Piotrek: Times are good for comic book fans. Old stuff is easily available, new things are often good, and movies/tv… our genre is probably the strongest one today, with so much being done, everyone can find something nice. Solid stories, visual experiments (Dr Strange, Legion!), profane (Deadpool) and civil (Guardians) comedies… and now Logan.
Ola: The newest instalment in XXth Century Fox X-Men franchise is a story loosely based on the premise of Old Man Logan, one of the most famous graphic novels about Wolverine. It features a post-apocalyptic near future, where United States are in turmoil, symbolized by the absence of the Statue of Liberty, regular institutions such as police or National Guard or medical help no longer work, and the world once again becomes an arena of fight between the weak and the strong. The mutant gene has been suppressed; superheroes are no longer around; and those who stayed behind are not what they used to be.
Piotrek: It is a dark one. Everything that could go wrong for mutants – did. In a tragic way, that heavily influences old and very ill Professor X, and pushes Wolverine even further into self-destructive behaviour he was always prone to.
Ola: No wonder that the main inspiration for Logan is western – so much so that at times the movie completely blurs the distinctions between the genres, openly citing the ultimate classic Shane. Logan is a well-thought tribute to this venerable tradition, once more reinforcing the basic tenets of one’s moral conduct in the grey area of wilderness. And indeed, Logan’s action takes place far from both coasts, in the sparsely inhabited, less civilized middle states, from the Mexican-American border to the US-Canadian one. Wild, no-man’s land where the only law is the law of the strongest.
Piotrek: Logan is the culmination of Hugh Jackman’s, and Patrick Stewart’s, 17-year adventure with the X-Men franchise. Wow, that is half my life 🙂 The journey was long and perilous, but ultimately a worthy one and both actors are the faces of the comic book movie genre’s ascendancy.
And Logan is both a great conclusion of their stories and a superb movie on its own. It transcends the genre supplementing what’s best in modern superhero movies with a deeper look at difficult topics mainstream cinema rarely touches with such subtlety.
Ola: Subtle is not what I would call that movie ;). It’s very violent, full of graphic details, and, in staying true to its western roots, at times heavy-handed. But it has its subtle moments, be it the nuanced, intentionally downplayed relationship between Logan and Xavier, or the role of Caliban.
Piotrek: The care for details is here and leads to, among other things, creation of a special X-Men comic pages just to serve as props. Comic books are in the movie as an in-universe joke, greatly annoying Logan who claims they embellish and distort the history of mutants, and they also are a commentary on lighter, more optimistic movies of the franchise.
Ola: Yes, the nostalgia-filled irony reserved for the old, worn pages of the comic books is something that warms a fan’s heart ;). And there are some light, funny moments as well – one of my favorite is the sight of Logan in reading glasses :). And the general conclusion most of humanity at some point agrees with – that getting old is a bitch.
Piotrek: After Deadpool it’s another (although very different) superb R-Rated superhero movie and I like this trend. Not having to pay attention to rather arbitrary PG-13 rules gives creators more freedom to just make good movies. It tends to give us better artistic value, packed with dirty language, a little bit more graphic violence and sometimes some nudity, which seems to scare the hypocrites much more than the killing and destruction.
Ola: Agreed; and that reference to Deadpool shows perfectly well how huge the R-rated market really is. The difference between Logan and Deadpool is so vast that the only two things those two movies have in common are their X-Men/Marvel protagonists AND R-rating ;). Logan is created along the lines of Greek tragedy; there is simply no happy end to be had. The world we’ve known from earlier movies is gone. The remaining mutants are in hiding, working in menial jobs, keeping to their small dreams of happiness possible only a long way from the US and people in general. Their past is full of dead bodies and regrets; the future is just a dream of not-belonging. And Logan, as any good western’s supposed to be, is essentially a movie about redemption.
Piotrek: What is not so great? Antagonists, as usual. Marvel heroes, in movies, mostly struggle with themselves 😉 Here, the first generation of mutants essentially lost, and their only victory was in saving the hope the young ones brought.
Ola: But is this really hope? I won’t spoil anything but there is a scene of communal vendetta that finds its graphic roots in stories like Children of the Corn. One that left me very much in doubt as to the moral compass of the next generation – abused, freakishly powerful children without the moral guidance of Professor X, or even Spidey. The question of who will they become is an open one – but transcending one’s past is a very difficult challenge.
Piotrek: Is this the best superhero movie ever? I’ve only seen it once so far, and it’s too early to judge, but it surely is one of the absolute best. And it should also entertain – and make think – people usually uninterested in this genre. I was moved and so sorry to see all the mutants I met go, most of them before the film even began. It’s rare in the age of easy happy endings, but I hoped with all my cold, sarcastic heart for a slightly less grim conclusion. While knowing it could not be so, by both the internal logic of the story and the rules of the genre.
Ola: It’s definitely one of the best superhero movies to date. A surprisingly ambitious, thought-provoking and superbly acted movie touching upon themes and topics not often mentioned in contemporary Hollywood productions, yet staying true to its comic book origins. I especially liked the references to the Weapon X program, and X-24 showing in detail what Wolverine could have had become if not for the X-Men and Professor X. And I couldn’t but admire both Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s roles.
Score: Piotrek 9,5/10