Comic book adaptations are the Western of the 21st century. Throughout the 50-60s there was an influx of Western movies, a new one releasing every few months, if that. The crawl of comic book movies and progression to phenomena has been a long time coming. You can attribute their mainstream success thanks to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and the connectedness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This success has launched a stronger emphasis for DC to keep up with Marvel and for Fox to increase production on the X-men movies. 2016 saw six superhero movies from these three behemoths and 2017 will grace us with another six. Through these years we’ve only see a few game-changers, such as, The Dark Knight. Well it’s time to add another and it goes by the name of Logan.
Here’s a snippet of my unpublished review:
“Praise should be lauded to exquisite performances from both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart as we are given a proper wolverine movie and send off. Logan functions more as a Western than a comic adaptation. We get some lovely shot and more important a plot that isn’t geared toward saving the world, but an intimate and personal endeavor that thrives because of it’s smaller scale. Action is relentless and breakneck when the movie calls for it, but nothing is senseless. Writer/Director, James Mangold, does a fine job of balancing lighthearted moments and those with high tension. I would be perfectly happy never seeing another X-men movie again after watching Logan. It does have narrative issues and some oddball moments, but the finished product is something so special and unique that will stand as a high point in comic adaptations.”
Suffice to say, I really enjoyed Logan. It’s the type of film that graces us once in a great while. but Logan means more than just the ending of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. It’s a change in the status quo on how comic movies are to be made and what you can utilize from them.
Logan thrives because it’s not your run-of-the-mill comic book story. The fate of the world isn’t at hand, there is no giant blue beam raining down to earth, the villain isn’t for the extinction of the human race. Logan is a personal story and the reflection of the drawn out journey of man, one that has had as many highs and lows as the review scores of the movies his character is featured in. To relate Logan to the crowd some might compare it to The Last of Us, I would contend that it shows shades of TLoU, but it has it’s own identity. Logan is about the journey of a few people and how we’ve journeyed with them. The personal focus makes us care more about our characters as they may be mutants, but they’re still human and deal with humanity.
A Western in Disguise
Writer/Director, James Mangold, is no stranger to Westerns. He directed the 3:10 to Yuma remake back in 2007 and even The Wolverine had some inklings of Western framework. The soundtrack by Marco Beltrami never gets drum or brass heavy, but focuses on piano, harmonica, and more looming sounds to perfectly accompany the movie. The setting near the opening is pretty blatant in itself, but this movie follows a part Hero’s-Journey architecture and then focuses on characters, relationships, and the end goal. Logan succeeds because it’s layered with genre and theme the way I haven’t seen in a comic book movie before. It’s not perfect, but it’s one of the best blueprints on how to make a movie stand out from the heard.
Similar to the personal story connection, we see far too often DC and Marvel trying to build to something bigger. Fox is plenty guilty of it too, so it’s refreshing to see something that doesn’t boast an extra credits sequence or have further story to tell, because you’re satisfied when you leave the theater. For the fans, it’s been an emotional roller-coaster of highs and lows resulting in wonderful payoff, for general movie-goers, it’s something great to see regardless of pre-existing context. There’s a wonderful story for all and some tips of the hat to the X-men heritage.
Some Fresh, Executed Brilliantly
R-rated superhero movie aren’t a new concept. Deadpool and Watchmen are notable examples, Deadpool having a distinct comedy style and Watchmen earnestly making for good adult content. Logan goes a step above and gives meaning to the violence behind it. It’s the best representation of Wolverine on-screen and furthermore there’s purpose to the film other than saving the world. It breaks against the norms of nearly all superhero movies and focuses on being a film, western, and something different. In the ensuing endeavors, it accomplishes everything and more. There’s enjoyment to be had in big budget movies, the spearheads of each company. But Logan is more meaningful than nearly all of them, it’s not a film you’ve ever seen before and even after some uncertainty, I need to see it again. A captivating jaunt for Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart and the ideal film to go out on; on top.