As many times as we’ve summoned back fan-favourite actors to various superhero movie franchises, chiefly in the almost decade-old Marvel Cinematic Universe, few are more dedicated to reprising a role at this point than one of the longest-running repeat superhero star performers, Hugh Jackman. Jackman had a successful stage career before he would don the infamous Adamantium claws for the first time, but it wasn’t until he became the live-action film incarnation of mutant anti-hero, Wolverine that he achieved superstardom in the movie space too. That was seventeen years ago, all the way back in 2000, when the original X-Men movie from 20th Century Fox and a pre-MCU, pre-Disney Marvel first dazzled moviegoing audiences in theatres, becoming one of the key catalysts of the modern superhero movie boom.
Almost two decades have since passed, and now, Jackman is finally hanging up the claws, after one last wild ride as the seemingly immortal mutant badass that has come to define the X-Men franchise as a whole. It truly is the end of an era, and with this year’s latest X-Men spin-off movie release being Jackman’s last ride as Wolverine, 20th Century Fox is pulling out all of the stops to make this the ultimate Wolverine movie experience, despite ironically dropping the Wolverine and X-Men brands completely with Jackman’s climactic mutant drama offering.
A large part of this X-Men branding absence is due to the fact that Logan boasts a hard R-rating, just like fellow spin-off, Deadpool before it, and is finally no longer holding back the character of Wolverine. Some of Wolverine’s exploits in Marvel Comics lore have been infamously violent, savage and gruesome, and that gory intensity finally fully comes to life in Logan, which is loosely adapted from Marvel’s beloved Old Man Logan comic book series. While it can be a bit of a bizarre shift to have Wolverine and various other characters suddenly quite literally tearing apart their enemies, dropping liberal f-bombs and indulging in serious subject matter like drug addictions, Logan nonetheless manages to feel like a surprisingly natural climax to Jackman’s time as Wolverine, portraying an older, harder and more resigned Logan that has dispensed with any pleasantries or delusions of being something more than an animal.
To this end, Logan is certainly a lot darker and grimmer than any X-Men-related movies that have come out of Fox beforehand, and like Deadpool, it is in no way kid-friendly in the slightest, so leave any little ones at home! If you can swallow the extra bleak tone and frequently vicious, gory violence though, Logan, again like Deadpool, also happens to be one of the best X-Men movie spin-offs to date, to the point of even surpassing the bulk of the mainline X-Men movies too! We couldn’t have asked for a better send-off for Jackman’s Wolverine, as Logan is a dark, bloody masterpiece that finally gives fans of this character the uninhibited, brilliant Wolverine movie that they truly deserve!
Jackman has been portraying and perfecting his live-action Wolverine for many, many years now, and even as far as 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, he never went out of style as a headlining X-Men movie personality. With Logan though, Jackman is taking his Wolverine to a lot of places that his previous movies would never dare tread, even the two former Wolverine-dedicated spin-off movies. Jackman’s Wolverine has become aged, sick and clumsy during the events of Logan, and while he’s still mostly capable of raging out and kicking ass, he’s also more vulnerable than he’s ever been, between injuries that suddenly won’t heal, and senses that are suddenly much less reliable.
Clearly, aging and death is a huge theme throughout Logan, a movie that takes place at a far-off point of the current X-Men movie timeline, in 2029 (as a reminder, the two previous Wolverine movies have been almost entirely removed from the current series’ timeline of events, due to the time-resetting conclusion of X-Men: Days of Future Past), to the point where mutants have largely disappeared from existence. This change in humanity’s evolution has relegated the former exploits of the X-Men to comic books, cheekily referencing the contrast between the glorified history of the X-Men in the printed panels, with the harsh reality of the true fate of mutants, even with their future supposedly ‘saved’ by the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past. In this movie’s incarnation of the real world, there are no longer any X-Men, no X-Mansion, and not even a Mutant Brotherhood, with arch-nemesis, Magneto seemingly dying off-screen at some point before this movie’s events.
All that remains of the former era of X-Men is a geriatric, 90-year-old Professor Charles Xavier, now a raving, mentally degrading liability that has found himself in Wolverine’s begrudging care, along with an unrecognizable Stephen Merchant in the role of mutant tracker, Caliban. Kept lucid and stable by drugs, Xavier’s degrading mind has resulted in bursts of dangerous, destructive mental energy surges that threaten to kill anyone nearby, forcing Wolverine to stash the former Professor X in a hidden location near Mexico.
