When the film adaptation of the Deadpool comics was released last year, audiences went wild. The idea that a major studio film would take risks seemed astounding. With the addition of some “fucks”, brief nudity, and extra blood, Deadpool was apparently some kind of cinematic goldmine. Of course, while the studio was taking a risk with the ratings board, they were not doing anything risky in terms of style nor storytelling. With the latest film in the X-Men universe, the Wolverine film Logan, we see filmmaker James Mangold building on Deadpool’s legacy of ultraviolence and language to assemble a film that is equally redundant.
Hugh Jackman once again stars as Wolverine (or Logan), but this time he’s ready to retract his claws. Poisoned by a virus that has wiped out most mutants, the aged Logan spends his days driving a fancy Uber and caring for a dying Charles Xavier aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart). Logan sees no desire to fight bad guys or save the world. Of course, when a group of thugs attack him in a parking lot, he is quick to whip out the claws and slice their faces open.
Now there’s a great story here. Very much in the vein of Frank Miller’s celebrated graphic novel, the idea of Logan coming to terms with being an aging hero is promising. This is really what we get for the first twenty or so minutes of the film and it’s surprisingly refreshing. So tired of superhero cliché, I was ready to applaud mid-film. Of course, the words “innovative” and “superhero film” haven’t gone together since Christopher Nolan’s DC days. So, Mangold introduces Laura (Dafne Keen) a young mutant who just may be Logan’s daughter. Like Logan, she’s got the claws and is in need of protection. So, to keep her from the grasps of an evil doctor (Richard E. Grant, phoning it in), Logan and Xavier buckle up for the ultimate road trip to the Canadian boarder. On the way, Logan grumbles and Professor X imparts some wisdom. They also relax in a fancy hotel room to watch the 1953 Western-classic Shane, which the film mercilessly mimics minutes later. When Laura and Logan fight together, we’re treated to what seems more like Mangold doing Kick-Ass than Miller. Eventually, the violence becomes overbearing, exchanging shock for schlock.
Change is nice. Offer me the chance to watch a superhero film that doesn’t follow the step-by-step guides of the recent exports of the Avenger’s universe films and I’ll take it. But as Stephen Sondheim wrote, nice is different than good. So, it’s nice that Hugh Jackman does not have to make another Wolverine film. Good for him. Good for us.