By Kirstin Steitz
More of Kirstin’s writing and rambling can be found at her blog, Oh My Foes.
WARNING: SPOILERS, SWEETIE...
We’re all grown-ups here (probably?) so I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this entry, you’ve seen the movie or don’t care if I spoil plot points for you. This is your only warning and I will not suffer fools.
That said, OMG HAVE YOU SEEN LOGAN??? Y’ALL, OMG. I went to see this movie with my partner and when it was over, I just kind of stared at the screen. It was like they brutally murdered my childhood, but somehow did it in a way that I felt good about?
When we are first introduced to Logan, he has aged. Oh my, has he aged. He is broken, healing poorly, and coughing like he has lung cancer. He still has that vicious, animal fight in him, but he’s hanging on to life by a thread. It is not a Logan we are used to seeing. When he murders that gang trying to hijack his limo, it’s immediately heartbreaking because it is so obvious that he is not the Wolverine of our childhood. He is no longer this gruff, virile, beardy-man of adamantium. This isn’t the man competing with poster-boy Scott Summers for Jean Grey’s affection. This is not the man who befriended a young Rogue.
This is not a man who thinks about affection at all. This is a haggard, beaten-down version of our favorite X-man. In that very first scene, I thought to myself, “So obvs they will find a way to cure him and he will find a new lease on life!” Boy, could I have been more wrong? This movie is about Logan’s spiritual redemption and his tireless dedication and loyalty to Charles. This is also a movie about family, chosen and blood, and about doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.
When the kindly farmer who took their mismatched family in for a hot meal and the night then saved Logan by plowing into Project X-24 (IE, Soulless Logan Clone), then turned around and tried to shoot real Logan, I thought Do it. I would do it. I would shoot him. Because you know what? If I let some man into my house, fed him dinner and pie, and then his drama clone came in and murdered my whole fucking family, I would shoot his ass too. More heart-breaking? You can see in his eyes that Logan fully expects and wants the farmer to shoot him. Family protects family and that message is pounded into our heads over and over.
Throughout the movie, Logan is attempting to come to grips with his daughter’s existence, to accept her place in his life and heart; a heart that has only had room and energy for keeping the Charles alive after the extermination of mutants and Charles neurodegenerative disease. There is no denying the love between Charles and Logan. Even in the end there is love, even though it’s tempered by disappointment and a deep sadness, it’s obvious that both men would give their very lives for each other. Logan throws himself constantly into danger just in order to keep Charles alive. It is powerful to see a comic book movie where there is such a deep and complex relationship between two men that isn’t just about kicking ass and taking names.
But we don’t see Logan accept Laura fully until nearly the end of the movie. When we meet his daughter, Project X-23, the incredible Laura, we know (and Charles knows) he will eventually and reluctantly help her. We just know that underneath that beardy beard and his gruff monosyllabic answers, Logan is a big old softy. He just has way more baggage than most. The first time he tries to leave her in an attempt to save Charles, he witnesses her fight off the Transigen corp toughs with wicked claws on her hands and feet, and begins to realize who she is, and after that point, doesn’t leave her again. We do see Wolfie prioritize Charles during the farm fight, but he doesn’t leave with the mortally-wounded Charles, he stays to fight for Laura after he gets his mentor/father-figure into the truck.
In the pivotal moment towards the end of the movie, where Laura confronts Logan and makes it clear that she doesn’t believe he cares for her and that he can basically fuck off, you can see that this powerful girl is crushed by the world, by her father’s rejection, by her ongoing persecution at the hands of Transigen Corp, the death of so many of her friends in the lab and of Gabrielle, her nurse and the woman who helped save her from Transigen Corp. You see him come out of his own pain for a moment and recognize that despite her claws, her adept martial art skills, and how generally badass she is, she’s still a little girl. She’s still the child who wanted those flowery sunglasses from the gas station. She was made into a brutal weapon, just as he was. She’s his daughter in more than blood, and he is contributing to her pain. When he realizes she won’t make it to Canada and that she is in mortal danger, as well as all of her friends, he doesn’t even hesitate to go to her aid.
In the end, he sacrifices himself so that Laura and her mutant friends can make it to safety in Canada. He dies so that they can live. This movie is not relighting the torch, but passing it on to future generations. This point is also significant, because who are the future generations? They are bilingual, racially diverse, with well-developed female characters. This is significant, especially as Marvel recently stated that diversity isn’t selling comics, yet they give us a movie that is literally about how two old white men save a generation of diverse mutants so that they can hopefully thrive and help others. Ultimately, a bleak present-day with a hopeful future built on family and love. That’s a big squishy message (wrapped in lots of decapitations) I can get behind.