If you’re one of the movie goers who contributed to Logan’s $85.3 million domestic opening over the weekend, then this review is for you. For everyone else, you may want to go see Logan before reading. The following article Logan: The End of an Era will contain spoilers. This will be your only warning. Clear? Good. Now that we have that bit of business out of the way, I wanna talk about the movie everyone else is talking about. That’s right if you haven’t guessed it, I was one of the nerds…sorry, geeks who ventured and braved the crowds to see Logan. I sat shoulder to shoulder with friends and strangers to witness the end of an era. Which era? The Wolverine, or at least Hugh Jackman’s portrayal as one of the more popular characters in the X-Men lexicon. And let’s face it, this may very well be the end of the character Logan as well, for the time being. At this stage, I don’t see anyone else picking up the reins and having much chance of success. But, that’s a conversation for another day. As I said, I wanna talk about Logan.
Here’s a quick synopsis from the always loveable IMDb:
“In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.”
Not a bad synopsis, as simple as the basic premise and catalyst of the film itself. Better than the typical three words they usually give movies. And they’re not wrong, as the movie opens, the year is 2029, and sleeping Logan is woken by a gang on the Texas-Mexico border attempting to steal his tires. Logan stumbles on the scene and gives a somewhat slurred warning for the would-be “bad guys” to do themselves a favor and take off. On par with what most red shirts do, they ignore his warning and shoot him down. A typical setup for any superhero action movie. But there’s somewhat different here. Something amiss. Wolverine isn’t getting up as fast as he used to. He’s taking a lot more punches until he’s basically driven into an animal like state, lashing out wildly and somewhat lazy. EVenutally in what would have normally taken him seconds, he finally dispatches the would-be thieves, jumps back into his car (a limo BTW), and takes off. He stops at a nearby gas station and runs into the bathroom to clean himself up. It’s here we see more evidence that something is not right with our beloved hero. His body is riddled with poorly healed scars. Marks that would have in the past healed over in a blink of the eye, are now a visible roadmap who his harsh existence.
So, I’m not going to do a play for play on this review. If you’ve seen it, then you already know what happens.
For the most part, Logan (as a movie) felt very familiar. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Wolverine as the reclusive hero or even the reluctant hero. In just about all the movies thus far in which Wolverine makes an appearance, he has been the grumpy cigar smoking asshole everyone loves, except for in Days of Future Past (my favorite X-Men movie) in which he took lead role as the dominant leader of the pack, and of course his cameo in X-Men Apocalypse, one of the few highlights of that movie where they finally got the Weapon-X story arch right. Tell me I’m wrong, but besides those two movies, has not Wolverine always been the “reluctant hero?” And that’s okay. It’s his MO. What it really means is that director James Mangold will have to work twice as hard not to bore the shit out of long time fans. Something he wasn’t quite able to do in his first foray with Wolverine in The Wolverine (2013), which to be fair was much better than the previous Wolverine movies, the duo bust that-shall-not-be-named (Last Stand and Origins), he still fumbled a bit with the ending. The majority of The Wolverine was pretty good, I thought. Bringing Logan out of his guilt and into his true purpose as a soldier/warrior.
Carrying into Logan, Mangold brings the evolution of this “warrior’s tale” to its final conclusion, in a movie that works as both a western and as a dystopian without having to resort to a dismal apocalyptic future. No, the Sentinels are not to blame. Nor is Bolivar Trask. Or even Col. Striker…well, perhaps his legacy is to blame for some of it. No, the real bombshell is that it was Xavier’s degenerative brain disease that is to fault in the so-called “Westchester Event,” as he called it in an impromptu confession of sorts, to the deaths of the mutants, or at least the X-Men. Most of the backstory is left to interpretation and not filled in with lazy narration or exposition. This “revelation,” just before Xavier’s final moments, reveals that this is NOT just another reluctant hero movie, this isn’t a rinse and repeat from Mangold’s first go with Wolverine back in 2013. Logan was a hero, he was a warrior and a soldier, but after witnessing the deaths of his friends, an event that would send any hero Helter Skelter, he’s simply lost his purpose, his banner…now set on caring for himself, and also an ailing aged Professor, and of course Caliban is there too. Can you image?He’s caring for the man who killed his friends, not malevolently of course, to no one’s fault but the disease. Still…what a burden, right? Enough to make anyone a selfish prick.
So, the motivation makes sense, and though they make stem from the same vein as previous films, the differences make all the difference. Logan is a wounded, dying animal driven into a corner, and as such furiously defends himself and his very selective circle. But then a strange woman arrives and begs for that “hero,” the legend that this Wolverine, to return and help guide a young mutant, Laura (who happens to be his daughter), played wonderfully by Dafne Keen, to a place called Eden on the Canadian border. Eden is a place mentioned in a comic book, along with a set of GPS coordinates. But Eden doesn’t really exist, and it does exist. This part of the story was kinda brilliant, playing off audience expectations. Seeing an X-Men comic, kinda fourth wall; kinda not, showcasing a sentimental view of the X-Men and this place called Eden, which Logan constantly tells Laura doesn’t exist because it’s in a comic book, therefore fictional, and then, in the end, Eden does exist, but not in the way audiences may have expected. Eden was simply a rondevu point for the escaped children who were part of an initiative designed to re-create the Weapon-X program, the same program that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and claws.
