Let’s Talk (spoilers) About: Logan!

If you haven’t seen Logan yet, check out this spoiler-free review. But don’t read this. Because this is the post for talking about all the specific things we liked, the things we didn’t like, and — most importantly — the things that made us feel all the things.

In other words, spoilers EVERYWHERE.

logan laura
Laura (Dafne Keen) and Logan (Hugh Jackman) in “Logan.”

Let’s just start right off with the violence. The first time Logan shoved his claws through some guy’s face and they popped back out his skull, I thought WOW. This is something else. But then he did it a dozen or so more times and the novelty wore off. It really started to feel less like “Look what Logan has to do to get out of this situation,” and more like “Look what we can do now that we have an R rating!”

So, I know there were a bunch of people who were very keen to finally get their bloody Wolverine, but for my money it was the least interesting thing about the movie. But I was very impressed with Dafne Keen’s Laura. Her character is probably just as violent — or more so — than Logan, but it’s more tasteful. At least, it is when she’s not rolling a severed head like a bowling ball. Probably because nobody really wants to watch children murder people in gory detail.

But violence aside, Keen really did well. She spends half her role in silence, but I never once questioned what was going on in her head. I particularly liked when she was eating cereal at Logan’s bunker, just crunching along until she stops, hears something and then just gets this look. Like she knows what’s about to go down. And then she continues to eat her cereal, entirely unconcerned about it. Loved it. And it kind of leads me to my next point.

The funny bits

And I do mean bits. I’d say each moment of funny in Logan can be measured in seconds, with the longest being the “Not OK!” trailer fodder that is probably largely responsible for endearing this movie to people in advance.

But I also got a laugh out of the scene where Charles is talking to Laura who’s kind of freaking out because there’s some rumbling going on and he’s like “It’s okay! It’s just a train! It’s a choo-choo!” And Logan just pops in with a matter-of-fact “It’s not a choo-choo.”

And what’s left after that? Um…Logan waking up strapped to a board and being hauled up the side of a mountain? That was a millisecond of funny. And okay, a gaggle of kids giving him his Wolverine beardcut was cute. Depending on your frame of mind, the bowling ball head could be funny, and I did like the Alkali Transigen hunter’s oh-shit “No. No.” moment when Laura walked up ready to brawl, but that too was given up in the trailer.

It’s just really not a funny movie. But it wasn’t meant to be, so that’s okay.

Father-daughter moments

logan laura posterThe Logan and Laura parts of this really weren’t what I was expecting.  Between the trailer and the poster of her little hand in his and stills I’d seen of him carrying her around, I expected him — after some reluctance and prodding — to accept her and the situation by the midpoint and really care for her by the end. It would kind of fit with his treatment of Rogue in the first X-Men movie but have an added layer of meaning.

But in reality he resisted her every step of the way. At best, it seemed like he felt a growing sense of responsibility for her, but mainly because we don’t let shadowy groups make monsters out of little kids. And in a way, I think that’s fine. I might have enjoyed the other scenario more, but this fits with the Logan that is presented to us in this movie. I don’t hate that it went that way at all.

BUT.

Knowing that they never really had much of a relationship beyond keeping each other alive does diminish her anguished cries of “Daddy! Daddy!” as Logan dies. I mean, sure it’s super sad, but it’s sad for me because I have a dad and empathy’s a thing, not because the movie earned sad feelings with its strong relationships. At least, not in this regard.

Logan and Charles

Now, if you want to talk about sadness that’s earned, this is where you do it. The burial for Charles — and Logan’s choked “It’s got water” — just broke my heart into tiny little pieces and then ground those pieces into dust. And I was already feeling things from when X-24 stabbed Charles, Logan got there, and the first thing he says as he pulls Charles close is “It wasn’t me.” Like, a family just died all around you, and there’s another you running around doing the killing, and you just don’t want an old man to think you were mad at him?

lennie george mice and men
George (Gary Sinise) and Lennie (John Malkovich) in “Of Mice and Men.”

And don’t get me started on Charles’ last words being about the Sunseeker they were going to buy to live on the water. It was like Lennie and the rabbits all over again. Not that Logan had to pull an “Of Mice and Men” situation, but just that happiness Lennie had for the idea George put in his head of getting their own little acre of land with rabbits  — that’s kind of what Charles and the Sunseeker felt like.

But I loved all these moments that showed what Charles and Logan meant to each other. (And, relatedly, what Laura meant to Charles, who jumped on the doting grandpa train long before they needed it for a cover). They were necessary after the rough start both characters got, but I ALSO wouldn’t have had that any other way. Charles and Logan were both under tremendous stress in the film’s open and as it progressed. Because being ill is hard! Being a caregiver is hard! And it’s hard even before you add the extra layer of mutant-ness and uncontrollable psychic destruction, and I love that the movie didn’t shy away from that at all.

And though it was a small thing, I really appreciated that the movie took its time as they were escaping the casino to show us Logan putting Charles in the truck and then hauling his wheelchair into the back. It would have been easy to cut around it, and few people probably would have batted an eye. But showing that moment not only added to their frenzied attempt to stay ahead of trouble, it was also just a relatable moment for anyone who’s ever had a family member who uses a wheelchair.

