Is ‘Logan’ The Best X-Men Movie?

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The Last of Wolverine

No, I don’t think Logan is the greatest comic-book movie since The Dark Knight (which isn’t even great to begin with). But it’s probably the best X-Men movie yet. I used to agree with the general consensus that X2 was the best of the lot, but Logan is also a remarkable movie and it gets Wolverine right. And that for me, says a lot.

While the first two X-Men movies by were generally well-loved by both critics and fans, I’ve always find them lacking. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto respectively, brought gravitas to these surprisingly earnest comic book movies (the much maligned third movie had actually more fun to offer, especially with Juggernaut, Mystique and Multiple Man). Hugh Jackman took the role of Wolverine, and made a career playing the fierce but sensitive mutant from Canada. Unfortunately, the other supposedly key characters (Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Beast) were sidelined, and nearly forgettable. While Rebecca Romijn, in her very physical and almost dialogue-free role as Mystique, steals the show from almost every one of them. Sure, Bryan Singer has style, but it’s a style that muted the colors and voices of these supposedly motley crew of outsiders.

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Yes, these movies touch on relevant issues (i.e., xenophobia, LGBT). But so did the comics and the ’90s cartoons, which, arguably did better doing so than the movies. In fact, that is only to be expected of these movies. What I did not expect was how Wolverine-centered they were. Were they called Wolverine and the X-Men, I won’t be complaining how the rest of team didn’t get to do much. Also, I thought these movies were just too serious for their own good. Logan was allowed to make jokes, but at the expense of the other characters, like Cyclops and Beast, who were both badly underwritten. And sometimes, the seriousness lapses into something silly, unintentionally (i.e., X-Men‘s amusing third act fight scenes, Prof. X saying goodbye to Cyclops in X2 (couldn’t Jean talk to Scott directly?))

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Same can’t be said of Logan, Hugh Jackman’s third solo and final outing as Wolverine. While James Mangold’s film has a setting similar to Days of Future Past—takes place in the future, the few remaining mutants hiding, hunted—Logan works as a kind of post-apocalyptic drama, where the fancy stuff in Future Past—the Sentinels, time travel, Warpath, Bishop and Fan Bingbing (characters I’d love to see in another movie) never happened. Here, Logan is old, his body’s regenerative ability is failing, and he drives a limo to buy medicine for an aging Prof. X to keep him from killing half the world’s population with his Alzheimer’s-inflicted brain. Think of it as a movie about old people taking care of old people, them sticking together, wading through the odds.

xmen3I know that for a lot of people Hugh Jackman is Logan/Wolverine. For me, his “too pretty, too soft” portrayal of the man with adamantium claws, secret past and weird hairstyle, is one of the many things past X-Men movies didn’t get right. The hurt look on his face, his full of guilt “I really hate killing people” facial expression every-time he fights, had always run in contrast to the Wolverine I grew up with. You see, I’m more into that “Come and get me, Bub” kind of guy, the bad-ass berserker who relish cutting anything with his claws, and hides the pain behind that nasty grin, instead of showing it.

Jackman’s portrayal makes Wolverine look vulnerable, much more than Cyclops, Jean Grey or Storm, but that doesn’t make his character complex, rather contradictory. Why? Because vulnerability should be the last thing one should expect from a mutant who’s lived hundred years, fought and survived countless wars and is nearly unkillable. Wolverine should be more like the T-800 than Harry Potter, but Jackman’s Logan is closer to the latter.

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Gaaad! I really hate killing people.

What I’m really trying to say is, finally, here’s a movie where Hugh Jackman’s softhearted and world-weary Wolverine fits and belongs to. A movie that has enough drama to justify the R-Rated violence. A movie that has the proper tone and weight to tackle intolerance, violence, and inequalities. If you take away the part where an evil corporation experiments on mutants, it’s hardly a superhero/comic book movie.

And that’s why the best part of the movie isn’t the final showdown between Logan and his clone X-24 (also played by Hugh Jackman). Nor is it the father-daughter relationship between him and Laura/X-23. (Actually, when Logan tried to push her away, it brings to mind bad memories from The Last Stand i.e., Dark Phoenix, the Logan-Jean Grey romance.) The best part of the movie happens in the farm, when Prof. X, Logan and Laura were accepted as guests by a family they helped in a traffic accident. Prof. X finally felt home (after a long time, here he is under one roof with the humans he spent his life protecting) while Laura befriends the teenage boy in the family. Logan on the other hand tried to reciprocate their kindness by helping them get rid of the greedy farmers from the nearby corporate farm. It touches on a number of relevant issues and while it ends with ultraviolence, it’s one of those fights where blood, death, and violence, really meant something.

