The ride is finally over, and what a final trip it was! Many fans were tentative going into James Mangold’s “Logan” because of how Fox not only kept being inconsistent with the character’s continuity and origins, but because of how diluted they had previously made the character for their PG-13 audiences. However, spurred on by the success of “Deadpool,” the studio decided to cut loose with an R-rating and give Hugh Jackman a proper sendoff in his final performance as the adamantium-clawed hero.
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What ensued was a brilliantly dramatic slow-burn of a finale that had an emotional heft to it story-wise (with the introduction of the X-23 clone) and high-octane action scenes like never before, which felt wondrously ripped directly from a “Wolverine” comic. On that note, CBR decided to look at 15 reasons why Jackman’s mutant-hero swansong kicked major ass and at long last, gave us the Wolverine we clamored for and deserved!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for “Logan!”
15. THE SCORE
Marco Beltrami’s score helped create the profound atmosphere of the film, enhancing Mangold’s storytelling to perfection. It wasn’t just about riveting musical swells during the fight sequences, but also about the quiet poignant moments where Logan got personal, whether it be with Caliban, Xavier or X-23. Beltrami helped stack the movie as a neo-Western, but still kept the soundtrack contemporary and fresh.
In December 2016, he surprisingly replaced Cliff Martinez, who was announced as composer last July, and quickly showed why he was hired. He repeated what he did in movies like “3:10 to Yuma” (2007) and “The Wolverine” (2013), repaying Mangold’s faith by constructing the swansong of Logan and his descent into the grave. Beltrami matched the dustbowl setting of the movie to a tee, and shifted things smartly from sun-drenched wasteland to folks on the lam in the city, through a vast array of strings, piano keys and guitars. If anything, he once again proved how the score in a comic book movie adds depth as its own character, and very much brings personality to the cinematic medium.
It took us 17 years to finally get a rabid Wolverine. Here, he was a cigar-pulling, scotch-fueled, claw-popping monster that definitely wasn’t anything resembling the Wolverine-lite from Bryan Singer. The R-rating allowed Mangold to fully explore his violent rage, but also let Jackman fully personify and embody the character that’s always been brooding and ready to kill in the comics for what’s right.
The profanity, not only with Logan, but with Xavier, showed how frustrated they were in this post-apocalyptic world, and helped paint the overall dystopian tone. Seeing these former heroes beaten, worn and battle hardened to this point really rammed it home how lost the world was in terms of mutants. Apart from this, the gore and violence (especially with X-23) was relentless, but didn’t feel gratuitous or over the top. The jaw-dropping stabs and kills, decapitations and grimy open wounds thoroughly immersed you in this newfound war Logan was entrenched in. All this blood aside (and trust us, from the first minute it’s unadulterated slicing and dicing), the R-rating also opened up Mangold to tackle adult themes such as suicide, which a defeated Logan contemplated in a broken world.
13. LOGAN & X-23’S RELATIONSHIP
If you’re familiar with X-23 in comics, it’s tough to call Logan a deadbeat dad because he didn’t walk out on her. He didn’t even know such a clone existed and this movie’s no different. He’s reluctant to take her on in the film, because Xavier’s willing it and Logan clearly wants no part as they’re both sick and in their last days. It also shows Logan is confused and scared with the responsibility, shirking it to build the character as pessimistic and flawed.
However, he transitioned from selfish guardian to a true father figure by the movie’s end because he started to connect with her, relate and eventually love her due to his own past: namely, how he never had a family and was weaponized himself. The arc came full circle for X-23, a.k.a. Laura, as well, because outside of their epic fight scenes teaming up, she too grew attached and acknowledged he was indeed, her father. Their exchanges, especially when she broke her silence, were smartly littered with humor too, providing a cute banter to offset their blood-spilling, limb-cutting rampages. Their dynamic embodied their comics relationship perfectly, especially if you’re a modern “X-Force” fan.
