Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most exciting events of the year, and not just for sports fans! There's no better prime-time opportunity for a film studio to drop a trailer.
More than 100 million viewers are gripped to their TVs during the Super Bowl, meaning a well-designed trailer has the potential to completely transform a film's box office performance. It's no surprise that Fox took advantage to release a haunting teaser for their upcoming X-Men movie, Logan, but what nobody expected was a haunting hymn:
Studios don't put together trailers at a whim; every detail is carefully chosen, and an iconic song like "Amazing Grace" is included to give you a sense of what the movie's about. So what does "Amazing Grace" tease about Logan?
1. Hugh Jackman's Swan Song Just Got More Ominous
As any #XMen fan will know all too well, Logan promises to be #HughJackman's swan song. He's been playing the part since 2000's X-Men, and he feels he's done everything he wants to do with it. One of the most tantalizing aspects of Logan, then, is the simple question: What will happen to Wolverine? Will this be the film where Wolverine finally dies?
This question casts Fox's use of "Amazing Grace" in a new light. It's a beautiful hymn, most commonly associated with funerals; back in 2015, President Obama turned to those stirring, famous lyrics when offering comfort to the grieving families of Charleston, South Carolina. So Fox has deliberately chosen to associate Logan with a funeral song. That's surely not a coincidence.
2. 'Like Me'
The trailer for Logan deliberately plays only part of the first verse, and then repeats two words:
The words are accompanied by a glimpse of Logan's hand held in that of X-23's, a none-too-subtle hint that Dafne Keen's X-23 is someone very much like Logan. As fans of the comics know, X-23 is actually a clone of Wolverine, created to be a living weapon. She is, as Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier said in an earlier trailer, "very much like" Logan himself.
But the words hint at something else, something far deeper. Combined with the funeral theme, they suggest that this song is about the passing of the torch; that Hugh Jackman is stepping out of his central role in the franchise, but that someone "like him" is being introduced as the next Wolverine-figure. The good news is that first reviews suggest that X-23's character may just well pull this off:
3. Redemption At Long Last
Amazing Grace is possibly the most popular hymn of all time, and there's a reason: it stands as a testimony to the possibility of transformation and change. The hymn was written by John Newton, a slave trader who found God when caught in a storm at sea in 1748. "Amazing Grace" is semi-autobiographical, in that it represents Newton's view of himself:
"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me..."
Here's the fascinating thing, though; Newton stayed a slave trader after his conversion, and was actually still a slave trader back when he wrote "Amazing Grace." It took years for his conscience, awakened by his faith, to lead him to the realization that slavery was wrong. When he did realize that, Newton abandoned the slave trade, and became an active campaigner against it.
This, then, is the reason that "Amazing Grace" is loved by Christians and non-Christians alike; it reminds us that even a slave trader can become an abolitionist, that even a "wretch" can be saved. But it doesn't just speak of an instant, dramatic, "Road-to-Damascus" transformation; the song's history declares that transformation can be gradual, that change is a process. So John Newton, having already penned these lyrics, can still come to realize the depths of his wretchedness, and cast it aside by the grace of God.
There's a very real sense in which the story of Wolverine has always been one of transformation. He's always battled against his own savage nature, trying to find honor and peace, trying to rediscover his humanity. Now X-23 will travel the same path.
Again, we've already seen hints of the father-daughter relationship Wolverine will have with X-23, where he challenges her and tells her when her brutal conduct is "not okay." Logan's challenge in this film is to take a girl who has been raised to be a weapon, and guide her into embracing her humanity. Not only is her journey informed by Logan's own, it is a dark mirror of it; in X-23's struggle to become human we see an echo of Logan's.
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As you can see, Fox knew what they were doing when they chose "Amazing Grace" for the trailer. This haunting, intimate song choice teases a very personal story, one in which we may well see a beloved hero die — but in which we may also bear witness to the rise of a new shining star.
Logan promises to be a superhero film like no other, one with unprecedented depth of character. This song choice reminds us just how different Logan really is, and in so doing reminds us just why we're so excited about this film!
Do you think X-23 will replace Hugh Jackman at the center of the X-Men franchise?
(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)