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Logan (James Mangold, 2017)

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I don’t get this bias towards serious comic book movies. A movie has some convincingly Oscar-worthy drama, then all of a sudden it’s the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. People heap praises on these two movies yet no one bothers to mention Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan’s subdued superhero drama and follow-up to his more popular debut The Sixth Sense. Why cream your pants over Logan and not Deadpool? When Deadpool had more success at being irreverently funny than Logan did with its sob story. Don’t get me wrong, Logan is a fine movie. It probably has the most memorable portrayal of both Logan and Charles Xavier in all of X-Men movies. Logan’s old, resigned, half the beast he used to be while Xavier’s annoying, old, and sick, which makes him more dangerous. And I liked the dynamics between these two characters (the plot concerning the young mutants, not so much); like in the scene where Xavier needs to take a leak. And with a little detour, it is able to give what should have been the true essence of every X-Men movie—humans and mutants—which made the movie for me. But the movie’s really about X-23, old man Logan, and their kind of forced father-daughter drama, and those other young mutants—it is more than OK, but nothing to get too crazy about.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood, 2009)

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When it comes to the worse Marvel-based movies, the B-grade X-Men Origins: Wolverine is easily among the front-runners. As a comic-book movie, Wolverine is one serious offender. It has no regards for a lot of things: the first X-Men movie (where Sabretooth appeared), the Weapon X series, the other X-Men characters (i.e., Gambit, Deadpool). But outside its irreverence, is a somewhat tightly constructed B-movie (particularly the first half) that knows its own thrills. If you think about it, the story was nothing more than a silly excuse to get Logan in Wolverine-mode. As a low budget action movie (they didn’t even bother to get back Brian Cox to play Stryker), it actually works—kind of. While there are still plenty to ask for in Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine (he’s too soft, too pretty), at least his own movie is so bad—ass; not only does it cut its ties with both comics and other X-Men movies with ease (talk about the script’s adamantium quality), it also almost killed and forever shut-up the one exciting character that Fox has: the snarky anti-hero known as Merc with a Mouth.

Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016)

PhotoGrid_1467207022180Midway through the film’s title sequence, it occurred to me – this could be the Captain Deadpool and the Oily Grail of all comic book and superhero movies! Only, it didn’t turn out to be.

Minutes later, Deadpool segues into the highway scene we’re already familiar with – the one where he jumps into a van full of bad guys who in the hands of the Merc with a Mouth, will soon suffer or die in outrageously violent and sometimes funny ways. From there, Deadpool goes about his origin story through a few flashbacks, encounters the two X-men who would become his sidekicks and then assures the audience that his movie is actually a love story. Much like Peter Parker’s story years before, this is also about a girl – Vanessa, played the very hot Morena Baccarin.

It’s definitely inferior to Spider-Man, but it is also lots of fun. Deadpool is irreverent, self-aware, shockingly juvenile and does with plenty of violence. Our titular character also breaks the fourth wall every once in a while. That said, it still feels lacking and tame in some way as compared to some recent films of the genre. James Gunn’s Super is far crazier; his Guardians of the Galaxy has that one sequence that’s infinitely funnier than anything here (not to mention that it’s followed by a touchingly poignant final battle). In terms of action and violence, Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass is more, uhm, kickass – fluid camerawork, great choreography and a boss fight that’s brutal as fuck. And despite Deadpool‘s hard R-Rating, the nudity is of the blink-and-you-miss-it variety. No, exposed butt doesn’t count.

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Okay, Deadpool may not have that many wow moments, but on the plus side, the fight scenes are mostly coherent – better than in any of those Michael Bay atrocities, better than the expertly choreographed, but poorly shot and badly edited fight scenes we saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

For what it is, which is an adequately faithful adaptation of the comics, Deadpool is ultramega OK. “The real heroes here” did a fine job taking from a variety of source materials, putting in the right amount of Deadpool-ness they need and adding their own sensibilities to come up with their own definitive version of the fourth-wall breaking Merc. The result is a film that ticks all the fanboys’ check boxes and hardly strays from the character’s established conventions, which are not quite conventional – at least within the current trend in comic book movie adaptations.

Of all the in-jokes and pop culture references here, his jab at Hugh Jackman/Wolverine is the one I like the most. A character Fox love so much – Wolverine appeared on almost every X-Men movie and pretty much shoved everyone else to the sidelines. And yet, six movies in and Wolverine still has to make one memorable onscreen kill.

Deadpool – 10, Wolverine – 0

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