Logan: The “Batman Begins” of the Wolverine Movies


It is truly unfortunate that it took until 2005’s Batman Begins for Hollywood to understand that comics aren’t all funny; people will watch a serious adaptation of serious material, with gore, and pain, and emotion, and actual human suffering.  What made Batman Begins unique and a turning point in super hero adaptation is that it took Batman seriously.  It wasn’t the camp of the Michael-Keaton-through-George-Clooney Batmen, it wasn’t the parody of the Adam West Batman; it was Bruce Wayne, a young man stricken with grief so powerful that it shaped his perspective on the world and set him off on a psychotic crusade against crime for the rest of his life.  You read some of the Frank Miller Batman graphic novels, you understand that it’s not some higher sense of altruism that drives him; it’s revenge, psychosis, and a razor sharp sense of justice that is at the core of Batman.

And, like Batman Begins, Logan finally gets it right with Wolverine, who, at his very core, is about transcending that for which he was created, struggling to reconcile his grotesque crimes, and the responsibility he feels for the things that happen to the people around him.  He’s like … a much more fucked up Stitch, from Lilo and Stitch, with a lot more trauma, grief, pain, and killing.  It’s supposed to be ironic that the character who was essentially created in a lab yearns to be the most human of all the X-Men, the one who struggles the most with the mutant agenda, his past, and his actions.  He’s Frankenstein’s monster, with mutant healing factor.

Don’t get me wrong, the R-rating really helped.  It’s hard to understand why a guy with healing powers, an indestructible skeleton, enhanced strength and agility, and cat claws belongs on a superhero team with people who can shoot lasers out their eyes and control the weather.  But from the first scene, where he relieves a few people of their limbs and faces, you finally get to viscerally understand what they mean by “berserker rage.”  Like Deadpool, had all the Wolverine movies been done as R-rated, it would have allowed the directors and Hugh Jackman to really fully explore the character, who, at every turn, struggles to create normalcy in a life full of the deaths of anyone close to him, continually being hunted and experimented on, and a really murky past.  There was nothing nice about Wolverine’s life, and I think what Logan got right was showing just how much he wanted out of it.  I thought the most poignant part was when Xavier implored him to enjoy the quiet moments of peace and joy and family while he still had them, despite knowing full well that his plan was to either literally sail off into the sunset or kill himself.  If you’ve read any Wolverine comic books, you’ll know he rarely got to enjoy any of the nice parts of life, despite desperately searching for them.

So while the movie wasn’t perfect – it was probably too long, they killed him in a way that doesn’t ever happen, and they took liberties with the “Old Man Logan” material (out of necessity) and created another story not in the comics – I actually loved Logan.  I haven’t watched any of the other Wolverine movies, simply because of the treatment they gave him in the X-Men movies, but I’m glad I watched this one.  It was a good send-off for Jackman and Patrick Stewart; watching them as old men, bitching at each other and facing their mortality not only gave the movie the human gravitas it revolved around, but also served as a reminder that these men got old in front of us, that Patrick Stewart is in his 70s and Hugh Jackman in his 50s.  It was bittersweet to see the culmination of their work, roles that they wouldn’t have been able to play 20 years ago because they hadn’t inhabited the characters long enough.  I look forward to the inevitable reboot of Wolverine, now that Logan happened; I can’t wait to see his story treated with the same kind of seriousness as was done here.

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