Released: March 2017
Some film franchises generate more goodwill than others, for a variety of reasons. People kept returning to Spiderman with hope in their hearts dud after dud, while Green Lantern was written off after just one, admittedly bad, try-out. He’s even been purged from the upcoming Justice League film the taint is so bad. Wolverine is one character that seems to have some kind of inbuilt criticism deflector built into it, quite possibly in the shape of Hugh Jackman. As likeable leads go, he’s one of the best, and comes with enough talent to raise any mediocre script far beyond the level at which it should sit. Whatever the reason, the Wolverine franchise is one of the most popular out there, and a new film is always accompanied with a wave of enthusiasm, despite the previous films always actually being not very good. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t actively bad, certainly compared to some other fellow comicbook films, but they have all fallen short of giving us the real insight into the character we want to see. However, he remains a wildly popular figure and the new films kept coming where others would have been dropped after the first solo attempt.
However, all good times must end, and with Logan’s (Hugh Jackman) mutant power being regeneration, Jackman’s aging body was getting hard to ignore. Cue entry for possibly the best of the X-Men comics “Old Man Logan“. The plot is completely separate from the film, which is a good thing as it means you can read the comic without spoiling the film, but the character we get is all there. It’s a haggard Wolverine, slowly poisoned by the metal in his body. It’s a tired Wolverine, hiding from the world, which has ended up almost mutant-free, doing shifts as a limo driver in a bleak and desperate near future. It’s a Wolverine who wants nothing to do with anything.
Of course, plot must happen, and so get involved he does. He ends up on a road trip with an old and periodically confused Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a young mutant girl (Dafne Keen) who remains preternaturally calm considering the evil corporate giant chasing her down.
As in all the best comicbook films, the superpowers are not the star of the show. It’s a hybrid film of road-trip family-drama with superpowers and the characters are the focus of the film throughout.
With so much hinging on the three leads, it’s a huge boost to the film that it already had two such strong actors as Jackman and Stewart in place. Luckily for us, the 11 year old Dafne Keen shows huge range, real emotion and comes close to stealing the whole film from the two stalwarts. The dynamic between the three is instantly recognisable as a family, however dysfunctional each may be, with a sick and stressed Logan stuck in the generational middle, looking after a young child and an old man, when all he wants is to be free from responsibility. Even side roles, such as Caliban (Stephen Merchant) has enough meat to them you that you wish you had more time to get to know everyone. The villains are villainy, the plot occasionally ridiculous, but it’s the grounded characters themselves that keep everything feeling real and plausible.
For fans of the classic comicbook film, it’s also still a mass of action scenes, and easily as violent as the recent Deadpool solo film. The violence doesn’t feel gratuitous though, and just serves to emphasise the bleak and harsh world our protagonists inhabit. In fact, the depth and complexity of characters in this film only serve to heighten the action scenes as you are more acutely aware of them as real people in real danger. Peril is a very real feeling in Logan, with it’s protagonists being sick, old or very young it means no one is so superhuman as to be invulnerable.
While DC are still floundering with their film adaptations, and Marvel having their first arguable flop in Iron Fist, Fox are looking to be on the rise in the comicbook world following the huge success of Deadpool last year, and with Logan being hailed by many critics as the best comicbook film so far. With new Deadpool and Kingsman sequels coming out this year, and rumours of Gambit and New Mutants films in the next year or two, it’s possible that Fox are the new studio to watch.