With Logan, the tenth movie in Fox's X-Men Extended Universe, Fox finally pulled off what many felt was impossible: making a quality Wolverine movie. With Hugh Jackman going on record time and again to say that this will, in fact, be his final movie as the GOAT X-Man Wolverine, it makes sense that they'd make sure Logan went out on the bleakest of high notes. Think of Logan as the love letter to the brooding, violent, lowkey caring mutant that is Wolverine. And while it's by no means the greatest superhero movie of all time, Logan could be seen as a tentpole moment in the realm of superhero cinema, and quite possibly be the most influential superhero film of all time.
WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead.
Now before you become the choir and start singing at the Deadpool preacher, trust and believe that I know how vital Deadpool's hard R rating (and subsequent success) was to even getting the moody, depressing, ultraviolent slashfest that is the R-rated Logan. When it comes to marketing superheroes to kids, you can't be too over the top; just look at the firm PG cloud that every movie in Marvel's Cinematic Universe exists under. It took some persusasion to get Fox to finally agree to let Ryan Reynolds make the Deadpool film that we deserved, and with the 2016 movie exceeding Fox's (meager) expectations, it took some stones to allow Jackman's final trek with the claws to mirror the skull-slicing, foul-mouthed Wolverine we've grown to love in the comics.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, though; Logan also does a great job at showcasing a side of superherodom that we rarely get to see on-screen: what happens after the hero's heyday. Think about it; only when we see a hero on his last legs do we get to see them reflect on their lives. Logan begins with Logan living a humdrum life, working as some kind of Uber-esque driver in a distant future (different universe?), making bank so he can take care of the few mutants that are left in the world (including a far gone Professor X). As we saw in the initial Logan trailer, which wisely takes on Johnny Cash's intimately intense cover of "Hurt," Logan's healing power isn't what it once was. He's a haggard, past-his-prime mutant who can still go, but can't bounce back like he once did. In an age when CGI is king and heroes can take all kinds of punishment and still mow through armies, it's refreshing to see the long life Logan led taking a toll on him (physically and mentally). He's the mutant embodiment of Murtaugh's catchphrase, and it's in this state that he has to take care of Laura, a young, mysterious girl who might be the key to the future of the mutant race.
One of the hallmarks of Wolverine's history in comics has been his ability to seek revenge. And like most good stories, revenge starts with opening your heart, and having your heart broken. Wolverine's forever storyline is falling for a woman (or caring deeply for someone) and having that thing taken from him, which sends him into a rage. It was one of the basic points in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but something that was bricked when they had him and Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse without any interaction. Their entire comic book storyline was him being a mentor/big brother to her! That's what makes Logan's relationship with Laura, who has a similar fire in her that peak Wolverine had (even more turnt if you've seen her in action), all the more special. He's actually able to spend time learning to love someone, even if that person pisses him off or detours him from where he saw the last years in his old life taking him. It's a trait we learn as siblings or parents, but one that's not given enough oomph on the superhero screen.
While it's far from the first superhero project to aspire to be more than "people with abilities f*ck sh*t up" (hey, Jessica Jones), Logan gains points because Wolverine is top dog. For a time, a comic book series wasn't sh*t unless Wolverine was in it. It's one of the reasons that the X-Men were at the forefront of this most recent superhero kick-off: Wolverine had to make his way onto film. It's one thing for a more niche character like Deadpool to break the superhero tropes and win doing it; that's what you hope for. Wolverine getting properly stabby-stabby while old man bickering with the most powerful mind on Earth? That's huge, and more importantly, it continues to push the envelope, (hopefully) giving the Foxs and DCs and Marvels the idea that a) these movies don't have to be wall-to-wall funny action flicks and b) they can take chances with their breadwinners.
Logan, even more so than Deadpool, is the antithesis of what we expect a superhero movie to be. Off the rip, none of the Marvel films have been as cinematic as Logan. The western, road movie inspiration here is key; as the trio travels along the highways and by-ways of America, we're treated to a picturesque look at the American landscape, allowing us to soak in these areas. It's a stark contrast to the dark and gloomy look of the recent DC movies or the quick-cut, fast-paced Marvel flicks. While aesthetically the film is bright, nothing else about it is. Walking out of Logan almost feels like leaving a funeral, but truth be told, that's the point. Logan 's about the end of the road in a number of ways, from the literal end of Jackman's journey as Wolverine to death itself. With Marvel upping the ante and turning these franchises into interconnected universes, Logan dives headfirst into the abyss. One question you'll immediately ask yourself at the end of Logan is "where the f*ck do we go from here?" Logan is one of the first times where we get to revel in all of the hallmarks of superhero storytelling—the action, the suspense, the reckless abandon—in a movie that, ultimately, doesn't feel much like a comic book film.
The question is, with Logan succeeding at removing us from the comfortable superhero cinema that we've grown accustomed to, will its giant steps equate to Hollywood thinking outside of the box for their superhero properties, especially those that are top tier heroes?
With Logan being pegged to pull in $65 million this weekend stateside (with another $100 million+ coming from overseas) while chilling with an impressive Certified Fresh rating of 93% at Rotten Tomatoes, this feels like the ultimate win for the X-Men franchise in a sea of confusing timelines and tepid outlets. It's too early to see if the chances Fox took with Logan will pan out to them (finally) getting sh*t right, but as Rob Liefeld put it when speaking on Deadpool, "the product has to change." The fans of the comics back then are older now, and want to see a more mature superhero on film. Whether that's investing in more mature comic book stories or daring to turn up the heat on existing properties. the potential monetary success of Logan, combined with the overwhelming critical acclaim, could mean that future films follow in Logan's limping, worn-out foot steps.