Logan is a massive departure from the standard Marvel Movie tripe. One that places characters over bombastic grandiloquency.
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Logan Is Fantastic and that Ending is Perfect
I plan to jump into spoilers here in a little bit, I’m not going to go too deeply. Not like my normal reviews anyway…
I’d actually first like to discuss why Logan is the best kind of super hero movie possible. ‘Oh, no he’s about to get on his soapbox again… everyone duck…’ Yeah, I’ve waxed eloquent about my hatred for the modern super hero movie. I think I’ve bloviated about said philosophical position here and here and a million other times. But to sum up, I personally believe it is impossible to emotionally invest in a character with nothing to lose. We love dramas because they are high stakes affairs that can even mean the death of our beloved character. But modern super hero movies don’t have that appeal… at all.
I’m getting ahead of myself though. Have you seen the movie? Do you even know what I am talking about?
Where were we? Oh yes, Consider the Death of Superman comic book! They killed Superman! Remember!? Wait. No. Serious flag on play there. They never killed Superman. They put him on maternity leave for a couple months while a dozen other superman versions ran around in his stead, only to have him reappear, and his death explained away as a bizarre, never to happen again fluke (involving greenlantern’s ring or some such lameness? Like, it was such a stupid retconning job that even I have forgotten why they figured it could happen (Retconning, for you non-comic book geeks out there, is basically a new piece of information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events. It typically allows the comic writers a way out of a corner-painting job that they inadvertently did.)) All major comic book characters get retconned at one point or another. We can’t have their beloved characters REALLY dying can we? They sell too many books!
So, yes, comic books and comic book movies are mainly uninteresting to me because the paint the screen with special effects and blow each other up all to no avail. Sure, they bring in a disposable bad guy with each new movie. And said bad guy ups the ante from the previous bad guy. And invariably, the world is at stake. Really? Every time? And oh by the way, all the buildings the supers destroyed are miraculously rebuilt by the next movie? They have zero impact on the economy? Which reminds me of a book that flips the genre on its head: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson? Know it? Definitely turns these terrible tropes and uses them as a strength instead of a weakness. (Cannot recommend the Reconners Series enough). The economy is in ashes, and the super heroes have risen to power, and are now the dictators that rule the world… because absolute power corrupts absolutely… right? This is a plot line I can get behind. None of this benevolent protectors that graciously choose self sacrifice over and over again, like robots without a will of their own.
Right? So I hate hate hate super hero movies. (Batman is one that I adore manly because Bruce Wayne is basically possessed by his demons and is constantly struggling with his parents dying years before. Which provides infinite room for fascinating exploration. He’s fallible. And a man. So much greatness there. But he is definitely the exception to the rule, that’s for sure.) But then comes along Logan. Wait, what? An old guy comic book? (Reminds me of The Dark Knight Returns… which, is the second best comic book of all time. (First is Arkham Asylum, but that’s a different topic for a different day.) And deals with Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement when super heroes have been outlawed… which makes him the epitome of inconvenient, but I digress.) Logan as an old guy? Infirm? Sick? Addicted to pain meds and what nots? Healing slowly. Not doing well at all. Now THAT is a story that I care about.
I really don’t know how you guys get into these Marvel Avengers movies. Oh my good Lord in Heaven are they awful.
But this Logan flick? Wow did I dig that thing. We have Wolverine and we have wheelchair guy (yes, I know his name is Xavier, just stop.) and that’s about it. Oh, there is that Dr. Moreau character, Calliban. But he amounted to all but nothing. And then there is the Wolverine-like girl, Laura. And bad guys. But between a dying Xavier, an old Logan, and a mysterious Laura… which gives us a triangle of interesting pushing and pulling. We also get some sweet blade dancing, which is always nice. But the movie cares more about these characters than anything else. It cares about their stories and their pasts. Which, most comic book films do not.
What was that one movie… oh yeah. Chronicle. Have you seen that one? That is by far my favorite super hero movie. (Christopher Nolan not withstanding.) Such a simple idea. Three friends find a meteor thingy, and find they all of a sudden have powers. Powers to push things with their minds. Pull things. Even push themselves into the air. And as it goes, the movie is all about these three friends. (Which means that the story is basically Primer with super powers instead of time travel.) And it’s about how these new powers challenge their friendship. Character! All about story. I’m betting that movie cost a buck ninetyfive to make. If. (Alright, I just looked it up, $12 million. But basically $1.95.) And that is what we have here with Logan.
Two characters at the end of their lives. Reevaluating whether what they had lived for a was good or not. And not only that, but Xavier is on the verge of a nuclear melt down that could probably detonate half of the United States. That’s a story and a plotline that I can get behind. Again, I’m not a huge Marvel fan and really really disdain most of the movies. But wow did I dig the grittiness of this one. And the ending? Hahah, brilliance. Well played. Very very well played ending.
But as I don’t want to get into spoilers… Oh screw it. If you haven’t seen it, I’d leave now if I were you. Like run, don’t walk.
So, yeah, the ending… Logan dies. And with that, Hugh Jackman is now done donning the mantle of Wolverine. But the gave such great credibility that came before it. And in so doing, Wolverine gave a simple nod to Laura, his “daughter” that would carry the mantle onward from now on. But most importantly it allowed a god to die. If we a character isn’t mortal, why do we care? The Stealheart series by Brandon Sanderson turns this problem on it’s head by making the super heroes evil… because absolute power corrupts absolutely. Right? And then creates a cabal of anarchists against the “heroes”. Which makes everything interesting again. But in our current world of supers, there isn’t anything there.
But to allow Wolverine to die? You have my attention again. To kill them off? To make them vulnerable, as opposed to just trading blows in the boxing ring? Yeah, that is a great story that I can get behind.
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