Rioting into the sunset.
Logan is a fantastic omega opus for the Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, with true heart in a masterfully shaped dystopia.
By Tym Stevens
The revolution being televised already happened on the page.
The most successful comics film translations are often directly sourced from the ’80s comics renaissance. During that punk chaos between majors and indies, when anything could happen and did, Miller and Moore reigned supreme: writer/artist Frank Miller was noir graphics and hardboiled skepticism; writer Alan Moore was conceptual deconstruction and diverse possibilities.
The revolution’s purpose was to create more maturity and range, an adult spectrum for a medium already many decades beyond kidstuff. Now cinema wrestles with how to translate those pivotal works and that goal. History has given it two paths to reflect upon: Miller ultimately devolved into nihilist rage, and his worst acolytes produce teen aggro; Moore refocused on mature wonder, and his best followers conjure sophisticated dreams.
The lazy mainstream narrative is that there is a “superhero formula,” and that Logan subverts it. In truth, this enforced narrative genericizes comics based on retrograde impressions an eon out of date in order to dismiss a blossoming and diverse creative movement. In truth, comics have always been every possible genre, just like their siblings, books and films; each character (and their film or show) is likewise a unique genre type, and Logan—as once redefined by Frank Miller—emerged as an existential samurai. This third Wolverine film strips that concept down to film conventions most viewers will understand, an Eastern/Western set in dystopian badlands, making it seem revolutionary to novices. But film flacks are really responding to the Ford and Peckinpah familiarity in Logan, while failing to recognize it is also Lone Wolf and Cub, afilm series itself based on manga. Just as books and films are respected mediums that have enriched each other, so too are the graphic storytelling arts now proving their merit.
Is this a good film in its own right? Yes. It’s a taut and textured character play that works best as an elseworlds allegory, a warning of paths to avoid. (At the same time, it can fairly be accused of throwing the excellent X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2016), which finally fixed all continuity to mass satisfaction, under the bus for a solo curtain call.) It is edgy, sharply-drawn, minimalist, and touching, a fine bow-out for Hugh Jackman.
And while X-23 was initially a disaster on the comic page (every misogynist atrocity, until those excesses were purged by author Marjorie Liu’s compassionate revamp), here the inherent brevity of film works in her favor, streamlining a dodgy character into a feral child who evokes our empathy.
So, is the denuded angst of Logan really the revolution? Or is it Legion, Noah Hawley’s TV series translating the ’80s works of Claremont and Sienkiewicz’s sophisticated dreamscapes? Miller or Moore? Bitter or better?
“Yes, there are two paths you can by, but in the long run/
there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”