Patrick Stewart also reprises his frequent role as the older Charles Xavier in Logan, a role that he, like Jackman, has come back to several times since 2000’s original X-Men movie (although in his case, he shares the role with James McAvoy, as a younger incarnation of Xavier from the trilogy of prequel movies), and also like Jackman, a role that Stewart is allegedly playing for the last time here. No longer dignified and inspiring, Stewart’s Xavier has become duddering, oblivious and almost as foul-mouthed as Jackman’s aged Wolverine, being the movie’s harshest and bleakest reminder of what age does to just about all of us by a certain point, even men as great as Xavier.
Jackman and Stewart, appropriately, carry the weight of their long X-Men history throughout this movie, and knowing that this is their last hurrah, they truly push these characters as far as they can conceivably go. At the same time however, their on-screen bond has never felt stronger and more dedicated, making them an Odd Couple-esque pairing that works as well for comedy as it does for drama. Despite being a very dark movie, Logan doesn’t ever feel totally hopeless or depressing, smartly injecting light-hearted and funny scenes with Wolverine and Xavier whenever it’s necessary, which provides a strong emotional cocktail for longtime X-Men fans in particular.
Another consistent shot of hope, humour and thrills is also effectively provided by the third part of the movie’s lead ensemble, Laura Kinney, played by young actress, Dafne Keen, making her movie debut in Logan. The eleven-year-old Laura is very much like Wolverine, to the point of having her own claws and healing powers, and this should come as no surprise to avid fans of Marvel and X-Men, considering that Kinney is X-23 (this superhero mantle is referenced in Logan, but she’s never actually referred to as ‘X-23’ at any point), a female clone of Wolverine in the Marvel Comics Universe. There are some slight deviations with Laura’s character backstory in contrast to her Marvel Comics portrayal in Logan, obviously, namely her de-aging and revised Mexican heritage, but Keen nonetheless feels perfectly true to this personality, being just as monstrous, unpredictable and assertive as Wolverine ever was. Even without speaking, Keen’s steely stare and brilliant facial expressions are always perfectly on-point, selling even the most aggressive naysayer on the fact that an eleven-year-old girl can truly be a visceral badass!
With no Magneto, no Colonel Stryker, no Hellfire Club and no Apocalypse left to battle by the events of Logan, the trio of leads instead find themselves pursued by the Reavers, another recognizable group of X-Men foes from Marvel Comics lore. Being cyborg-enhanced soldiers, the Reavers are desperate to capture Laura, who is connected to some mysterious agenda that was vaguely foreshadowed in a post-credits scene after last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. While they’re not the most fleshed-out of foes, their high numbers and enhanced battle features make them pretty well-chosen fodder for both Logan and Laura. It also helps that a highly charismatic and delightfully sinister Boyd Holbrook leads the Reavers as Logan’s central antagonist, Donald Pierce, a cyborg super-villain from Marvel Comics lore, who is as much a Wolverine fanboy as he is an unyielding professional mercenary.
Truth be told, there isn’t a single performance in Logan that doesn’t feel exceptional, with every character stealing the audience’s attention effortlessly, and never failing to miss an emotional or violent beat. Naturally though, the entire movie is tied together by Jackman, Stewart and Keen most of all, Jackman especially, balancing a struggle against inevitability with a bright, shining example to carry on for the future. There’s a big sense of shifting tides in Logan, but also a sense of vague optimism in the otherwise heavy and highly dramatic performances, even as one era closes in order to give way to another.
With Logan being done in the style of a road trip movie for most of its duration, it’s difficult to go into much specifics about it without some key spoilers. The movie begins simply enough, as a worn, cynical and aged Wolverine tries to make ends meet as a limo driver (yes, seriously) in 2029, long after his time with the X-Men, in turn also caring for an aged and increasingly unstable Charles Xavier with his mutant friend, Caliban. When a mysterious young mutant girl named Laura finds her way to Logan and Xavier however, the first apparent mutant born in over a decade, the two must race to a supposed haven for mutants, to keep Laura away from the sinister agenda of a band of cyborg mercenaries called the Reavers.
This straightforward setup comes with plenty of surprising stops, drama and twists as the movie goes on, culminating in a truly heart-wrenching climax that is as violent as it is impactful. Beyond a small stretch of the second act, there’s almost never any lull in the storytelling either. Logan never fails to be entertaining, even when it gets far more dark and depressing than any X-Men-related movie before it. As fantastically wild as the action is, what’s even better is how well it’s strung together with equally powerful helpings of emotion, drama and heart.
The only slight issue with the storyline, and it is very, very slight, practically a nitpick, but regardless, it’s the fact that Logan alludes to so many key events about its story foundation in the X-Men movie timeline, but doesn’t properly explore enough about why things are the way they are in some instances. The explanation for what happened to mutants is very hastily tossed in and mostly glossed over in the climax, the resolution and apparent destruction of the X-Men is very quickly brought up in one scene and not elaborated upon (the sudden existence of in-universe X-Men comic books is also never explained), and the similar resolution and apparent disappearance of forces like the Mutant Brotherhood is also never touched upon at all. As much as Logan is a brilliant conclusion to this big screen Wolverine’s saga, it nonetheless feels like the X-Men film franchise skipped a movie, possibly even a couple of movies, which might frustrate fans who will start seeing some sizable holes in the series’ canon after Logan’s events.