12. THE COWBOY DYNAMIC
“Logan” was definitely a neo-Western. What stood out most was the “Shane” influence, which Mangold is clearly a fan of. If you’ve ever read the 1949 novel or watched the 1953 film, you’d see the parallels to both characters here. Shane was a cowboy, a stranger on the homestead, who arrived and was given an unwanted responsibility to save the town. The same happened to Logan, where X-23’s conundrum of being hunted fell into his lap out the blue.
Logan’s interpreted like the reclusive gunslinger here, which factored in big time into how X-23 viewed him. This is all summed up by the scene when they’re holed up in a hotel and she’s clearly infatuated with “Shane” on the television due to Xavier being a fanboy of it. Mangold’s Western’s influence isn’t subtle at all because we even had the tease of her urging Logan to dress up as a cowboy moments before. It was another clever moment of levity, bookended with a eulogy taken from “Shane,” which left true believers of Wolverine in tears at the film’s end, especially as Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” closed curtains.
11. LIMITED EASTER EGGS
“Logan” wanted to be a self-contained story, disconnected from Fox’s general “X-Men” continuity so that it could do a proper character study and develop the hero on a cerebral and visceral level like never before. Having limited Easter eggs was a great decision because it helped make the film standalone and allowed Mangold to craft his own story. Sure, Caliban was used but it didn’t seem connected to his “X-Men: Apocalypse” persona. Even Xavier felt like he was brand new.
The most we got was a Logan dog-tag here or a cigar grab there, reminding us of the past. There was no forced move to tie him back to old films, like a Jean Grey flashback or any of that. The biggest Easter egg was a Joe Quesada comic depicting the X-Men trying to find a safe haven called Eden, which drove X-23’s ambition in the movie. Most importantly, it carved out a very important meta message which Logan harped on. He made it clear life wasn’t like the comics, and them being on the run was real and high-stakes… not a scripted fun-in-the-sun mission, as if to shoot a middle-claw to the old films and their bogged-down continuity.
Fans were treated to the other test subjects in the X-23 program, but these were in quick flashbacks. It was vague as to the identity of the other mutants, so we didn’t read much into it. That is, until Logan found a photo of her friends from the experimental facility, revealing their names on the back. If you’re a fan of “X-Factor,” you probably screamed when you saw one was Rictor.
He’s one of that team’s prominent members, investigating dangers and helping protect the mutant species, in modern comics. This movie molded him as one of X-23’s close teenage friends, who was looking after the runaway mutants that wanted to go to Eden for safe haven, across the Canadian border. Rictor came off like a father figure, matured because of circumstances, and robbed of his teenage years. This was emphasized when we saw him offer Logan money for keeping X-23 safe, who really became Laura in their presence. Rictor also offered Logan a serum to temporarily boost his powers, knowing they’d need his help, and he completed his arc in the finale by showing what his seismic-controlling and earthquake-like powers could really do.
9. WEAPON X CONTINUATION
Zander Rice was one the chief scientists involved in creating and turning X-23 into a killing machine. In “Logan,” he follows a similar path, although many expected Mister Sinister. Rice, in the books and film, lost his father when Wolverine rampaged his way out the Weapon X program and escaped. Here, we see him continuing that Weapon X vision, not just with the X-23 program that yielded Laura and the runaways, but also in a bid to engineer a Wolverine clone.
Fox has always shown an affinity to tie Wolverine, whether past or present, to the Weapon X program, even once trying to link Deadpool in via “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.” However, here, it’s not just a plot tool but an organic continuation of Logan’s story. For once it doesn’t feel phoned in, and seeing Rice trying new programs to genetically engineer his own mutants felt very loyal to what Chris Yost and Craig Kyle wrote when they introduced Laura. Rice’s program ended up removing the “no more mutants” tag of the film at the end, which could bode well for “New Mutants,” “X-Factor,” or “X-Force” moving forward.
