From that very first trailer, Logan was already shaping up to be The. Best. X-Men. Movie. Ever. Full stop.
Everything about it looked like everything fans had been clamouring for from a Wolverine movie for years now. For starters, it was R-rated, promising F-bombs and slow-mo arterial spray aplenty. Second, it boasted a great story – an aging Wolverine babysitting his more powerful kid-clone. Not to mention, a real director in James Mangold, who’d already proven himself capable of bringing the superhero goods with his samurai-inspired The Wolverine back in 2013. (Basically, it was everything X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t.)
With the movie finally coming to theatres, the reviews have been pouring in. And they’re glowing, with many calling Jackman-as-Logan’s curtain call not just one of the best X-Men movies, but one of the best superhero movies, period. (Considering we’re averaging a minimum of six or seven of those a year right now, that’s pretty high praise.)
Here’s why everyone’s (rightfully) geeking out over Logan’s last stand.
It can stand on its own.
Unlike in Marvel Studios’ universe, where every movie is just one tiny piece in a larger, interconnected puzzle, where if you miss one entry (or even just one post-credits scene), none of the subsequent movies make any goddamn sense, Logan is a refreshingly standalone adventure. You don’t need to have seen a single X-Men movie to track what’s happening here – the year is 2029, mutantkind is dwindling, and Logan’s wrestling with his inner demons and DTs, not Magneto.
Sure, there’s a few Easter Eggs sprinkled here and there for the diehards, but it’s all in the service of telling this story, not paying off some larger plot point ten movies down the line. In fact, for those attempting to follow along at home, it’s probably more important that you’ve seen Shane than X-Men: Apocalypse.
It doesn’t follow the same-old superhero formula.
Yes, this is a movie in which a dude with metal claws fights a group of commandos with metal Terminator arms to save a young girl with metal spikes. But much like The Wolverine was a samurai movie with mutants, Logan’s a Western with X-Men – just swap the silver six-shooter for a set of silver claws. (And just in case you don’t get it right away, Mangold hits that theme pretty hard with a few not-exactly-subtle references to the 1953 Western Shane.)
But the best superhero movies, or at least the ones that stand out, bring something new to the table. Something we haven’t already seen twenty times before. Ever since Iron Man, Marvel’s successfully turned making billion-dollar superhero movies into a science. The only side effect being that watching one has become a little like living out Groundhog Day IRL. You can change a few details in the formula (like, say, the goatee), but it’s still depressingly easy to predict every major twist and third act turn. Logan is different. And different is good.
It’s for adults.
And we’re not just talking the fact that Sir Patrick Stewart drops a string of profanity worthy of a Tarantino movie. Thanks to the surprise success of Deadpool, Fox has fully embraced their inner potty mouth, carving out a space for themselves in the R-rated superhero territory that Marvel and their Disney-fied Avengers can’t reach. That means you can expect to hear a few naughty words and see all those decapitations and disembowlings previous movies only hinted at. There’s even brief nudity (gratuitous, naturally). And as good as Jackman’s been as Wolverine in the past, it’s always felt like the character’s been declawed somewhat. That’s definitely not the case here.
But where Deadpool felt like it was written by a pair of 13-year-olds keyed up on Monster Energy drinks, Logan’s got a little more substance (and way fewer dick jokes). It’s not just about seeing how many faceless henchmen Wolverine can gut. It’s also about pain. Loss. The indignities of aging. Sort of like someone turned Johnny Cash’s music video for “Hurt” into a feature-length film. Only, you know, with superheroes.
It gives us, and the character, closure.
The first X-Men came out in 2000. That means Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine for the better part of two decades now. Not even RDJ has been suiting up for that long. And considering the amount of money that’s made Jackman, it was easy to be cynical about reports that Logan would really be the last time the actor chomped on a cigar and called anyone “Bub.” When it comes to Hollywood and bank robbing, there’s no such thing as “one last job.”
So it’s almost shocking to see a movie that’s a real, honest-to-God “final chapter.” No dragging it out across two movies. No wishy-washy open endings. And even if Logan’s final minutes don’t hit home with quite the same gut punch Mangold may have envisioned – the movie’s first half is far crisper than its second – he and Jackman still deserve credit for having the foresight (and the balls) to know when to walk away. And the same goes for the sequel-happy studio executives for being willing to sign off on it. Anyone can jam a few swear words into a superhero movie. That’s not the hard part here. But for all of Marvel’s box office-busting hits, Logan’s able to do something the studio still hasn’t been able to figure out: how to let a fan favourite character go and move on.