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The X-Men Films & TV Shows Explore Mental Illness Masterfully

Logan: Alcoholism

logan james mangold black and white

Logan's exploration of mental illness isn't as explicit as it is on the other two X-Men-based properties examined in this article. It's a much more subtle example, and in a lot of ways has to be interpreted on a metaphorical level.

First, let's discuss the surface-level exploration of mental health. It's pretty clear that Hugh Jackman's titular Wolverine suffers from alcoholism, to a much more serious extent than he did in previous X-Men films. Driving drunk, spending every moment he can (that he's not getting in fights or providing meds for his buddy Charles), Logan is attached to the bottle, unable to accept the reality with which he's living. Alcoholism is a mental illness, and Logan artfully gives us a window into the condition.

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On a deeper level though, the film can be interpreted as the all-encompassing struggle of an addict. Logan's arc in the film is coming to terms with unforgivable mistakes. These can be mistakes, as is the case for Charles' "Westchester Incident," that we might not remember. It's about understanding how to cope with knowing you've hurt someone because of your condition, and learning to live with that, without destroying yourself. It's a profound message of self-acceptance; not forgetting the past or your condition, but learning from it, and becoming a better person on the other side.

Logan is a film about the distinction between man and animal -- the notion that humans have a consciousness wherein we need to own up to our actions, and learn from them, rather than letting them overcome who we are, or define us. By the end of the film, with the help of Laura, Logan rediscovers what he is at his core: Human. He's a hero, though -- willing to recognize his mistakes, but able to continue to do the right thing.

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Available now on Blu-ray and DVD, Logan stars Hugh Jackman as Logan, Patrick Stewart as Charles, Dafne Keen as Laura, Boyd Holbrook as Pierce and Stephen Merchant as Caliban.

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