8. BERSERKER WOLVERINE
We got a glimpse of Wolverine’s berserker rage in “X-Men: Age Of Apocalypse” when he escaped the Weapon X program into the cold Alaskan wilderness. Smart editing by Singer, though, ensured it wasn’t as gory. Mangold, on the other hand, had no such limitation and in the movie’s climax. Energized by Rictor’s serum, an aging Wolverine got a booster shot that bolstered his healing factor, as well as his lust for blood, giving us the berserker yet again.
When he rushed in to help X-23 and her friends reach Eden, it was bad news for Rice and the Reavers, led by Donald Pierce. Throughout the film we saw tinges of this unhinged persona, as Logan had nothing to lose in the world again. Whether it was hooligans harassing him in plying his chauffeur trade, or bounty hunters trying to give him a hard time, he cut loose with no qualms. This particular scene, though, was quite a finale, as he also ended up using X-23 in a team-up to shred the opposition. You didn’t just see his rage, but you felt it as well in his anguished screams, giving us the feral killer we hoped for.
X-24 was Rice’s finally-perfected clone of Logan, and was basically his pitbull to command. X-24 was first triggered to kill a family that took Logan’s posse in on the run, and also to bring in X-23. In the process, he killed Xavier, and Logan struggled to put him down thereafter. Our hero required help, only for X-24 to regenerate thanks to Rice’s serum, and pop back up in the final act to once more deal with the adamantium misfits.
He felt like a perfect mix of Logan and the villainous Sabretooth, but he was younger, faster, stronger and much more inclined to kill. While X-23 gave the clone a run for his money, Logan, especially after Rictor’s serum wore off, struggled to cope and ended up paying the ultimate price when X-24 impaled him on a tree. X-23 ended up killing the clone with the adamantium bullet Logan kept for his suicide, but it was too little, too late, as Logan succumbed to his wounds. X-24 was a great villain, and a dark reflection of Logan, making up for us not getting closure with Sabretooth, or the likes of Cyber, Daken and Omega Red.
6. NO MORE MUTANTS
Many touted this movie as “Old Man Logan,” but apart from the grizzled depiction of our hero, it didn’t bear much semblance to Mark Millar’s book, or subsequent subversions. In that book, Logan was tricked by Mysterio into killing the X-Men and a few fans expected this to factor in from the time they heard Mangold’s world had few mutants remaining. It turns out that Xavier was the reason why, with a psychic seizure killing his X-Men (and possibly many other) years before a la Marvel’s Scarlet Witch.
Rice hinted that he lured in the rest to scientifically harvest their powers, thus cementing the eradication of the species. That still couldn’t shake us from Xavier’s revelation, which Logan barely survived due to his healing factor. Mangold played up Logan’s guilt to distract the audience, but when all was revealed, it made our hero even more admirable as it showed how he wanted to shield Xavier from being tormented by the past, even drugging up his former mentor to forget the events. This twist illustrated how powerful and dangerous Xavier could be, and was even more sentimental as it came just before the apologetic Professor was killed by X-24.
5. THE CAST
Everyone in “Logan” delivered, plain and simple. Jackman rode off into the sunset with the truest depiction of the character to date, and you could tell he enjoyed every second of it, from the F-bombs to finally getting to stab folks through the head. His angst, self-deprecation and languished disposition have even been deemed Oscar-worthy already. Patrick Stewart was a brilliant shell of himself as the potty-mouthed Professor Xavier, flipping the character on its head as someone who was now pained and begging your sympathy.
The show-stealer though was Dafne Keen. She was sublime as her stares, grunts and facial expressions reeked of a Laura who was constantly under a trigger scent (what drove her to kill in the comics). Mangold’s decision to utilize a small cast was wise as it allowed him time to refine all characters, their individual development, and interactions with each other. Everyone was absolutely dynamic, even the villains (Rice played by Richard Grant, Pierce played by Boyd Holbrook) who weren’t that deep or intricate. They didn’t need to be because this was all about the heroes, either limping on in sickness towards death, or rushing to the light of freedom.
4. THE HUMAN THEME
If anything, this was arguably the first movie about mutants that really played up the theme of humanity. “Logan” focused on a daughter seeking a father as well as place to call home, a father on the run and looking at a legacy he didn’t want, a fallen mentor seeking redemption and trying to remember a dark past that was blocked out, and of course, villains trafficking and harvesting younglings. Now, despite the presence of powered individuals, all these stories played out in the most human and connecting fashions.
“Logan” had mutants throwing down and going at it to the death, but it never felt grand or out of this world like other X-films. It had an emotive sense to it because it still felt grounded and real. Maybe it was the location, the blades, the guns, and the overall bounty hunt at hand, but it was all summed up in the dinner scene that showed Logan was Xavier’s rebellious son, and now, X-23 mirrored that to him. We’ve never gotten a sense of family, only a sense of team, in past movies. Here, it was all about home not being a place, but the people you roll with.
3. FIGHT SCENES
How long did we wait to see Logan cut limbs off? Stab baddies in the head? Slice and dice like deli meat? Within the first minute, we got all this. Throughout the film, we see him evolve more and more, eventually into his berserker rage persona, but it wasn’t even Logan that stole the action sequences. It was X-23! Her performances took the cake, and usurped Hit-Girl (“Kick Ass”) as the baddest teenage killer on-screen.
The choreography was on point with her and her fluid style felt like a Mexican luchador. She was all about leaping, acrobatics, swift moves and a ton of other gymnast-like moves incorporated into her fighting style. It was super dynamic and in stark contrast to Logan’s brawler style. When they combined, the screen lit up even more. The balance of her quick attacks with Logan’s more instinctual cut-and-runs had fans gushing in the cinema, because Mangold truly lived up to his word and brought the brutality with them. If anything, these fight scenes whet the appetite for “X-Force.”
2. PERFECT “WHAT IF…?” STORY
“Logan” took influence from quite a few books but it really did feel like an awesome standalone story in itself. Some writers such as Chris Claremont and Marjorie Liu were thanked in the credits but it also followed bits of the character from Mark Millar, Larry Hama and especially, Charles Soule. It was so far apart from continuity that Jackman was finally allowed to give us the definitive Wolverine. This makes it so hard to watch him or even X-23 ever go back to a PG-13 rating.
After all, we were treated to an amazing amalgamation of X-23’s origin story with the “Old Man Logan” persona, all meshed in with the “Death of Wolverine” arc which took Wolverine off Marvel’s table and pushed Laura as the new holder of the clawed mantle. So, how does Fox top these arcs, which are arguably the characters’ best? They’ll have to work very hard to up this story because it was something original, transcendent, moving and haunting, which isn’t easy to recapture.
1. LOGAN & XAVIER RELATIONSHIP
Logan and Xavier had a lot of odd and uncomfortable exchanges, including some obscene and profane ones, which highlighted how far from grace they fell. Logan was that failure, disappointing, college drop-out son; while Xavier was no longer a teacher but an old, senile man who bickered with his boy. These things, however, made their dynamic so enjoyable. It was a different spin but one that played up how fractured things were in this new era.
Logan, shielding Xavier from his past genocide of mutants, was so compassionate and giving that it brought the biggest geek to tears. He labored and went the full distance because of how Xavier believed and loved him in the past. Xavier, on the other hand, despite being a tad crazy, never lost his passion for helping others, which showed with X-23 and his insistence on helping her. They were a strong trifecta on screen, but years of knowing what Logan and Xavier went through, in comics and film, came to a head here in the most heart-wrenching father-and-son manner. Their fates at the end fit the story perfectly, and allowed the heroes to ride off into the sunset, heads and claws held high.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments what you loved about “Logan!”
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