Fans and critics alike have hailed Logan as one of the finest superhero movies to date; one that brought a level of symbolic seriousness and artistic grit to a genre that many feel is all too cartoony and overblown. It was known in advance that this would be the final time Hugh Jackman would portray Wolverine, the character he had made his own since his first appearance in 2000’s X-Men. Logan is therefore a more than fitting swan song, the tired, beaten anti-hero making one last final run at meaning; a last grasp at validation for a life of violence. Indeed, it deserved its comparisons to films like Unforgiven, not just for its themes and tone, but also for its lasting effect on the genre.
We here at CBR tend to agree that Logan is not only a great superhero movie but also a credit to the entire genre, but is that going to stop us from picking at the stuff that doesn’t quite work? You must be joking. Some of these things are easier to ignore than others, that much is true. But even for a movie of the highest standards, it sure is interesting to think about how it could have been even better. Impossible, you say? Read on, bub!
15 THE ILL-ADVISED KINGPIN REFERENCE
When Eriq La Salle, a long underutilized acting talent, showed up as kindly farmer Will Munson, it wasn’t a disappointment at all. However, we definitely hoped that he’d have a larger, meatier role. But his kindness and generosity were, together, a terminal sentence for his character and his family.
A movie like Logan is going to require that a lot of people meet their ends in order for the plot to move along. However, as the Munson family is being ruthlessly taken out, all that was on our mind was that the family wasn't, ironically, "munsoned" (a term made famous by the classic dark comedy Kingpin, meaning "blowing it" or in this case,"getting perished"). As you might imagine, this did not lend much to the gravity of the scene.
14 STEREOTYPED GANGSTERS
A lot of the cannon fodder in this film is made up of small-time hoods, bullies, and thugs. But also since this isn’t a John Sayles film, we don’t have time to stop and get to know the motivations of every two-bit crook our heroes come across.
In the opening scene, Logan is forced to "dispatch" some car thieves, who meet and exceed some racial stereotypes of the latinx community: flannel shirts, hoodies, do-rags. It would take us right out of the movie if this gang were made up of, say, little old ladies or green men from Mars. But being too predictable can also harm the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. It’s a good thing this scene is so unbelievably entertaining.
13 THE REAVERS GOT SHORT SHRIFT
True to the character from the comics, Boyd Holbrook plays villain Donald Pierce as an intelligent, evil man, who has not bothered to give his actions a second thought because he is simply enjoying himself too much. But the Douglas Pierce of Logan is a somewhat more subdued version, and the Reavers in the film follow suit in this regard.
Instead of cyborgs named Bonebreaker or Skullbuster, we get an army of nameless mercs fitted with more subtle technological upgrades, mostly robot hands. Again, we don’t have time in this movie to give every single bad guy an origin story, but do we have time for a guy who has tank treads for legs and a Mohawk? The answer is yes. Always.
12 THE CALIBAN DISCREPANCY
British comedian/actor Stephen Merchant turns in a top-notch performance as mutant-tracking Caliban, and he is able to access levels of believability and comic relief that help to keep the movie from being overstuffed with its own seriousness.
However, in X-Men: Apocalypse, set in 1983, Caliban (as played by Tómas Lemarquis) appears to be in his early 30s, yet has apparently only aged a couple years before Logan, which is set in the year 2029. Turns out this was all just a goof-up. James Mangold later said that he wrote Caliban into Logan without anyone realizing he was in Apocalypse and vice versa. Whoops. Guess no one tracked that mutant.
11 NO DEADPOOL/WOLVERINE MOVIE
Whatever your opinion on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we didn’t get to see Wolverine team up with the most recent and definitely more fun iteration of Deadpool, as played by Ryan Reynolds. And now we probably never will. Reynolds is apparently still hard at work trying to get Jackman to come back to the character just once more, presumably for something beefier than a cameo.
Despite whatever initial coyness he had before, Jackman remains adamant about someone else taking on the role of Wolverine. So while it is technically possible that a Wolverine/Deadpool movie may happen, it won’t be a Jackman/Reynolds movie. And that makes Logan that much more sad.
10 THE WEIRDLY WELL-EDITED SECRET VIDEOS
The plot of Logan hinges entirely on the heir apparent of the Weapon X program, Transigen, setting up shop in Mexico and cloning mutants in order to make them weapons for the U.S. government. A kind-hearted nurse realizes the depths her employer has sunk to and begins to collect evidence of the horrors taking place there.
This footage does a lot to move our plot forward, but it is also to be assumed that Pierce and his employer, Dr. Zander Rice, just let this nurse hold a smart phone in plain view in order to record their weaponized children experiments. Even with shaky angles and digital glitches, the whole tape looks like it would have been the most open secret around the Transigen water cooler.
9 LOGAN AND X-24 HAVE DIFFERENT ADAMANTIUM
Transigen is looking to wipe its experiments on children, codenamed X-23, for a breakthrough in mutant weaponry: X-24. X-24 is basically a clone of Logan himself, but from his earlier days, when his facial hair was slightly more kempt and he communicated using solely growls and claws.
