Logan (2017)

The New Mutants:




Back in the early ‘eighties I picked up a few copies of a mini-series called Wolverine that was drawn by Frank Miller.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about new X-man.  I remember that there was a scene where the berserk title character tore through a crowd of men, ripping and slashing with those famous adamantium claws.

At the end of the sequence there’s a voiceover caption of him saying:  ‘They’re lucky they’re still breathing’.

I could never really take him seriously after that.  With the way this guy was ripping into human flesh, no one should have been left alive.  No one.  But…we had that little Comics Code to keep in with.  It completely neutered the character, in my opinion. (Nobody else’s, mind.  Heh.)   And on top of that, his habit of saying ‘pun’kin’ and ‘bullspit’ all the time began to seriously bug the shit out of me.

Well, forget all the Code-approved stuff of that long-ago era:  right from the start of the X-men film series in 2000 Hugh Jackman has made the Wolverine his own, now having played him nine times throughout this terrific run – and with James Mangold’s Logan he gives a stylish final bow-out to the icon with a film that goes for a 16 Rating, allowing him to really exit with the unsheathed claws stained a deep crimson.  In fact, it is surely one of the most violent comic book adaptations ever made.

It also must be one of the most world-weary.  Inertia drips off the screen for much of the time as an older Logan goes about his job as a limousine driver and attending to the 90 + Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has been responsible for the deaths of many of the world’s mutants due to the increasingly unstable nature of his telepathic gifts.

This is one of the reasons that he’s being hunted by a group called the Reavers, led by charismatic bad-guy Donald Peirce (Boyd Holbrook).  The good professor is the less-than-happy owner of ‘a degenerative disease in the world’s most dangerous brain.’  In fact, his mind has been classified as a Weapon of Mass Destruction, which makes you wonder if the Reavers should maybe include in their gang George Bush and Tony Blair, until you remember that they only went after imaginary WMDs.

The radio tells us that ‘it’s 2025, so why are we still talking about mutants?’  And there’s nothing wrong with my ears; that’s what it said, so I’m ignoring the releases that say it is set in 2029.   To tell you the truth, I’m so lost with the X-men continuity at this stage that I’m not too bothered in any case.

And in fact this works as a genuine stand-alone film.  It really resembles no other comic-book adaptation that I can think of and can definitely be enjoyed by those who aren’t even interested in the genre.

Logan himself is finally ageing as the adamantium in his body is corrupting whatever made his cells so endlessly regenerative.  He is taking longer to heal even after such minor irritations as a shotgun blast at point blank range and is pretty much looking forward to death.

He and Charles resemble nothing so much as a couple of ageing gunfighters, their best days behind them, something emphasised by the film’s largely arid desert landscapes and numerous references to George Stevens’s 1953 classic, Shane.  And I was irresistibly reminded of Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott in Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country when Xavier disgustedly expresses his disappointment in the Wolverine.  But for me the Western it most resembles is Clint Eastwood’s brilliant Unforgiven, with its references to the passing of an era and the necessity of coming to terms with being a killer.  And of course, Jackman’s physical resemblance to old Clint doesn’t hurt either.

The melancholy slide of the two old friends towards the door marked ‘Exit’ is interrupted by the appearance of Laura (Dafne Keene), a young girl who is a ferocious, miniature Wolverine, sharing as she does Logan’s DNA.  She is the product of an amoral corporation, where the monstrous scientist Zander Rice (Richard E.  Grant) has been experimenting with the actual creation of mutants.  Logan already half-believes the mutant race to be ‘God’s mistakes’ but he has to re-evaluate his feelings when confronted by his daughter, her creation in a test-tube being a bitter, symbolic commentary on his own life.

As good as Jackman is – and he is very good indeed at portraying this burnt-out, life-weary, battle-weary shell of a warrior – Keene is something else altogether.  As sullen and unpredictable as her father, not to mention possibly even more ferocious, Laura is played by the young actress to perfection.  She is one to watch.

Together, the three embark on what is at times a Mad Max-like road trip, learning about each other on the way.  And, at least for me, the best scene in the movie is when the trio are treated to a homemade dinner by a young family they’ve encountered on the way, and where Logan heartbreakingly sees the life he could have had.

The screenplay is by Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green, based on the graphic novel Old Man Logan by Mark Miller and Steve McNiven; and although just a shade too long it is an affectionate and thrilling farewell to the Wolverine.







Author: Charley Brady

Share This Post On


  1. Donald Pierce is one of the most monstrous villains in the Xmen canon. Thing is he hates mutants but he knows if he fights Wolverine Cyclops or the Xmen he’s gonna get his ass kicked so he deliberately targets children who can’t fight back. The only time in comics he EVER fought Logan was when he had cyborgs backing him

  2. Hi Ryan,

    My only real contact with the X-men in comics form was during Chris Claremont’s run in the eighties. Without checking, I think the artist was John Byrne. There seemed to be so many intricate story arcs by Claremont that showed his love for these characters. And it was catching. As a matter of fact, that’s why I gave this little piece the header of ‘The New Mutants’, which was a spin-off title of the time.

    I think that it was about then that I thought he was spreading himself just a bit thin. It must be incredibly demanding to turn out quality 20-plus pages every month without fail. And it came to a head for me when he began a truly ridiculous cross-over into Conan’s Hyborian Age. I remember that Spider-Man even got involved somehow and ended up crucified! Bizarre stuff.

    Beautifully bloody artwork but with increasingly desperate writing. Again, I’m not sure, but I think that Claremont himself afterwards said that he didn’t think it worked either.

    I really only know the celluloid version of the X-men, but to me it seems to be a remarkable and consistently entertaining series of films.

    I liked this one, whilst seeing that it has its faults: but there’s something about desert landscapes reflecting a character’s inner bleak feelings that always gets me. Probably why I’m such a fan of JG Ballard and those desert backdrops… ‘Hello America’ comes to mind; and I have a feeling that JGB himself would have responded well to ‘Logan’.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.