Logan is going to be one of those films that people continue to rave about for a long time. Hugh Jackman doesn't hold back in his last hurrah in the X-Men franchise, delivering a performance that's as vulnerable as it is powerful.
Bereft of skin-tight superhero get-ups and the usual grandeur we've come to expect from other comic book movies, #Logan is rife with surprises. It defies expectations in all the right ways, and not only in terms of its own franchise.
In fact, what distinguishes Logan from films of its kind isn't the unbridled bloodshed or generous dose of swearing, but the very qualities that define its genre.
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Not Just Another Superhero Movie
To say that Logan isn't your typical superhero movie is somewhat of an understatement. Its unique premise allows it a lot more freedom to flex its adamantium claws, dipping in and out of various iconic film genres in a way no X-Men movie has before. But where Logan really ticks all the right boxes is as a road movie.
A road movie is a film that features a narrative based around a road trip. The trip itself is a metaphor for the personal, and self-growth is often the central theme of the genre. More often than not, the protagonists are running away from something. Think Thelma & Louise, Transamerica and Wristcutters: A Love Story.
As a superhero movie, Logan is great; but as a road movie, it's phenomenal. Here's why.
Warning: potential Logan spoilers ahead!
That Classic Desert Setting
Logan's location sets it apart from every other X-Men movie right from the get-go. The journey begins around the Mexico-Texas border, far from Professor X's lush New York mansion. As events are kicked into action, Logan, Laura and Professor X find themselves racing across the dust bowl of Texas, desperate to find safety in more fertile lands.
Like so many iconic road movies, the vast desert serves as a fitting metaphor for the journey that lies ahead. The hostile landscape is also an emblem of survival, with the three companions all struggling to stay alive with each new day. It's them against the world, and their harsh environment is a constant reminder of that.
Not only is the desert setting an appropriate nod to classic road movie conventions, but it perfectly compliments the tone of the film: an attempt at survival against the odds.
Superhero movies have quite the reputation for being a little cheesy— but hey, that's why we love them. It's perhaps Logan's lack of comic book clichés that helps it stand out from its superhero siblings. It still offers plenty of that trademark Wolverine humor whilst presenting its story in a decidedly mature light, but with noticeably minimal cheese.
Prolific amount of gore and violence aside, Logan is as raw as it could get. Gone are those trademark, well-maintained Wolverine mutton chops; instead, Logan is disheveled, weary, and rough. He looks exactly like you'd expect an alcoholic who sleeps in their car to look, and the chaotic road trip that awaits him only makes matters worse.
Look at the following comparison between Days of Future Past and Logan. The stark contrast can be attributed to more than just Logan's deteriorating body and age; it's a bold change in tone from the usual X-Men aesthetic:
The glamor and privilege of Professor X's estate is but a distant memory, with his fantastical manor and other spoils of his inheritance replaced by tacky hotel rooms and a rotation of used cars. It's this exact setting that echoes the real grit of the film. Like so many road movies before it, Logan presents a desperate situation in a context that's both relatable and wild.
It's About The Journey, Not The Destination
Ultimately, road movies aren't about getting chased down a dusty desert highway in a beat-up old car. Rather, the road itself provides a blank canvas for the introspective journey of the passengers.
This is definitely relevant to Logan. As Logan discovers, the destination Laura so desperately seeks probably doesn't exist outside of a fictional comic book. But still he presses forward, despite his initial objections. Their road trip evolves from a literal expedition to a search for personal redemption and even healing.
He won't admit it, but Logan wants to find something other than Eden. He wants to rediscover the man he once was, and possibly connect with his newfound daughter. He's driving towards a place called Eden, but what Logan's really looking for is salvation.
Loved Logan? Check out these Easter Eggs and references from the film: