The more I read about how bleak and wonderful Logan is, the more I put off watching it. Was I ready to see an old, weakened, weary Wolverine scraping by as a limo driver? Or worse, an old, fragile Professor Xavier with dementia? Or a broken-down world of the near future where the other X-Men are dead and institutions are at the beck and call of evil corporations? Dammit, why is pop culture so political now that even popcorn movies remind us of the mess we’re in? Whatever happened to escapist feelgood movies where all we had to worry about was whether A would get together with B—oh right, we don’t want to watch those because most of them are idiotic.
But I couldn’t not see Logan. And as I sat there watching Hugh Jackman, even ropier than usual, in the role that he has embodied so well in ten movies, many of which did not deserve him; the great Patrick Stewart as King Lear as Prof. X; Stephen Merchant as Caliban, illustrating my belief that if you want to get the job done exactly right, cast a comedian; and the mostly silent but brilliantly expressive Dafne Keen as young Laura, I thought: Why should we be so upset that our superheroes have grown old? We’re older—it’s seventeen years since the first X-Men movie with Stewart and Jackman. Everybody grows old. Age and death will get us all, but as Logan demonstrates we can tell age and death to go fuck themselves.
Logan is Wolverine unleashed onscreen for the first time, the Wolverine of the best timelines in the comics—ill-tempered, brutal, unwilling to join the fight but doing the right thing anyway. And paying for it—he may regenerate, but he feels all the pain. James Mangold’s superhero western, with its homage to Shane, left me exhausted but exhilarated. The good guys may be in hiding, on the run, isolated and mocked, but they’re around and they will do what they must.
Plus I really like the explanation of how the mutation is manifested in the female.
Don’t take your kids to see Logan, no matter how they insist. This X-Men movie is for you. If you grew up in the peak Chris Claremont era of X-Men, it may feel like the end of your (over-long) childhood. You are your own mutant now.