We’re looking back at all of the X-Men films before the final entry in the franchise, Dark Phoenix, hits theaters. Today we look at quite possibly the best film in the franchise, and one of the best Superhero films ever made, Logan.
After 17 years and nine appearances in films via featured roles or cameos, Hugh Jackman hangs up the claws with Logan. The film also serves as a send off for Patrick Stewart’s take on Professor Xavier. While the final chapter of Wolverine’s story could have been a simple action film, it was something more, something more powerful than any film in the X-Men franchise to date. This is a film about mortality, fatherhood, and deciding how one’s own story ends.
The film takes place in the year 2029, where mutants have mostly been wiped out, and after an accident at the mansion, Professor Xavier inadvertently kills the X-Men and regular civilians. Logan is keeping Xavier hidden south of the US and Mexico border, working as a limo driver in El Paso, TX. His hope is to save up enough money to buy a boat and spend their final days out at sea. The professor has been having seizures which cause catastrophic damage to all those around, and Logan seems to be succumbing to the adamantium within him poisoning his body. This is the end of the line for our two biggest heroes in this universe, and they want to go out peacefully. But – as we’ve learned from Logan’s past – a peaceful end is easier said than done.
It’s hard to put into words how amazing and powerful this film is. This isn’t a superhero film. This is a drama about a man at the end of his life, trying to survive, and figure out what his life meant. There’s no world to save here. There’s no global threat or big evil mutant that needs to be taken down. This story is completely about the character we have followed for 17 years, and watching his story come to an end.
The film asks what matters most when everything in our lives is stripped away. In his final scenes of the film, Xavier comments on the peaceful night he shared with Logan, the young Laura, and a family that took them in for the night. He talks about the importance of enjoying the simplicities of life, like having people there that love and care about others. It’s easy to brush off these moments in a film about a mutant who can regenerate and has metal claws that he uses to cut people’s heads off. But if any franchise, any character, or any actor has earned this moment – it’s here.
These characters constantly fight for a way of life that is normal. They’ve been trying to show the world for nine films that they deserve to live a peaceful life. There’s the potential for that now, with Laura. But Logan is used to the fight. He’s used to running and killing people, and doing things he has to as the hero we’ve seen. He says he wants to buy this boat and sail off into the distance, and he complains about this trip with Laura, as they head to North Dakota to get her to a potential safe haven. But he never truly stops. He keeps moving. He keeps pushing forward and is willing to kill anyone that tries to stop them.
That’s what makes Xavier’s comments so powerful, and gives that moment so much meaning. Logan can say he’s done with killing and with life as Wolverine. But even when they’re taking one night to rest and try to enjoy the simplicities of life – like a home cooked meal – Logan can’t help but focus on going forward and the threat that follows them. Was it right for them to stop, maybe not given the carnage that follows. But Charles isn’t wrong to say that Logan needs to stop and take things in.
Moments like this between Charles and Logan mean even more because of the relationship that’s been built up over the course of this franchise. Especially in the last few films we’ve seen them in together. Days of Future Past does the best job of leading to this moment, giving Logan and Charles a major step forward in their relationship on screen. It helps build this moment in the best ways possible, and it’s a testament to how well this entire franchise has worked.
Logan is a beautiful, amazing, heartbreaking film that is a testament to the power that superhero films can contain. These films can mean more than just men and women in spandex trying to stop some evil villain from taking over the world. They can be about what it means to be human, what it means to have a family and friends. They can also be about life and death. Logan is a film that should be remembered as time goes on, not just for being a send-off to Hugh Jackman’s take on the character, but the power of these stories. These are mythic tales of humanity, and what that means. Even if it means life and death.
Be sure to check out the final installment of the X-Men Franchise, Dark Phoenix, when it hits theaters this weekend. You can check out the previous installments of our X-Men Retrospective at the links below.
X-Men Review: The Superhero Revolution Begins
X2: X-Men United – The X-Men Return To Save All Mutants
X-Men 3: The Last Stand – Thank God This Got Erased By The Prequels
X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Why God, Why?
X-Men: First Class – Mutants Are Groovy Baby
The Wolverine – The Solo Adventures of Wolverine Get Better
X-Men: Days of Future Past – The X-Men’s “Endgame”
Deadpool – The X-Men Franchise Finally Goes R Rated
X-Men: Apocalypse – Heroes and Heartbreak