As I said though, that skipping over of fairly crucial X-Men movie timeline events is a very small issue, and one that more casual viewers especially probably won’t care much about, especially when they have enough small story crumbs to fill in some of the blanks well enough. The fact that most importantly remains as well is that Logan is the perfect conclusion to the story of Jackman’s Wolverine, closing the book on one of the longest-running X-Men movie personalities, but still giving this film franchise a feeling of heightened freshness at the same time.
(NOTE: The spoiler section, when clicked, discusses potential post-credits scenes, the potential for Wolverine to continue existing in the X-Men movie universe in some form despite Jackman retiring from the role, and a few details regarding larger connections that Logan has to future projects in Fox’s X-Men movie franchise.)
Regarding Wolverine’s fate and the future of the X-Men film franchise, the obvious fan speculation is correct, and Wolverine does indeed die at the end of this movie, with Xavier also being killed at the end of the second act. This pretty bluntly guarantees that Wolverine is permanently gone from the ongoing canon of the movie series (though McAvoy portraying the younger Xavier is still on the table for future prequel movies, obviously), barring a potential full series reboot with the Wolverine role recast. Considering how busy Fox’s ongoing live-action X-Men franchise is currently becoming between film and television though, it’s not going to be rebooted any time soon. Again, fan speculation is pretty much right on the money with the prediction that Laura/X-23 is being positioned to succeed Wolverine as the new face of the X-Men film franchise too, with the ambiguous ending of Logan involving a fresh squad of mutant children walking to the alleged mutant haven with Laura. This pretty blatantly sets up the in-development New Mutants movie, though none of the New Mutants proper actually appear.
Finally, even though this was also pretty blatantly disproven already, Deadpool does not appear at all in Logan, nor is he mentioned. The filmmakers nonetheless have some fun with the Deadpool movie’s enormous success though, since a funny teaser for the Deadpool movie sequel plays in the style of a preceding short film before Logan properly begins, as something of a cool surprise for fans.
Director, James Mangold returns to helm Logan, after previously directing 2013’s second Wolverine movie, The Wolverine. No longer being shackled by a PG-13 rating, Mangold is clearly relishing the opportunity to go for broke with Wolverine’s character as well, effortlessly putting together a visceral, intimate and uncompromising portrayal of Logan’s last stand in the current X-Men movie franchise. Mangold and Jackman naturally work beautifully together in their shared vision for Logan, particularly as Jackman delivers far and away his best, most emotional, animalistic and powerful performance as Wolverine to date in this movie.
As I mentioned, the other performances also work exceptionally under Mangold’s direction to boot. Mangold doesn’t spare an opportunity to encourage the actors to be bleak and uncompromising, and this leads to a movie that generally feels very heavy, though again, never to its detriment. Mangold smartly knows where to add humour and more optimistic story beats, ensuring that Logan feels emotionally powerful and consistently memorable, without ever being a slog that emotionally drains the viewer.
Despite some of the faults of The Wolverine, it’s also difficult to deny that Mangold really knows how to realize Wolverine in battle as well. Now with no limits, Mangold spares no expense and no effort when it comes to portraying a viciously violent, super bloody and hard R-rated mutant action movie. The action is well-paced and well-realized in every way as well, creating enough gruesome kills to satisfy gorehounds and longtime Wolverine fans, without having Logan descend into becoming mindless gore porn or goofy schlock. Every element of Logan’s tone and presentation has been expertly calculated by Mangold, leading to a movie that manages to satisfy on every level, even as it takes on a complex array of highly different emotions and themes for its troubled leads.
Marco Beltrami does pretty exceptional work in composing the soundtrack of Logan, creating a score that feels as harsh and unrefined as this new aged portrayal of Jackman’s Wolverine. There’s a huge sense of Western sensibilities in the music suite, between fitting, evocative country tunes like Johnny Cash’s, “When a Man Comes Around” that perfectly plays over the credits, along with morose, yet powerful original compositions that convey the movie’s dark tone, without making it feel overbearing or self-indulgent. This is one of the best soundtracks that the X-Men film franchise has put together to date, and interested fans will likely want to own it to listen to at their leisure.
