By Stella Stokes
“Logan” is the final story of Wolverine, the claw wielding mutant reprised by Hugh Jackman for the last time. The movie is based on an original story written by director James Mangold, who directed the previous 2013 Wolverine movie, “The Wolverine.” Wolverine’s final chapter is more like a Western than another installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, taking a slower pace to show the tragedy of aging heroes.
The movie shows Logan (rarely ever mentions Wolverine) as a broke and drunk Uber driver in El Paso, Texas that hides out on the other side of the Mexican border with the former leader of the X-Men Charles Xavier (reprised by Patrick Stewart). A former nurse pleads Logan to take a girl up north from the experimenting facility she was raised in, Transigen. The nurse gets killed by the people pursuing the escaped mutant children and wants the girl that the nurse took. It is quickly revealed to be Logan’s daughter Laura (Dafne Keen), who was bred with his DNA. Being chased by Transigen, Logan takes Laura and Xavier on the pursuit for a safe haven for mutants called Eden.
“Logan” is the second R-rated comic book movie 20th Century Fox released since the release of the largely popular, “Deadpool”. This rating really shows in the fights, often criticized as being sanitized for a PG-13 audience. Instead of deep cuts from the past X-Men movies, “Logan” shows many decapitations, amputation of limbs, and direct head shots. You want claws through the brain? You get claws through the brain. Laura does not spare anything less, being trained as a weapon since birth, and kills many people with her tiny claws.
Unlike the previous Wolverine movies, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and “The Wolverine,” “Logan” follows closer to a Western movie. James Mangold has some experience in the Western genre with directing the “3:10 to Yuma” reboot and the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” There is no singular definition of a Western movie, but “Logan” references classic Western tropes. Taking place on the Texas/Mexico border, later on the country road, this movie shows the decline of Logan. He still has great strength, but he gets tired after fights. He is apprehensive of fighting others and has many regrets of all the people he has killed. Logan does not heal as fast as he did in the past, showing his scars and the infected pus where his claws come out of his hands. Xavier is frail and ill, occasionally suffering from seizures that affects everyone within several hundred feet with temporary paralysis. Logan has to help Xavier take his medication and get in and out of his wheelchair. Logan and Xavier talk about the dead members of the X-Men, sounding similar to any mention of dead friends or partners in previous Westerns. Seeing these men fragile, aging, and regretful follows the likes of classics like “True Grit” and “No Country for Old Men.”
The movie directly refers to Western classic “Shane,” about an aging gunslinger who stays with a family and a young boy who looks up to him. A clip of the movie appears in “Logan,” where Xavier reminisces watching it as a child with Laura. While on the road, Logan, Xavier, and Laura stay with a farming family after saving their horses and truck, similar to the family in “Shane.” If Logan is Shane, then Laura is the young boy who cries out Shane’s name as he leaves into the sunset. That young boy can also be anyone that loves Wolverine, in the story and in the audience. The tragedy is seeing Wolverine, a symbol of masculinity and hero to many people, not being able to fight with his mutant strength that everyone praised him for.
Comic book fans will enjoy “Logan” as a formal send off of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine after 17 years of donning the claws. People who don’t follow every X-Men movie could understand the characters’ regrets of the past. Anyone who like Westerns, or any movie about the humanity of heroes, will understand and relate to the story and Logan himself.