SPOILER ALERT: This article contains plenty of details you would probably not want to read if you haven’t seen Logan yet. SECOND SPOILER ALERT: Logan is absolutely incredible, and arguably one of the greatest comic book movies of all time – if not the greatest – so I have no idea why would not have seen it yet!
There’s a lot of you can talk about when it comes to Logan. So let’s just start right at the end… specifically the ending of the film, which saw Hugh Jackman’s titular mutant getting the finest send off possible: Giving his life to protect his “daughter” Laura against the evil corporation out to get her and her fellow young mutants. Based on the fact that this movie was widely advertised as Jackman’s very last showing as the X-Man, it should come as no surprise that Logan actually dies at the end of the film. And yet when Laura eventually lays him to rest with an X crucifix, it still hit most fans pretty hard in the emotions.
And speaking to THR, screenwriter Scott Frank explained how and director/co-writer James Mangold managed to still tap into that emotion despite it being such a “predictable” turn of events.
We just kept going back to character and his relationship with his “father” and his relationship with someone who is genetically created, but is still technically his daughter. We kept it personal the whole time. That’s really what we were obsessed with. You could feel it as we were writing it — that it was accruing to something powerful at the end.
That “father” is of course none other that Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier. Fans were hit with a double whammy as Stewart revealed just a week before Logan’s release that he had also changed his mind and decided to call it quits playing the character, and then was surprisingly killed off in the film as well. Before that though, the film spends a lot of time building up the tender relationship between Xavier and Logan as they bond like a normal family at a farmhouse, so that when the former’s sudden death happens it’s definitely shocking, but still a very graceful exit for the character. And totally handled a hell of a lot better than when Xavier last bit the dust in the much-maligned, and now retconned out of existence X-Men 3: The Last Stand.
I don’t know if we consciously tried to do that, but I do know in the middle of the movie, we kept feeling this desire to have this respite, where for 30 seconds they can have this life that is never available to them. But they can have it for a couple of hours and it’s a cruel, cruel detour. We thought there could be a lot of emotion there. And it could be a way of also ending Professor X’s story — with the most normal family in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.
That wasn’t the only surprise in the movie though, as the agent of both Logan and Charles’ death is of course revealed to be X-24, a darker, more powerful clone of Logan himself under the control of the Transigen corporation. While an “evil twin” plot might seem a bit too comic book-ish for a movie that does everything it possibly can to dodge comic book movie genre conventions, there’s actually a metaphorical reason for X-24: Logan literally has to face the younger, bloodthirsty killer version of himself that he’s trying to atone for.
It was an interesting thing — for him to be confronted with himself. It reminds him of what he once was. He was not a good guy. But we didn’t want to make a meal out of it. You have to be careful that that doesn’t become the concept through the whole movie, because then it does exactly the opposite of what we were trying to do.
And Frank and Mangold know all about that. The duo were the very same team behind 2015’s The Wolverine, which also went for a more grim and mature take on the X-Men… only for it to completely lose the plot in a cartoonish final act complete with giant samurai robot and a snake lady. Frank himself has gone on record to indicate that he wasn’t satisfied with how that movie turned out. He’s (obviously) much happier with Logan though, and explains why this second crack at the character worked out so much better.
We didn’t have to connect it to any larger “universe.” Or, as [James Mangold] keeps saying, “We didn’t have to sell Happy Meals.” And so that was great. Whereas, the last one, my favorite part is where he’s in the middle of rural Japan and with this woman and being a human being and feeling what it’s like to be a human being. But we’re not there very long before we’re back to giant robots and stuff. And then it becomes just another superhero movie with a lot of CG stuff. And we were trying to avoid that this time around, and the studio had changed studio heads and they were very much into the idea of trying something new, because otherwise, what’s the point? The only way these movies have value is if they become about something else. They can’t all be about saving the world.
Yes, personal stories that don’t just rely on spectacle actually resonate with audiences. Big shock, right?! And in Logan, that personal story draws a lot of influence from famous 1950s Western Shane. A lot of influence. Logan doesn’t just share thematic parallels about a killer trying to live with who he is, but it even features characters watching Shane while in a hotel room, and then even has Laura (Dafne Keen) quote one of the film’s most famous passages as a eulogy when burying Logan. How did that huge bit of inspiration come about?
[James] and I both love Westerns. In the last movie [The Wolverine], we talked about Outlaw Josey Wales a lot. In this movie, we talked about Unforgiven a lot. And I just finished making a six-hour Western. So I’m obsessed with the Western genre. The plot doesn’t mirror Shane’s plot, but Shane is a bit of a superhero. Coming into town and taking care and vanquishing the bad guys and leaving. I always thought that was a really interesting idea, and having her quote the movie and having something she can connect to with Prof. X was something Jim very early on started playing with. And it became great in the larger thematic sense.
“There are no more guns in the valley.” It’s all apropos of what’s happening in Logan. We also liked the idea that she didn’t know what to say at his funeral, so she’s going to quote the movie. Which is interesting, the same way they are using comic books, they are going to a place they think are going to keep them safe, because they read it in a comic book. All of that stuff I think is really interesting to play with.
And all made for one hell of a movie! Now that Deadpool and Logan – two R-rated comic book movies that work as standalone pieces, and where the creators were almost given free reign to achieve their visions – have become the most successful recent entries in the X-Men franchise by far, you have to wonder what Fox is going to do next. Whatever it is, it definitely won’t involve Jackman who took to social media over the weekend for to thank all the fans who supported him over the 17 years he’s been playing this character.