By Richmond B. Adams & Caitlin Coody
Spoiler warning: This conversation digs into some of Logan’s major plot reveals, including the ending.
This past weekend, the release of the first R-rated Wolverine movie “Logan” made its way to the big screens. It is definitely one of the bloodiest and saddest X-Men movies ever made.
Hugh Jackman claims this is his final outing playing the superhero on-screen, and given how the movie ends, it’s easy to see why. But there are so many strikingly bleak moments before that ending arrives. Normally, Superhero movies are exciting and full of unity and the “power-of-teamwork” but “Logan” plays more like a cynical tragedy, a drama about regret, personal failings and death. Director James Mangold and his co-writers focus on the characters’ emotions, particularly their anger at the way the world turned out, at each other and at themselves. In the process, the characters find so many tragic, telling moments.
Charles Xavier and Wolverine have been symbolized as saving the day as powerful, smart superheroes. Now, seeing them in “Logan”, it’s like they’ve been turned into prunes. Charles is so fragile, a victim to the same powers that used to make him one of the world’s most powerful mutants. Logan has weakened over time and, by his achingly slow movements, you can see the deterioration of his body.
One of the more chilling aspects of the movie is how Charles obsesses over Laura, the first new young mutant in the last 25 years. He keeps repeating her name over and over to Logan, who has no interest in her. In the limo, when Logan’s trying to escape the Reavers, Charles keeps saying “But Laura, don’t forget Laura, we can’t leave Laura,” he’s like a little kid who keeps yelling “Mom, Mom” while she’s on the phone because he doesn’t understand she’s ignoring him. Charles’ performance doesn’t feel like he sees Laura as a person but as an actual child they’re, purposely, abandoning. He’s not panicked, just puzzled. The movie is careful to not over-explain why, and I think that was a brilliant move, but it’s also a relatively subtle note in the middle of an intense scene.
Near the end of the movie, Charles brings the audience to the brink of tears with an awful confession. He is sweetly tucked into bed, reflecting on how he’s just had one of his best days in years, as he remembers what he did. He knows that he’s murdered the very students he was meant to protect and he knows he doesn’t deserve peace for it. As he confesses his troubled memory, you can see Logan’s figure standing in the doorway. However, when Charles rolls over, the sharp blades of, cloned, Logan’s claws sink into Charles’ chest.
Charles dying, believing Logan blamed him — and subsequently punished him — for an unspeakable accident leaves the viewers’ feeling empty; like they’re missing the last puzzle piece. There’s no hope for redemption, no moment of reconciliation over the anger Logan clearly has, because the cloned Logan has murdered Charles.
I wish I could say the movie turned around after that point, but I can’t. It only gets worse. The children, Laura and the other children from the research lab, had to use every ounce of their power to escape the Reavers. Logan did his best to fight but his body couldn’t handle the relentless strength of his clone. He ended up getting impaled and, inevitably, fought his last fight. But, that doesn’t mean he lost. Logan’s death came with the children’s freedom and the continuance of the mutant race.