Hugh Jackman has played Logan/Wolverine for 17 years. To put this into context, at the age of 36 (at time of writing) this means Hugh Jackman has played this role for practically half of my time on earth. Impressive as this longevity is, the output has been somewhat hit and miss.
The highs of X-Men 2 (2003) and his cameo in X-Men : First Class (2011) can not be rightly praised without acknowledging the problems of X-Men: the Last Stand (2006) and the utter nonsense of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
This new film though is a very different animal.
James Mangold now brings us Logan. Opting for a title of simplicity and without a colon in sight this is not a typical X-Men film, or for that matter atypical Logan/Wolverine film. The title, while simple is profoundly effective as encompasses all you need to know. This is not a film about the superhero of comic book pages but it is about the man, his relationships and the burdens he carries.
In 2029 the mutant population has shrunk significantly and the X-Men have disbanded. Logan, whose self-healing powers are dwindling, has surrendered himself to alcohol and now earns a living as a chauffeur. He also is acting as carer for the ailing old Professor X whom he keeps hidden away from the world to protect not only Xavier but also humanity as seizures debilitating everyone within range are causing Logan's mentor considerable pain and weakening the strongest brain in the Marvel universe.
Logan encounters a young girl named Laura and is asked to transport her to the Canadian border. After initial reluctance Logan once again takes up the mantle of guardian and begins a road journey with Xavier accompanying them on the way. Laura is not a typical young girl she is in fact a mutant herself and not unlike Logan in her abilities. Relentlessly pursued by her creators the road trip is fraught with peril and action.
This is not a typical comic book film. Characters swear and the violence is as realistic and brutal as viewers have ever seen in the Marvel Universe but there is much more at play in this film. Adult themes of ageing, addiction, death, mourning are very much at the forefront of this film. Also the father son relationship of Xavier and Logan is explicitly examined to at times an unexpected tear inducing effect.
Logan is a road trip movie, a western a family drama and action film all rolled into one. It's emotional impact is unexpected but welcomed in a genre that feels at times generic and as flat as the pages they come from. Logan is proof that adult comic book movies are more than a thing of fantasy.
Films such as Kick Ass, Dredd, Watchmen, The Dark Knight and Deadpool all paved the way but Logan will be the touchstone for this genre going forward.
Logan is in cinemas now.