilling the role of Wolverine since the film franchise’s inception he has had ample time to sink his claws into one of the most iconic characters in comic book history. But ironically enough, it’s a radical departure from Hugh Jackman’s original take on the Wolverine that makes this movie so profound.
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But none of that would have been of course possible without the vision and guidance of director James Mangold, who treats fans to a very different version of the X-Men world that we have grown accustom to. If the prequel X-Men films deal with the group’s struggles in finding a place in society and the X-Men films set in the present day deals with their struggles in maintaining that position, then Logan very much represents the end of the line for the X-Men. In this not-so-distant future, the mutant race is virtually extinct and those that have survived have been ostracised by humankind. It’s a terribly bleak and dread-filled context, but one that feels completely logical and plausible, which is part of the reason why the film hits one so hard.
In a world where the X-Men have no more purpose, there is very little to do but to wait out the days until there is no more waiting to be done. This setting provides Wolverine and Profession Xavier (Patrick Stewart) with a highly volatile and engaging platform for a superhero film that breaks most of the genre’s stereotypes. If Wolverine represents the process of coming to terms with the mutant race’s inevitable fate, then Xavier represents the last strand of hope that a future for mutants might still exist somewhere. It’s this contrast in worldviews that drives the film’s most moving and powerful moments and thanks to gritty performances by both actors, makes for a mesmerising movie experience.
"It’s this contrast in worldviews that drives the film’s most moving and powerful moments and thanks to gritty performances by both actors, makes for a mesmerising movie experience."
Let’s of course not forget that Logan is still very much an action film and for this reason, you can expect some spectacular action sequences. Be warned though, these are not the action sequences that you have come to expect from an X-Men film. As the R rating suggests, Logan is loaded with unfiltered and extremely violent moments, some of which might be hard to stomach for the average X-Men fan. But as the film develops, you start to appreciate their role in highlighting the desperation of the film’s characters within the context of a world that they are clearly unwelcome in, but still desperately try to cling onto.
Be warned, Logan might test your limits and is definitely a clear departure from previous X-Men films. But it’s in the context of this risky departure from the series’ roots that the film’s success is so much sweeter. Logan is that rare superhero movie that cannot be compared to anything that has come before it and will take you on a cinematic adventure that is likely to leave you in awe.
Highlight: A moving conversation between Xavier and Wolverine during one of the quieter moments of the film.