2029 does not seem far away at all, yet the future we see in Logan is bleaker than we could have imagined from any of the previous X-Men films. Mutants are on the verge of extinction, and the surviving few are being ruthlessly hunted. As is always the case with the X-Men, there are villains attempting to weaponise mutant powers. Logan adds a fresh perspective to this – the subtle backdrops we see that run through the film show us the rampant inequality that exists in the world. Mutant powers are not simply being weaponised, they are being monopolised, with no qualms at all about mutant lives. After all, mutants are so different and so easily dehumanised.
Which is why Logan is such an incredible addition to the superhero genre. It is the most human portrayal of mutants and superheroes in any of these films, and takes real time to explore its small handful of characters. The action is gory and violent, well-deserving of its R rating, but it is also more infrequent than we might think. There are far more powerful, moving, and memorable scenes in Logan than those in which he unleashes his claws.
So many moments like this immediately come to mind. Logan’s callous caregiving for Charles Xavier in his old age and illness. Charles’ rekindled hope for redemption and for mutantkind upon meeting Laura. Laura’s anguish at losing a newfound loved one. The list goes on, and it really is quite a crippling film if you go in expecting a classic superhero film, and I mean that in the best possible way. Logan explores new, darker territory that has been a staple of comics for a long time, but has rarely made it to the big screen in a way that was executed well.
The world is not what it was, Charles. Mutants…they’re gone now.
– James ‘Logan’ Howlett, Logan
And Logan is an inspiring story, with Logan being the inspiring figure at its centre. He is the figure we’ve become used to seeing as an invincible superhero, now brought to his knees, ageing and dying. The man that wants above all to be left alone, only to be brought once more unto the breach. The toll of fighting the good fight is evident. Like all superhero films, we will our hero to get back up and keep fighting, no matter the odds. In fact, arguably the odds and consequences are a lot less globally severe in the case of Logan than other X-Men films. But our affection for the characters and our need for an uncompromising figure means that this is the most meaningful battle Logan has ever faced. The world is beyond saving, and that is no longer what we want from Logan. We know that Logan won’t return or regenerate this time, we know that if he continues fighting, he will finally die. And that’s okay.
So this is what it’s like.
– James ‘Logan’ Howlett, Logan
The last of the X-Men dies saving a group of young mutants. He dies with the final bit of the old world, leaving Laura and her friends to survive in the new one. We are left with symbolism giving the impression that Logan has become a revered figure to the next generatiom of mutants, in a way that could easily be described as biblical. The world may be just as bleak as it was at the beginning, but the legacy that Logan leaves, for both the characters and the fans, is lasting and cathartic.