by RYAN FITZGERALD//Staff Writer
The final Wolverine stand-alone film starring Hugh Jackman as the Adamantium-infused, super mutant brings a long awaited, R-rated take on the classic character.
Hidden somewhere near the border between Mexico and Texas, Logan cares for an ailing Charles Xavier (Professor X), who continues to suffer from chronic seizures. Balancing his traditional edginess and rampant alcoholism with the need to maintain a sense of secrecy about his entire situation, Logan takes jobs as a limo driver in an attempt to accrue enough money to bail Charles and himself out of their current situation.
While doing this, Logan’s plan to hide from the outside world gets upended when he is introduced to a young mutant who is very much like him. The rest of the film chronicles the tale of Logan’s battle with his desire to resist the use of violence and his dedication to Charles, who has repeatedly served as a father figure, despite Logan’s resistance to the idea of any kindred relationship.
Though viewers have begun to feel this father-son dynamic between Logan and Charles build throughout the last series of “X-Men” films, this somewhat hidden, but understood relationship is finally brought to fruition with the film. The beginning of the film presents Charles in a declining mental state, so Logan must take it upon himself to care for the man who once cared for him despite his gruff exterior.
If anything, the beginning of this movie sheds light on Logan’s need for a father and Charles’ need for a son, and how each of them fulfills that role for the other. The Wolverine, as a character, is not an individual who pays respect to just anyone. Throughout their time together, Charles has been the one individual who has tried to make Logan’s life better, rather than worse. He has always been the sole individual who has seen and continually wants the best of Logan.
They also share several common experiences – both are loners, deeply introverted in their own ways. When Logan needs to get away, he hides, while Charles spends much of his downtime in solitary environments – in an attempt to escape the infinite number of voices in his head.
Both have a desperate need for family, and they know that. Logan resists the conventional family montage, because in the past, every person he has attached himself too has been ripped away. Throughout the “X-Men” franchise, Logan has been haunted by the death of Jean Grey, the woman he loved who had to die at the tips of his own claws.
In contrast, Charles’ friendship with Logan could possibly be an attempt to redeem his failed friendship with Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto). Erik knew Charles like no other, and when Xavier took in Wolverine, it was to make up for when he failed Erik. In personality, Logan and Erik are both the mental and emotional results of tragic pasts that have led them to impulsively seek violence. Both are emotionally driven by their damaged pasts, which translates into the volatile and highly reactive response to any situation.
“Logan” simultaneously reads as an origin story hidden beneath a narrative recording the final chapter of the Wolverine saga. Why does this matter? Because the new mutant is X-23 – Logan’s daughter.
Though a DNA-replicated, test tube clone, X-23 and Logan share more than just the Adamantium claws, regenerative health and superhuman senses and reflexes. They connect on a deeper, more personal level, in which Laura (played by Dafne Keen), who just like her “dad,” has a predilection for rage, a difficult personality and an aggressive demeanor.
Wolverine was the creation of the Weapon X program, the clandestine, genetics operation that attempted to create a super soldier by coating Wolverine’s skeleton with an indestructible alloy. As depicted in the movie, Laura (X-23) is the product of a similar militarized, scientific program which utilizes the DNA left over from super mutants to build an army of super-powered children illegally somewhere in Mexico.
This replication of character is important. The film does more than just tie together their fundamental commonality as being scientific experiments gone horribly wrong. The movie sets up a father-daughter relationship in which Logan pulls the best from himself to care for and protect his “family,” which includes Charles, Laura and her fellow mutants.
Coincidently, Laura emotionally evolves throughout the movie to become a reflection of her father in attitude and worldliness. Violence may not be the whole answer, but a necessary means to protect the loved ones who they value greater than themselves.
So what’s to become of this new mutant, the new Wolverine? The X-men franchise can now take a turn, setting up an all new X-Men crew led by Laura as the new Wolverine. Viewers can follow the comic series to see that she takes the place of her father, even donning Wolverine’s traditional yellow suit.
Fox has announced that they’re working on a “New Mutants” film, as an X-Men spinoff, though it is not clear how Laura and the rest of her displaced super mutant friends will fit into the role.
Overall, director James Mangold’s film balances the tender and the emotional with the raw and rough. Logan is finally presented to audiences in a way that channels the animal that always has been tucked away within, the way Wolverine should have always been depicted – a claw-swinging, cigar-smoking, cranky, cuss machine with a sarcastic sense of humor and a good heart. Luckily for fans, they also get the pre-teen daughter of this complicated character who will amply carry forward the Wolverine persona.
I give “Logan” 5 out of 5 stars.