The yellow-suited, comic book hero named “Wolverine” we’ve come to love in the X-Men films is no more, and a much more interesting flesh-and-blood character, a weary, tired, conflicted old man named Logan, has taken his place. In what is supposedly his last superhero performance, Hugh Jackman takes center stage in the best comic book adaptation since The Dark Knight.
The film begins in 2029, many years after a mysterious event wiped out the rest of the mutant population. With his self-heal power dwindling and Professor X diagnosed with dementia, Logan retires from crime fighting but finds himself roped back into the world he had left behind when a young mutant comes knocking at his door. Logan and the girl, Laura, take a dangerous trek across the country and learn about one another’s pasts on the way.
The title is everything. Hugh Jackman’s previous stand-alone film within the X-Men universe was entitled The Wolverine while this film is Logan, the titular character’s given name. Even Professor X is credited as Charles. This was meant as a signal to the audience. Director James Mangold and Jackman have stated in various interviews that they sought to focus their film on character development, a breath of fresh air in a genre that obsesses over the typical superhero mythology. Hopefully Logan, with its symbolically eponymous title, signals a shift in not only Fox’s stake in the comic book cinematic universe but also in the genre as a whole.
With a title as gutsy as the filmmakers have chosen, a film is required to make due on its promises. Logan certainly does: Logan, Charles, Stephan Merchant’s Caliban, and Laura feel like the type of thoroughly-developed and mature characters one would expect to see in a prodigious writer’s passion project. And, most importantly for avid X-Men fans, the new focus on character development lended itself particularly well to the execution of Logan/Wolverine’s finale within the larger X-Men story arc.
Upon the release of its first well-crafted trailer last October, many have anticipated Logan to be spectacular, and boy, did it deliver. Logan does not only stand as the best outing of the X-Men series, but also presents a refreshing new direction within the comic book genre.