From here the conclusion is drawn in the sand. Thanks to the children, and some hair trimmings, Logan becomes what he was always meant to be. Not a warrior for hire, but a hero. A very angry and very very violent hero, facing off against what he could have become had he remained in the original Weapon-X program, a rampaging, feral, mindless killing machine. This clone aspect was interesting and very symbolic, forced to square off against one’s past, a somewhat distorted mirror image. For a moment, I thought X-24 looked somewhat like Sabertooth from that dreadful Origins movie with the mutton chops. For a story arch this long, spanning seventeen years, the ending of Logan was exactly how it should have ended. Just like with the “what happened to all the mutants” question, the “why isn’t Logan healing” is also kind of fill in the blanks. The assumption I think is that Logan is suffering from some sort of long-term exposure to adamantium. his healing factor is all but burnt out now. Knowing this, we should have known going into this movie that Wolverine was not going to ride off into the sunset. This was his last mission, not to save the future, but to give the future a chance. While sad, the ending is fitting, as Laura and the other children bury Logan, marking his grave with a wooden X, and running off into an unknown destiny.
I’m sure more will be said regarding all those metaphors and symbolisms we grazed over about family and parenthood or fatherhood, and all that. For now, let me close this review with one final summation. Why did “they” have to get Wolverine right on the FINAL movie??? Seriously. Finally, as audiences would no doubt want more, we’re given the last bill. The emotional setup was near-perfect, opening the curtains by giving us a brief look at Deadpool 2, everyone laughing and then closing the curtains with Logan’s death and an uncertain future for a new generation of mutants. And the no after credit scene added to the realization, this was it. Perhaps not the end of the X-Men, but certainly the end of an era.
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.
Thomas S. Flowers is the published author of several character driven stories of dark fiction. He resides in Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He is published with The Sinister Horror Company’s horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. His debut novel, Reinheit, is published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein and Apocalypse Meow. His military/paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, both Dwelling and Emerging and Conceiving, are published with Limitless Publishing, LLC. In 2008, he was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army where he served for seven years, with three tours serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2014, Thomas graduated from University of Houston Clear Lake with a BA in History. He blogs at machinemean[dot]org, where he does author interviews and reviews on a wide range of strange yet oddly related topics. You can keep up with Thomas and all his strange books by joining his author newsletter, at http://goo.gl/2CozdE.
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Is it just me, or does it seem like nerds have completely taken over everything worth watching? Don’t get me wrong, I am a nerd, and — as one of my favorite drive-thru commercials often says — “I’m lov’in it.” No complaint here. Its just strikingly odd to find such a concentrated pooling of nerd based entertainment in a incredibly bottle necked period of time. Lets count the cost. Marvel is dominating theaters. DC is smoldering television. And horror in general has made a lot of strides since the decade of reboots (the early 2000’s) in both theaters and television. It is truly an amazing time for nerds. Sure, there have been some misses. But there have also been a lot of hits. And it feels as if our movies and shows are picking up traction and getting better and better as the decade moves along. Yes. This era of nerdom will pass, sadly. Trends come and go on the evening tide. However, the time for mourning has not yet come. Instead, we should be celebrating the advancement of these amazing nerdy forms of entertainment.
If you have not yet partaken in the nerdness, no judgments my friend. Though I do feel a little sad for you. If you’re looking for a solid base to jump into the fray, considering any of the following movies and television shows! You will not be disappointed.
Iron Man (2008): If you’re going to start anywhere, Iron Man would be a good option. Back in 2008, Iron Man was one of the first “good” superhero movies that teed up the Marvel line up quite nicely.
Avengers (2012): If can skip all the individual movies, the set up for the mother of all nerd movies; however, I do require that you at least watch Captain America: The First Avenger before watching The Avengers. You can skip Thor and Iron Man 2 if you want.
Captain America: Winter Solider (2013): Okay. So maybe flicks like The Avengers are a little too crowded for your tastes. Or perhaps its a bit too nerdy and comic bookish. Again, no judgments. If The Avengers isn’t cutting it, try Winter Solider. This last Capt America movie was by far one of the best Marvel movies yet. That’s right…even better than Guardians of the Galaxy (Judge away nerds!). It was old school espionage, giving a nod to both the Cold War era action movies and toward the comic. I loved the first Capt flick cause I’m a sucker for period pieces, but Winter Solider was just so damn good, especially during an era when we’re just now looking back and analyzing the post 9/11, post Patriot Act world.
Gotham (Fox television): DC may be getting creamed in the theaters, but damn if they’re not dominating cable television!! In an area where Marvel seems to be stumbling hard, DC has done nothing but pick up momentum since Arrow aired a few years back. Now we’ve got the Flash, Arrow, Constantine (my person favorite, thus far), and Gotham. And some nerds are protesting this new re-telling of Gotham origins; however, I am not one of those critics. I love the show, especially since I was never a hardcore reader of Batman growing up. The show gives assuming and nostalgic easter eggs while still maintaining a well thought out story. The Flash is a little campy, but watchable. The Arrow has been hard core since the start. And Constantine, as I said above, is one of my favorites because its the more gritty side of DC. An amazing combination of horror and comic. Gotham is worth the watch, if anything, to at least see a new origin take on Oswald Cobblepot, my favorite DC villain, second only to Killer Croc.
And there are many more, of course, not mentioned here in this article. Supernatural has made a strong come back from last season’s snorefest. American Horror Story is still one of the best horror anthologies ever to grace television boxes. Sleepy Hallow comes and goes, depending on the episode, definitely worth checking out on Hulu at least, or wait for the inevitable Netflix release. And The Walking Dead has also made a triumphet return, much to the joy and satisfaction of zombie nerds everywhere. Personally, I feel as if I’ve never had such a hard time keeping up with shows as I used too. Either way, I hope the trend lasts and continues to grow.
What are some of your favorite nerdy shows to come out? Or are you still waiting for yours to make an appearance?