Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, we’ve welcomed the next generation of mutants to discuss Logan, which premiered in the United States on Friday, March 3, 2017.
Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not necessarily a review. After all, while we are all individuals, even mutual love of something (or hate) can come from different places: you may find everything from critique to fangirling to maybe even hate-watching.
Now, join Shara, Sherry, Betsy, and J.L. Gribble as they talk about Logan! [Note: Everything discussed below is hinted at in the trailers. Read on in safety unless you’re under a total media blackout before seeing the film.]
Shara: Y’all may remember back in November, I was squealing in excitement over the first official trailer for Logan, and praying the movie was just as awesome as the trailer was. And I’m here to tell you that the movie absolutely did not disappoint: that was the best damn X-Men movie I’ve seen in…ever. I say this as a die-hard fan of the first two Bryan Singer films, and a grudging fan of what’s been happening in the film-verse since First Class. What Logan does, jumping ahead to 2029 in a world where mutants just aren’t born anymore, where they just don’t really exist any more save for a handful, it’s intimate. It’s vulnerable. It’s rough. It doesn’t shy away from violence nor does it shy away from pain. I absolutely loved the close-up focus of Logan and Charles, what their relationship has become and how painfully honest it is.
And that’s what this movie is: painfully honest. It’s a wonderful examination of character. Logan, as the Wolverine, is all too often treated as an action hero, but what does that cost him? Here we see the cost, and we see how that cycle of violence is set to repeat when he gets roped into saving a young girl who has frighteningly similar powers to his.
The trailers make Laura seem like a feral child, when in reality she just needs a little bit of polish. Her backstory is naturally heart-breaking, but while the trailers make it seem like she’s a girl who needs to be saved (and she does…to an extent), she’s not without her own motivation, her own initiative, and her own ability to kick ass. Even if she doesn’t save the day on her own (and trust me, she has her moments), she certainly is able to lend a hand to make it easier for Logan to take down the bad guys.
The ending was amazing. The whole movie was amazing, but the ending had me tearing up. They planted a few seeds for sequels, and it’s clear a torch is being passed (and what a torch that is, and what a worthy contender) from one hero to another. Even if the cinematic story of the X-Men truly ends here (that’s not to say there won’t be more movies, they’d just have to take place BEFORE this one), it’s a fitting end to a franchise. Way to make it right, 20th Century Fox, and thanks for not letting me down.
Sherry: I think it is going to take me some time to process Logan. I haven’t watched all the X-Men movies, but I love Hugh Jackman and I love Wolverine. When I saw the trailer I knew I had to see it. It was strange, and a little uncomfortable, for me to see Logan as less than what he’s been. I knew going into the movie that he was older, that he’d lost some of his regenerating power, that he’s been poisoned. But knowing it and seeing it are two very different things. Why do I say uncomfortable when I should probably say sad? Because I don’t want to feel sad or sorry or protective of Wolverine, and because I felt that way, it was uncomfortable. I’m not used to it. Interestingly enough, I didn’t feel that way about Professor X. The X-Men series has always been a debate about whether there should or shouldn’t be mutants, and what purpose they serve in this world, and Logan is no different. This time it involves creating mutant children who will be the perfect soldiers. It seems to me that the creation of the perfect soldier is an inevitability in any story with “enhanced” beings — we saw it in Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and that’s because most countries depend on the military for defense. It is a natural progression, not a contrived one. Creating the perfect soldier out of children, though, while I’m reminded of Ender’s Game, isn’t that far from the stories of child soldiers. They may not be bred to be soldiers, but they are taken at a young enough age, beaten, raped, and forced to kill their families so that there is so much shame and pain that they cannot return home, making them willing to kill for their new overlords. And that is what makes Logan different. These children have been forced to do some terrible things. How will they live with themselves once they are free? Are they destined to stay in the mold they were created in? Or will they break free?
So what does this mean? It means I loved the movie. I loved the action. I loved Laura. Logan was true to his character to the very end, when in someone else’s hands it could have gone a much more saccharine way. I am very curious to see where they are going to take this franchise next.
Betsy: Logan was not what I expected. To be fair, I haven’t paid quite enough attention to the last few X-Men/Wolverine films, and I know I’ve missed at least one entirely. This led to a quick Google search while in the theater before the previews came on about “What I need to know to watch Logan.” Basically, what I needed to know I could have gathered in the first few minutes of the film, which speaks well for it to start, but I felt better for the refresher on where things stand in the X-Men franchise. There were two major “reveals” in terms of character identity, and I have to say that I was flat out not expecting the second one, which was terrifically well done. And, as sad as it is on one hand to say goodbye to particular actors playing particular parts in the movies, one can hardly fault either of them for being ready to say goodbye. I was also surprised at the level of gore shown on camera, and had to remind myself that the Wolverine movies have always felt markedly darker than the “proper” X-Men installments. But more than just bloody violence, I think I was more affected by the fact that said violence was perpetrated in large part, voluntarily, enthusiastically, by a young girl. Granted, she had been trained in combat, and largely mistreated through her whole childhood, and was acting in self-defense against what most would consider overwhelming numbers of adult soldiers coming after her, but still — it felt quite different to me than even the First Class kids using their powers to defend themselves. Maybe I’m the only one?
J.L.: I didn’t realize until sitting in the theater last Friday night, right after the action-packed opening, that I’d been waiting 17 years for this movie to be made. As Logan sliced and diced his way through low-class thieves, the necessity of the film’s R rating quickly became apparent. I settled in my seat, satisfied and content, because this was truly Wolverine to me, not the watered-down version appropriate for typical PG-13 comic book movies.
The sheer amount of violence in this movie might not appeal to some viewers, especially since it is not balanced with many of the snarky, comedic moments that lifted tension in Deadpool. Instead, the tension is broken by quiet moments between Logan and Charles Xavier, two old men aging in their own tragic ways and both paying the price for the superpowers that functionally made them gods in a life long ago. Laura’s introduction as a wrinkle in the future Logan had carefully planned out brings the men closer together, even as they both seem to know it will lead to their downfall.
However, despite the grumbling, Logan makes it very obvious through his actions over the course of the film that he never stopped caring for any young mutants thrust in his care. He never stopped being a hero.
It’s not 100% clear where in the X-Men timeline that this film exists. We learn from a radio announcer early on that the year is 2029, and that it is a drastically different future than what we might have expected from the apparent trajectory of other X-Men (and Marvel Cinematic Universe) films. One of my favorite aspects of this movie are how near-future technology is woven in, whether as set-dressing or actual plot points and sources of conflict.
Even if it doesn’t slot nicely into any timeline, especially since much of the story concept is lifted from an X-Men comics story line that exists in another part of the multiverse, the film is a beautiful and fitting send-off for both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. Both men are phenomenal actors, and I’m glad that the Wolverine torch has been passed. Because neither of these actors can ever be replaced.