Naturally, the rest of the audio work is also fantastic in Logan, especially now that it’s allowed to go nuts with a full-blown R-rating. The slashing and stabbing of Wolverine’s and Laura’s claws feels more visceral and squeamish than any former X-Men franchise movie aside from the also-R-rated Deadpool would feasibly allow, with every brutal kill captured perfectly in all of its sickly glory. When claws slash through flesh and bone, lopping off limbs and heads or skewering skulls, it feels more realistic and believable than any of Wolverine’s prior big screen appearances, deftly conveying that this franchise has firmly taken off the kid gloves, even more so than in Deadpool!
Likewise, guns, bombs and other such weapons also feel more realistic and overpowering, creating action and violence that feels much more realistically brutal than it ever could in the PG-13 X-Men movies. You’ll get even more power to the action when you enjoy Logan’s IMAX cut as well, which makes the liberal violence sound even more gleefully gory and visceral! Believe me when I say that every potential iota of Wolverine’s fury is perfectly captured in Logan’s audio. He’s no longer pulling his metaphorical punches!
In having a more harshly grounded and brutal tone, Logan sheds some of the high spectacle in most of the previous X-Men movies, and even its own two Wolverine movie predecessors. Instead, Logan, naturally, more closely follows the violent, messy sensibilities of Deadpool in terms of its action and special effects, being scrappier, more savage, and consisting of action scenes that are far more believably gruesome. The budget in Logan is significantly smaller than most of the recent X-Men movies (though still far bigger than the modest budget of Deadpool), but this helps make for a movie that avoids distracting with unnecessary special effects, and is instead purely about the destructive animal that defines both Logan and Laura. There’s minimal CG in some of the action scenes, with CG also being used to assist in some of the gorier moments too, but for the most part, the stunts are properly handmade in design, with the action feeling as believable as it is consistently savage.
As for what the IMAX cut adds to the visuals, well, not much to be honest. The increased real estate of the IMAX screen isn’t really used, with the IMAX cut instead mostly existing to enhance the gory action and audio. If that’s what you want, then the IMAX cut of Logan is still mostly worth it, but given the more grounded nature and smaller, more personal scale behind the movie, you also won’t lose too much if you stick with a standard digital screening. Either way though, the increased rawness and beastliness behind the action is what really sells the experience most, so Logan doesn’t really need flash to look awesome and brutal when it comes down to it!
Logan stands alongside Deadpool as another hard R-rated masterpiece for Fox’s X-Men film franchise, and mature audiences definitely shouldn’t miss it, especially if they’re already X-Men fans! After X-Men: Apocalypse disappointingly recycled a lot of old superhero movie tricks last year, which was condemned further after the refreshing masterwork of Deadpool came just months beforehand, Logan compensates by finding another bold and memorable new way to keep Fox’s X-Men movies fresh and interesting, while beautifully wrapping up the Wolverine movie trilogy with an excellent final offering that doesn’t just surpass its two predecessors, but completely annihilates them!
Beyond the obvious appeal of an uninhibited Wolverine that’s finally allowed to embrace the bloody, cuss-filled glory of a purely adult target audience though, Logan also succeeds as something far more for superhero movies in general, even beyond the X-Men film franchise. Its dark, emotional and complex tale of a fading legend will pull at the heartstrings as much as it pumps the adrenaline. Jackman truly saved his best Wolverine performance for last here, as he mines all of the remaining potential depth of Logan’s character to give him a heart-wrenching, powerful climax and send-off that couldn’t possibly be realistically topped. As far as closing the book on Jackman’s Wolverine goes, this is pretty much a perfect farewell.
In fact, I’d even go as far as to agree with Ryan Reynolds when I say that Logan is probably the first comic book movie since 2008’s The Dark Knight that legitimately deserves Oscar consideration, and I definitely don’t say that lightly! It probably won’t get it because it’s a mainstream blockbuster bearing the Marvel brand, which is very unfortunate, but Logan nonetheless deserves that level of consideration. As much as modern superhero movie institutions like the Marvel Cinematic Universe have mastered the art of fun, crowd-pleasing popcorn flicks, Logan goes somewhere deeper and darker than most other superhero movies would ever dare. It explores challenging themes, doesn’t compromise on the bleakness or the drama, and is all tied together with some of the best performances in any superhero movie to date!
Even then, despite the heavy sense of weight and finality throughout Logan, the movie also reinvigorates Fox’s X-Men film franchise anew by the end, leaving viewers with tons of reasons to look forward to new faces and new story potential, even as they must say goodbye to a character that’s been defining this movie franchise for almost twenty years. As difficult as that farewell is though, you’ll nonetheless be perfectly happy and satisfied that Jackman’s final Wolverine story easily turned out to be the best of them!
- Universally excellent performances, especially from Jackman
- Highly dark, dramatic storyline that expertly tackles complex emotions and themes
- Sublime direction and action that wonderfully capitalizes on the R-rating
- Could have fleshed out some key backstory a bit more