by Randy Slavey
What is it about?
It’s been nearly 50 years since the events that took place in X-Men: Apocalypse. Between that time and the present, mutant births have drastically decreased, the X-Men as an organization no longer exists, and Logan is taking care of an ailing Professor Xavier. A young mutant shows up one day, on the run and with powers eerily similar to Logan’s.
Will I like it?
I just returned from the theater five minutes ago, wrote this question, and then stood staring at my screen for another five minutes. I think people are going to love it, hate it, or do both at the same time. Wolverine is my favorite comic book movie character full stop, so I went into this film with extremely high expectations. I wanted two full hours of the raw pain conveyed by the Johnny Cash–backed trailer. I also wanted two full hours of comic book Wolverine slashing, impaling, and decapitating his way across the continent. Finally, I wanted two full hours of “The Xavier and Logan Show,” full of sarcastic banter peppered with emotional growth and personal discovery while caring for Laura. Since the run time of Logan is just over two hours, I obviously didn’t get my wish. What I did get was a beautiful swan song for two amazing characters, a pretty good X-Men movie, and an introduction to a young actress born to play X-23.
Does Logan have its flaws? Sure. In true X-Men fashion, characters are thrown in with little regard for their back story or development. If you walk out of the theater caring at all for any other characters than the three I’ve already mentioned, I’ll be shocked. Even Caliban, who you really want to care about, comes across as 2-dimensional comic relief, tossed to the side when he was no longer necessary to the story. However, having Stewart and Jackman at the top of their acting game can make up for a lot of writing and directing flaws, and their performances, as well as that of the young Dafne Keen, are more than enough to carry the movie.
Will my kids like it?
Do you allow your children to see rated R movies? If so, see above. If you’re letting your children watch a movie like Logan, hopefully they’re mature enough to come to the same conclusions an adult would. While younger viewers will likely associate more with Laura, and parents will empathize with Logan, there’s plenty of story here for everyone.
Does it deserve its R rating?
I’m never sure the best way to answer this question when it comes up. I could rail against the MPAA. I could tell you to go watch the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated. I could even have a good old-fashioned debate about exposing kids to violence/language/nudity and American Puritanism. That said, if you are going to have a rating system, Logan definitely falls at the opposite end of wherever Trolls resides. Unlike Deadpool, which is what everyone is going to compare it to, there is only one brief scene of nudity and zero sexual content. In truth, it’s more comparable to a much earlier rated R Marvel comic book movie that everyone seems to forget about: Blade.
And just like Blade, the writers of Logan more than made up for the lack of sex by packing the movie full of sharp-metal-to-soft-flesh sanguineous pyrotechnics. If you’re a fan of comic book Wolverine’s violent side (Google “Blade #5”, NSFW), you’ll be happy to hear there is plenty of claw-to-bad-guy-skull contact throughout. There are two specific instances of violence that are not as easy to dismiss as “bad guys getting their comeuppance.” Younger teens may have trouble processing these events. Finally, there are no shortage of f-bombs, with more than a few coming from the good Professor himself. When I first heard he swore a lot in this movie, I was worried it would seem out of character and forced. However, without giving away any spoilers, I will say when he does use them, it’s both explicable and fitting.
Do I need to watch any or all of the eight other Wolverine / X-Men movies to understand Logan?
You don’t need to. While there are a few moments that are explanations of previous events, I would imagine the story flows just fine without understanding what they’re talking about. Bad people want to do bad things, and angry misanthrope discovers softer side. I’m not saying you’ll understand everything that happens without the background of the other movies, rather that even having the background will not necessarily make everything clear. In fact, even for this family of die-hard X-Men fans, on the ride home from the theater there was more than one utterance of, “Was I supposed to understand why X was happening? Did they cover that in one of the other movies?” Whether Fox leaves these plot points to wither on the vine like they have in the past, or uses them as jumping off points for future X-Men movies remains to be seen*.
All that said, understanding and enjoyment are two entirely different things. While I personally think Logan is a good enough movie that even those who have never seen a single X-Men film will still enjoy it, they’re going to miss out on some of the gut-punching emotions that being invested in nine movies spanning over 17 years provides. This is no clearer than in the final 30 seconds of the movie. That little act by Laura is going to mean infinitely more to a fan of the franchise than it will to a newcomer. I think a good comparison would be having someone watch ‘Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen’ without having ever seen a single episode of M*A*S*H. It’s still brilliantly written and acted, but without 11 seasons worth of history, it’s just not the same.
* I’m still waiting for a good Jubilee or Psylocke, Fox executives.
When is the best time for a bathroom break?
You are never again going to see Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine or Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier on the big screen. Just go in your pants.
However, if you’re that worried about offending other moviegoers, there is a scene at around midway where, apropos to this topic, they’re having problems with the plumbing. Some back story is provided about the other people in the house, but it’s not essential to the story. Also, if you’re quick, when Logan starts to fall asleep driving. Run out, do what you gotta do, and get back before the SNIKTing begins again.
In a surprising move, Fox gave the big double-middle claw to 3D for the release of Logan. This means that you can actually enjoy watching it in gorgeous IMAX without the annoying glasses, headaches, lousy projector calibration, and all the other crap we’ve had to go through in the past to enjoy our favorite movies in IMAX because studios seemed to think nobody would pay for it if it were not also in 3D. I watched it in IMAX, but my guess is standard would be just fine as well.
Where does Logan fit in the insane, continuity-error-laden X-Men timeline?
I’m an enormous X-Men movie franchise fan, and as such, I’ve defended a lot of really, really bad decisions by Fox along the way (2009’s Deadpool, lightning toad, the entirety of Apocalypse, Brett Ratner). One of the biggest legitimate complaints is with continuity (Xavier’s death, Wolverine’s declawing, the ages of various characters, Brett Ratner’s career)**.
Thankfully, with Logan they didn’t have to rewrite history again. The film takes place in the year 2029 and follows the events of X-Men: Apocalypse, which is the modified timeline after Mystique does not kill Trask at the end of Days of Future Past. This basically means anything that happens in any of the prior movies after the 1970s is no longer in this timeline. The whereabouts of the rest of the X-Men is a central plot point in Logan, but was explained in the vaguest terms possible. Apparently, Fox has learned their lesson about retconning previous movies and pissing off fans.
As for the aging issue, the only holdover characters from any of the other movies are Xavier and Logan, both of whom have reasonable explanations for any appearance discrepancies. Logan has his healing powers, and Xavier is played by Patrick Stewart, who doesn’t age like normal people. I’m pretty sure he’s been 70 years old for at least 30 years.
** In case you were wanting explanations: (1) After the Dark Phoenix killed him, Xavier transferred his consciousness to his brain-dead twin brother, (2) Magneto grafted new adamantium to Wolverine’s stumps, (3) um, time travel, something something mutants, stop asking questions, (4) he directed Rush Hour; we’ll give him a pass.
Do I need to sit through the end credits?
Not unless you just want to see who made the movie. No after-credit special features.
However, do not show up late thinking you’re just going to see your run-of-the-mill previews. After the regular trailers, right before the movie, there’s an extra special preview from a certain red leather-wearing “superhero” that you don’t want to miss.
Will I want to watch it again?
Probably, but you can wait until Blu-Ray / DVD / Digital. Logan was more depth and substance than eye candy, so another theater viewing is not necessary.
Randy Slavey lives near Denver, Colorado with his wife and two boys. When he’s not writing code, you can usually find him behind a camera or on a trail in the mountains. Or both.