Miscellaneous moments

Horses!: I’m sure somewhere the people who cut and approved the “Logan” trailers are pointing and laughing all “Haha! You thought ‘Someone will come along’/’Someone has’ was about Laura! Psych! It’s about these loose horses running amok along the highway after a wreck! Heeheehee!”And I’m not too mad about that. Thematically, it would have made perfect sense being about Laura, but having it be about the horses not only propelled the film into its next act, it also gave us that wonderful moment of Charles being able to peacefully use his powers to do good for what seemed like the first time in a long time.

Don’t be what they made you: Logan’s final message to Laura worked for me. He’s got a few lifetimes of experience under his belt as a killing machine built by people who wanted to use him, and hearing him urge Laura away from that path makes sense.

There are no more guns in the valley: Honestly, I was less moved by all of that. Sure, it was nice seeing 90-year-old Charles share a favorite movie from his youth with 11-year-old Laura, but the long lingering shots and clips from “Shane” just made it so very obvious that it’d be making a comeback. At first, I thought Laura’s first real words would be a recitation of the benediction in the movie’s funeral at Charles’ gravesite, and when that didn’t happen, I figured it’d be the “no more guns” line at some point.  And it’s not like it wasn’t fitting or appropriate. It was both of those things. It was also distractingly predictable.

Alternative stories

I think I’ve pretty much covered everything in the movie that I really wanted to talk about. It was a good movie, and I liked its broad strokes and a lot of its detail work. At its core, I wouldn’t change what “Logan” is, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t prompt a bunch of “but what if THIS” thoughts from me. So, here are all those thoughts that fanfic is made for.

Family road trip: If this were a TV show, I feel like a lot of time would have been spent with Charles, Logan and Laura adopting the role of grandfather/father/daughter to get by and eventually actually feeling like that family. And honestly, I’d argue Charles and Logan are already there, but seeing it put into words at the farmhouse gave me life. I don’t actually need happy sunshine domestic fluff in an AU where Alkali Transigen wasn’t a factor (though, I might not say no to it), but I would love MORE of that family dynamic.

Logan leads them: Yeah, yeah. Hugh Jackman wants to eat real food and move on from this role after nearly two decades. But if he didn’t! If he didn’t, I think it would have been awesome for him to reluctantly follow the young mutants into Canada out of some sense of duty and eventually accept his role as guardian/mentor for them.  All the killing he’s done left a brand sure, but this could be his opportunity to channel his inner Charles and not let that brand define him.

The odd couple: I want backstory for Logan and Caliban. Because honestly, I need to know how they all ended up living in a desert in Mexico.

X: Some might call it cheesy, but I loved Laura’s turning of Logan’s gravesite cross into an X. But I also liked Magneto blocking Apocalypse’s way with a giant X made of I-beams in that movie, so.

What’s next?

I kind of want to watch all the movies now. It’s been so long since I’ve seen X-Men, only a little less long since I’ve seen X2, and I’ve never seen The Wolverine. I was also thinking I might ignore all the inconsistencies that make the movies in the X-verse not really fit together that well and try to do a chronological rather that release-date viewing, and I’m trying to decide what that looks like. I think I’ve settled in on something like this:

X-Men First Class – Charles and Erik sitting in a tree building their school.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men/X2: X-Men United/X-Men: Last Stand/The Wolverine

X-Men: Days of Future Past – I put this here even though the past bits fit between First Class and Origins because there’s no Jean Grey in the DoFP opening future, and we learn that in X3, Charles had really done a number on her brain trying to keep her powers under control. My thinking is that everything that happened in the past only went down the way it did because Logan went back in time. Without the travel, eventually, Charles would have cleaned himself up, restarted his school and led into X1-X3, making all the mistakes we saw with Jean in X3. But with Logan’s arrival, things changed and Young Charles got new perspective from his experience of trying to mold Raven into the person he thought she should be, which affected how he treated Jean and led to the re-written future at movie’s end.

X-Men: Apocalypse – You kind of have to handwave how Scott’s story changed between X-Men Origins and X-Men Apocalypse as some sort of butterfly effect from Days of Future Past, but I don’t think that’s the worst thing that could happen.  Also, Charles and Erik end on good terms, which can explain how we get them working together in the future bits of DofP. 

Logan – If you assume this is a future spun forward from the future we saw at the end of Days of Future Past, you basically have to just assume that the thirty years between the 90s and the 2020s went down similarly enough to bring Logan to Xavier’s school, but different enough to avoid a lot of the X2/X3 drama. And then “Logan” lightly connects the dots for what happened after that, what with the mutterings of the Westchester incident. But…you can’t really put Logan anywhere else for the obvious reason of literally everybody is dead by the end.

You know, as I did this (and then re-did it when I realized I was incorrect about when X-Men Origins took place), the difficulty of trying to mash all these movies together into a universe isn’t THAT bad. Some of it’s just cosmetic — for instance, using CGI-faced “younger Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen” in Origins and X3 when the First Class trilogy wasn’t even a real idea yet, let alone cast with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender. And Some of it maybe plays a little fast and loose with the amount of time that passes and the events that could believably happen in that in-between time. But I’m just not too bothered by that.

And while there’s a part of me that would like to rip apart all the movies that used flashbacks and flash-forwards and changed timelines and stitch them back together into a truly chronological (if not a little odd) work, I can’t do that. But I am excited to try this viewing order.

Of course, I don’t know when I’ll find time for this, since I’ve watched all of zero movies for the 2017 Movie Challenge and I’m back to being behind on some of my shows again, but hey. Summer’s only three months away.

Leisure Time is on Twitter! Follow @theLTtweet for post updates and smaller thoughts.

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