One has to consider that X-24 is not only a younger, fresher model, its adamantium skeleton and claws are right off the factory floor. Compare this to Logan’s set, which is so beyond its warranty that it’s poisoning him, healing factor or no. Yet their claws seem to be evenly matched and X-24’s healing factor seems to be even less effective, requiring some assistance from the good Dr. Rice. They just don’t make them like they used to.
8 COME BACK, SHANE
There is a rather sweet scene with Laura, Wolverine’s young clone daughter-figure, and Professor Xavier where they watch the film Shane in a hotel room. He tells her how the film is almost a hundred years old and that he first saw it when he was her age. This is how anachronism rears its ugly head.
Shane was released into theaters in 1953, which makes it closer to 76 years old by the setting of Logan. This is perhaps a negligible detail, but Professor X is established as a nonagenarian in this film. That means he was at least born in 1939, which would then make him at least 14 years old by the time Shane was released in theaters. Again, is this negligible? Maybe. But the numbers don’t lie.
7 X-24 LOVES HIS CLONE DADDY
Transigen’s director Dr. Rice is very satisfied with his full-grown angry man clone of the original Weapon X to replace the children. Ostensibly, the kids are too willful, too rebellious, and thus unfit to continue living. Yet X-24 seems like a real handful himself, being kept in a cage until he is needed, and even directly disobeying Rice once he offs a bunch of rednecks.
But most odd is when Rice claims that rage cannot be nurtured, but can be designed. Huh? “Hey, you know how we keep literally tearing these infants out of peasant girls and then subjecting them to vicious surgeries and psychological damage? At the end of the day, they don’t seem that rageful.”
6 ELIMINATING THE X-GENE
A fact often called back to in this film is that mutants have all but disappeared from this world. As Dr. Rice says, it’s not about eliminating mutants so much as controlling them. And as far as evil motivations go, this is entirely plausible. But then Rice reveals that Transigen had managed to slip into the world’s food supply enough that it has effectively eliminated the X-gene.
Transigen must be a massive corporation, but they’re going to be able to essentially poison the world's food supply? It’s not as though the world shops at the same Whole Foods. Also, Transigen couldn’t keep its X-23 program hidden from one nurse with a cameraphone, so how is it going to pull something like tainting the world’s food supply off?
5 DR. ZANDER RICE
Pierce, as mentioned, is pure evil. He’s cold and he’s ruthless, and he doesn’t seem to have been made into that. It’s just who he is, and that is frankly terrifying. Dr. Rice, though, is like many other X-Men villains—an intelligent, powerful man who believes mutantkind is a severe threat to humanity. But then he reveals that he is the son of one of the men at Weapon X, a man Wolverine ended many years previous.
Now that is what you call a pat explanation for the machinations of an evil genius. The morality of superhero movies tends to be very black-and-white. So for Logan, which examines the less black-and-white areas, to indulge in this simple characterization... well, we just have to willingly ignore it.
4 NO FINAL SCENE FOR THE X-MEN
As we just discussed, Logan is a superhero film about the fuzzier aspects of the white hat/black hat mentality. There is not a single colorful costume to be found in this entire film, not even in flashback. It is heavily implied that the X-Men actually met their demise at the hands of their beloved Professor X, who has lost control of his incredible telepathy.
As from poor old Charlie, the facts of this are obscured from us. This may not be a traditional superhero movie, but that doesn’t keep its viewers from craving a blaze-of-glory end for the strangest superheroes of all. This may not have been the right artistic choice for Logan, but a visual callback to the cover of Uncanny X-Men #136 would have been undeniably great.
3 SABRETOOTH, WE HARDLY KNEW YE
We’re not here to argue about the merits of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but we can all agree that Liev Schreiber nailed it in his depiction of Sabretooth. He was the perfect mix of power and sadism and showcased the actor in a light which has served him very well since.
Early on, there was talk of Schreiber reprising the role for Logan, and oh, how glorious that could have been. Professor X aside, Wolverine’s most complex father figure has always been Sabretooth, in the comics as in the film. And yet, he didn't even get a cameo! The plan to bring Schreiber into the fold fell through long before the film was released, but it’s difficult to not watch the film today and still wonder what could have been.
2 THOSE WEREN'T X-MEN COMICS
Laura is determined to have Logan escort her to a place called Eden, the coordinates for which she got from the pages of The Uncanny X-Men. Logan dismisses the comics as fabricated romanticized versions of what actually happened, even though Eden turns out to be a real place.
This is a very nice nod to differences between the films and the comics, but you know what would have driven that home? If the producers had used the actual covers to key books like Uncanny X-Men #117 or #132. The studio likely couldn’t get the rights, but nothing will pull a comic book fan out of a story quicker than what is clearly a fake comic. Just ask the people who paid to see Unbreakable in the theater.
1 WHITHER MR. SINISTER?
At the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, after the credits had rolled, audiences were shown some well-dressed yet shadowy men removing specimens from the site of Weapon X; these men were revealed to work for Essex Corporation, assumed to be owned and run by Mr. Sinister himself, Nathaniel Essex.
Even a rudimentary nod to the character in Logan would have been better than nothing; if they had kept Dr. Rice exactly as he was in the film and just called him Dr. Essex, that would have been something. There seems to be no obvious reason for this change; it’s like it just never came up. It takes an extraordinary effort to just ignore the post-credits scene from Apocalypse and, say, go and re-read Uncanny X-Men #239.