‘Logan’: What Makes This ‘Wolverine’ Movie So Different
Superhero movies are constantly evolving. As the genre continues to pump out a collection of new films every year, it’s forced studios to adapt and grow, lest they get left behind. If Deadpool proved anything earlier in 2016, it’s that going out on a limb goes a long way toward separating yourself from the pack.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the same studio behind that move is once again going against the grain, brought on by the 2017 release of Logan. The final installment in the Hugh Jackman-led Wolverine saga promises to be a whole different brand of superhero movie. But just how will it live up to that billing?
1. The R-rating
One of the byproducts of Deadpool‘s success has been a commitment from studios across the board to embrace the “violent and gritty” approach. Of course to say that Deadpool did what it did solely because of its R-rating is a gross oversimplification, but that doesn’t change the fact that the rating gave it a unique level of creative freedom. With the ability to go pretty much anywhere it wanted, it was allowed a special amount of leeway not afforded to any other comic book film.
Logan will have that same freedom, and given the viciously grim source material it pulls from, there’s really no other way this movie could have been made. We’ve seen what happens when a superhero movie operates in half-measures, shown to us by the wannabe-grit of both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Logan on the other hand, will be going all-in, and odds are it’ll be better off for it in the end.
2. A weak, frail shell of a superhero
We’re accustomed to seeing our superheroes as powerful, larger than life saviors. Everyone from Captain America to Superman, while not without their relative weaknesses, are generally viewed as unstoppable forces of nature. The versions of Wolverine and Professor X we’ll be getting in Logan though are broken men long past the prime of their respective lives. In the screenplay, we see Logan described as a man “in a constant state of chronic pain,” brought on by a diminished healing factor and years of brutal injuries.
Charles Xavier, once again played by Patrick Stewart, is even worse off. Relegated to a hospital bed, the man formerly known as Professor X, is losing his intellect. He’s well into the latter years of his lifespan, and is barely all there mentally, thanks to a debilitating degenerative brain condition. The sum total for both of our “heroes” is a pair of main characters who are a far cry from their nigh-indestructible younger selves.
3. A character driven superhero story
The modern superhero story is typically packed with characters, connections to a larger shared universe, and the general feel that the heroes we see on-screen are secondary to the bombastic action sequences that drive the bulk of the film’s narrative. Logan looks to be running in the opposite direction of that entirely, focusing primarily on its titular character, and his relationship with both Charles Xavier and the mysterious young girl he finds under his protection. For once, big-budget action and CGI will take a backseat to fleshing out our characters’ motivations, and how they relate to the world around them.
That all falls in line with the idea of our main hero existing as a broken man past his prime. In order for that idea to really hit home, we have to understand how he got there in the first place. The only version of Wolverine we’ve seen up until now is one that shrugs off bullets and relentlessly kicks ass. To see how Logan went from that, to an arthritic shell of his former self will be far more important than flashy special effects.
4. Realistic consequences
Most superhero movies feature a handful of moments where the first reaction from any sane mind is “there’s no way anybody would actually ever survive that in real life.” Logan will unsurprisingly not be one of those movies, and a page from the screenplay posted on Instagram speaks to as much.
In this flick, people will get hurt or killed when shit falls on them. They will get just as hurt or just as killed when they get hit with something big and heavy like, say, a car. Should anyone in our story have the misfortune to fall off a roof or out a window, they won’t bounce. They will die.
Even Logan, a man whose whole skeleton is coated in adamantium, will be subject to those rules, especially as his healing factor begins to fail him in his old age. It makes for a distinctly realistic tone not shared by any of its contemporaries in Hollywood. More than that, it gives us the chillingly uncomfortable feeling that this is a story that could very well take place in our own world.
5. Hugh Jackman’s time as Wolverine is unprecedented
You’d be hard-pressed to find an actor in the superhero universe who’s played a single character for as long as Hugh Jackman (save for co-stars Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen). It’s been 17 years since Jackman first appeared in the X-Men saga, going to star in four movies and three spinoffs (as well as various cameos throughout). To put that in perspective, Robert Downey Jr. first played Ironman eight years into Jackman’s tenure, while Christian Bale played Batman for all of seven years. Logan will act as the period at the end of a storied run, promising to be a touching, if understated exit for Jackman.
6. Logan is the next step in the evolution of superhero movies
If the superhero genre is going to survive in Hollywood long-term, studios aren’t going to have the luxury of spitting out the same stories over and over again. Audiences are constantly in search of something new, and that applies to comic book movies just as much as any others. It’s why Deadpool was such a runaway success. With that in mind, Logan represents the next step in the genre’s evolution, bringing us a narrative rooted more in compelling storytelling, and less in the usual action/adventure/special effects realm.
7. Proving that less is more
Your average Marvel or DC movie is likely to feature a flurry of special effects, explosions, and CGI. Suffice it to say, subtly is not a hallmark of the comic book genre. The benefit of a character-driven story like Logan is that suddenly, a light touch isn’t merely an experimental approach; it’s a necessity. You can bet that Hollywood will be watching the box office take for this one closely too. If Deadpool taught us anything, it’s that a healthy opening weekend for an out-there idea can have a huge effect on the rest of the industry.
8. This could very well spell the future of the X-Men franchise
It’s not hard to see how X-Men: Apocalypse made 20th Century Fox take a step back and rethink its approach to the franchise last year. While the R-rated Deadpool movie was a runaway success, Apocalypse was a relative disappointment both financially and critically. It should come as no surprise to anyone that 2017’s only planned film from the saga is Logan, as the studio revisits their approach to the main franchise. If Logan ends up with a similar level of success to Deadpool, be prepared for a massive slate of gritty, standalone adventures in place of the primary timeline.
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