Logan: A fresh take on the superhero genre
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“Logan,” the latest entry in the long-running X-Men franchise, manages to stand out in an over-saturated genre and serves as a proper farewell to old faces.
Based on the graphic novel “Old Man Logan,” “Logan” tells the story of an elderly Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) in the not too distant future. As one of the last living mutants, Logan becomes tasked with bringing a young mutant girl (Dafne Keen) to safety.
With superhero movies flooding in from all directions, “Logan” is a breath of fresh air–choosing to skip the typical cliches and follow the tropes of a different genre: The Western. The character of Logan is a lone reluctant hero who is given a task to defend the innocent by safely guiding them through dangerous territory. Even the location of the film (the American Mid-West) is representative of the Western genre.
The decision to make superheroes a backdrop in another genre lets “Logan” stand apart from the overused concept of heroes defending major metropolitan areas from world-threatening dangers.
“Logan” also chooses to focus more on drama. Although there are still plenty of exciting (and brutal) action scenes–including a tense car chase across the desert, the film’s dramatic elements are what make “Logan” a great film and not just a great superhero movie.
The most prevalent of these themes are family and morality. The original Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) returns as a dying man who is losing control of his abilities. His past role as Logan’s caretaker is reversed as Logan must now take care of him. Similarly, Logan is also an aging man slowly losing his abilities. Both men are plagued by the actions of their past.
Furthering the theme of family is the new girl, Laura. When she is suddenly put into Logan’s care, he is forced to become a father and care for the child, while simultaneously looking after Charles. These familial bonds challenge Logan to return to his role as a hero one last time.
And that final ride is a perfect send-off to Jackman and Stewart. The long-time faces of the X-Men franchise are both hanging up their roles after this film. Stewart’s character has already been replaced by the younger James McAvoy in the ongoing X-Men series, with Stewart only appearing to play a future counterpart. Jackman, similarly, has been playing his role for nearly two decades and is ready to retire from the franchise. Whether or not he will be recast in sequels is not yet known, but, undoubtedly, no actor can fully embody the role of Wolverine as well as Jackman did.
“Logan” served as suitable farewell to these beloved heroes, allowing them both to leave the franchise with a feeling of resolution, but the future looks bright for the franchise.
Keen’s performance as the young Laura was stellar. Faintly reminiscent of Millie Bobby Brown’s character Eleven in “Stranger Things,” Keen brings to life the mutant girl with an innocence and seriousness that makes the character both sympathetic and fierce. Hopefully her character will return as she would fittingly fill the void that the departing Jackman has left.
“Logan” is not just a good superhero movie, it is a great film and proves that even in today’s superhero-dominated market, you can still be different. By embracing a different demographic and trying on another genre, “Logan” stands out and will ride off into the sunset and the history books as a genre-changing film.