By Shazwan Zulkiffli
The fanboy hype was real when Fox announced that they would be producing a new Wolverine stand-alone movie, loosely based on Marvel’s now-iconic limited series, Old Man Logan – albeit without key characters like Hawkeye and the Hulk Family. Things got even more serious when Hugh Jackman announced that it was to be his last time as the berserker after 17 years of playing everyone’s favorite grumpy Canuck (No Jeremy, you’re not the favorite). While some were positive that Fox would finally do Hugh Jackman and the character justice, most were sceptical of Fox’s direction and capabilities after being let down by X-Men: Apocalypse.
The one thing that had everyone excited prior to the movie was the fact that it would be the first R-rated X-Men movie yet. The success of Deadpool (Deadpool isn’t a part of X-Men, even though his movie featured Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead) was an eye-opener for the Fox board and proof that an R-rated superhero movie can make some serious moolah. Deadpool opened up many doors not just for Fox, but across to MCU and DCEU as well, and for Logan, the R-rating was a blessing Fox never knew they needed to make a Wolverine film really work. Even the director was delighted that they didn’t have to sell “Happy Meals” this time.
The film being R-rated allowed James Mangold and Hugh Jackman to truly explore the Wolverine character the way we all wanted them to: violent, vulgar, and full of gore – yet showcasing a softer, vulnerable side to the former Weapon X that was hinted at in previous outings. In order to sell figurines, plush toys and printed school bags, Fox restrained themselves from bringing out the real Wolverine for years, but Hugh Jackman took this one last opportunity to really let his claws loose and ran with it. Hugh Jackman presented a slightly older Wolverine – weary and morally broken after a series of traumatic events (even when we thought things would get better after Days of Future Past).
Even though the last Wolverine movie before this one was produced almost five years ago, this development of the character is truly natural.This new Wolverine doesn’t play nice, which is a far cry from his gruff mentor role at Xavier’s School for Gifted Children, but Dafne Keen, who plays X-23 in the movie, provides the emotional bridge that truly makes this movie great. The Mentor-Protege thing works handsomely throughout the movie as both characters grow closer despite initially despising each other. When it counts, Dafne Keen rises up to the occasion to overdeliver in the most gratifying way and frankly it’s refreshing to watch – especially for a newcomer. Patrick Stewart also puts on what may be a career best performance, showcasing a different side of the usually dignified Professor X that we have never seen before. It was strange to see Professor X being so vulnerable, unable to lead properly – regret and bitterness tinging his voice (something that comes as a contrast to his former optimistic self), but it was a risk worth taking for Fox.
There a lot of subtle touches that make the movie even more interesting to the keen observer. In late 2020s, you would expect the world to be more technologically advanced but due to the war on mutants and political uncertainties, it was clear that progress has somehow taken the backseat. Yes, there were giant robots aiding farmers in harvesting crops and driver-less trucks, but at the same time, the people were still using older cars from the 1990s to 2000s, infrastructure remains pretty much the same, and tigers were mentioned to be extinct. The creators were so attentive to detail to the point that Logan uses an almost current-gen phone, because Fox (for once) actually remembers that the character isn’t tech savvy despite living in 2029.
Another amazing thing to note is how James Mangold worked in relatable political arguments that most movies wouldn’t dare to discuss, using the most dangerous mind in that world as an example, Professor Xavier’s. The movie showed that no matter how good or great a leader was, there will come a time that the mantle should be passed. In Prof. X’s case, which is as the founder of the X-Men, he was selfish enough to lead the team even when he was clearly unfit to do so anymore. The result? He cost the lives of his own men and turned the country back to a mutantphobic nation. That’s a valuable lesson that real-life governments should learn from.
There’s also a disturbingly relevant recurring theme of racism, nationalism, and corporate greed underlying the film’s main themes and storyline, and the more you watch this film, the more you get out of it.
The decision to utilize Johnny Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Hurt’ as one of the main soundtracks for the movie was an almost transcendent decision. In a way, the legendary Johnny Cash, who died of to heartbreak after the death of his wife, can be likened to Wolverine’s character. Cash’s calm bass-baritone voice speaks well for Wolverine’s centuries of suffering, and acts as an indication that it is finally the time to go. No other official soundtrack in the 21st century has reached synergy in a movie in as great a way as this choice, and the lyrics to ‘Hurt’ could have been custom-written for this movie.
Logan wasn’t just the final outing for Jackman’s Wolverine, but also for the live-action X-Men that we enjoyed and grew up with. Once upon a time the likes of Cyclops, Wolverine, and Professor X ruled the silver screen as the original X-Men was the MCU’s the Avengers for the 90s kids, back when CGI technology hadn’t reached its prime. I’m sure a lot of us fans are thankful that Fox gave Wolverine a proper goodbye, despite the sharp taste of regret that accompanies the thought that X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine could have been this great. Having said that, Logan deserves an 8.7/10 for delivering the perfect farewell. Thank you for 17 years of James Howlett, Hugh Jackman.