Sunday, March 05, 2017

"Logan" (2017) -- Initial Thoughts

When I got out of the theater this evening, I texted my best friend.  It's a thing I do when I see a movie, generally -- I'll text her before and after.  Tonight, I leaned against the wall outside screen ten and wrote, "I am the oddest mix of emotionally devastated and content."  I can't think of any other way to succinctly explain how I feel about this movie.  I had to sit in my car and finish crying before I could drive home... but I'm not sad.

In fact, I'm proud.

I'm proud of my Wolverine, James, Logan -- whatever name you want to call this broken, resilient, protective loner.  He did not go gentle into that good night.  He burned and raved.  He raged in a way only the Wolverine can rage.

And he triumphed.

I cannot imagine any way that I could be more proud of my Wolverine.

*!*!*!*!*!*  This section involves MAJOR SPOILERS.  Skip to below the next picture if you are spoiler-shy.  *!*!*!*!*!* 

I had the weirdest conversation with my mom over Christmas.  We were watching The Fellowship of the Ring, and when we got to that big fight between Gandalf and Saruman, she said something to the effect of, "It's just so pitiful when old men try to fight.  Don't they know they can't do that anymore?"  (That's obviously not true of Gandalf and Saruman, because they're kind of ageless Maiar and everything, but anyway...)  I said, "No!  I completely disagree.  I think when an old man stands up and says he's going to fight with whatever is left in him -- that's not pitiful.  That's glorious.  I admire an old man who will not let the fact that he is old be an excuse to stand by and do nothing."  And that is very much how I feel about both Wolverine and Professor X in this.  They're old.  They're dying.  And they're not going to let that stop them from standing up for what is right.

You know I have a thing for "found family" stories.  It's part of what has drawn me to the X-Men since I was a teen, since before the movies ever existed -- they have always been about finding and building a family if you don't have one.  The fact that this wasn't only about a "found family," but also about Wolverine finding out he has a family was just... it was wonderful.  It was all the things I wanted, emotionally.  And then they added Shane (1953) to the mix, and I thought rainbows were going to shoot out of my fingers and toes, I was so happy.  Did they write this movie just for me?  Did they access my brain while I was asleep and amalgamate this from all the things I love?  There was a scene where I had Alan Ladd and Hugh Jackman on the screen at the same time -- I started to cry there just because I couldn't quite believe that was really happening.  My Alan.  My Wolvie.  Together.

And even if I hadn't already guessed how this movie was going to end, from the moment they added Shane into the mix, it was clear.  Wolverine had become Shane -- here to protect an innocent family by standing between them and evil, by sacrificing himself for them.  And by leaving them in the process.  Only, in Logan, the family is his own.

And that's what emotionally wrecked me -- not the death of Wolverine.  He died well.  He was ready to die, and he died at peace.  I could not ask for more.  What made me cry and cry in the theater, all through the end credits, and then cry more in my car, was that they used Shane's final speech to Joey as a eulogy for Wolverine.  I'm tearing up again now just remembering it.  I could not ask for a more fitting way to say goodbye to a favorite actor's portrayal of a favorite character than by reciting the words made famous by another favorite actor portraying another favorite character.  It's as perfect as possible, in a very personal way for me.

I have loved Wolverine for twenty years now -- loved him for his feral arrogance, for his fierce loyalty, for his willingness to do whatever nasty things need doing so that others don't have to do them.  I don't know if I've ever talked about this on my blog before, though I know I've discussed it in comments and emails with some of you, but I actually refused to go see the first X-Men (2000) in the theater because everything I'd seen of Hugh Jackman did not fit the Wolvie I knew.  Wolverine in the comics is supposed to be "nasty, brutish, and short."  Not handsome.  Not tall.  Not Hugh Jackman.  I had even been mad at first that Dougray Scott was going to play him, because he was too handsome, but I'd gotten used to that idea -- I already liked Scott from Ever After (1998).  Who was this Hugh Jackman person to take over a role he was so ill-suited for?  I refused to see such a travesty.

But then, after the movie had come to VHS, they showed X-Men on a college field trip somewhere, on the bus.  My college best friend and roommate convinced me not to bury my nose in a book and ignore it, but just to give it a try.  And by the end of that first scene where Wolvie is cage fighting and as growled-up as any Wolvie fan could desire, my mind began to change.  By the end of my first viewing, I had converted.  I know they'll probably cast someone else as Wolverine again some day.  I will try not to make the same mistake and judge them before I see how they portray him.  But... Hugh Jackman's Wolverine will always be MY Wolverine.


  1. I definitely agree with you about stories where old men refuse to give up/stop fighting--like you said, they're doing what they HAVE to do. Because they're still themselves, no matter how old they are; and they have to stay true to their own values for as long as they're still alive. That's life.

    As soon as I heard that this movie referenced "Shane," I thought to myself, "Hamlette is going to be very very happy." And I'm so very glad this series of films wrapped up in a way that satisfied you :-)

    You know, I love it when you write these posts where you go into your own "history" with a particular movie or character or actor; because I'm only just starting to get into watching movies myself, it really fascinates me :-)

    1. Jessica, I'm glad we agree on that! Exactly -- they're still themselves.

      I had no idea Shane was involved at all. No clue. I have avoided everything about this film except the trailers. It was all I could do not to cheer aloud.

      And thank you -- I sometimes wonder if anyone cares about my ramblings regarding my personal history with a film or book. Since it's my blog, I write what I want, but it's nice to know that some people do enjoy it when I do that!

    2. I do enjoy it, very much! I find it really interesting to think about why different people enjoy what they do, how they figured out what it is they enjoy, and so on :-)

    3. Jessica, you know I spend a lot of thinking time on the whys of my enjoyment, so don't expect those sorts of discussions to end any time soon :-)

  2. But really, your post is perfect and describes all my feelings very well. And I just this film and THERE ARE NO MORE GUNS IN THE VALLEY AND I CANNOT EMOTIONALLY PROCESS ANY OF THIS RIGHT NOW OR MAYBE EVER.

    You are my Wolvie friend, so I was always gonna have to discuss this with you--but then Alan Ladd was in the mix and I really needed to discuss this with you.

    So shockingly good. I don't even have good descriptive words right now.

    1. Thank you, Millie. You are also my Wolvie Friend -- it's so nice to have someone else who Understands, isn't it?

      No lie: I spent TWO HOURS writing this post. It's got what, 8 paragraphs? Approximately fifteen minutes per paragraph -- that's crazy talk. I never write that slowly. But it took me forever and ever amen to find the right words. I have more to say, but I can't say it yet.

      "There's no living with a killing. Right or wrong, it's a brand -- a brand that sticks. There's no going back." Oh, fine, here, just take ALL my feelings and put them in a big bowl and stir them up and then pour them out the window, why don't you? Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

      And then they have Johnny Cash in there too. I love Johnny Cash, especially his later recordings. Especially "Hurt," which they used for the trailer, but "When the Man Comes Around" is good stuff too. I was crying and singing along during the end credits. I've had my "The Legend of Johnny Cash" album on repeat on and off throughout today. It's very soothing, actually.

    2. Same. I have too much to say that's it's crowding out all my thoughts and making it so that I have nothing to say (this is scientific).

      Like, yeah. Okay. Take all my weird emotional responses to all the aging gunfighter tropes of classic westerns and add them on to all my feelings about Wolverine (I only know him from the films though). AND FINE WHATEVER I DON'T CARE.

      The Johnny Cash was too much. The "Hurt" trailer was perfect and I watched it three times in a row when I first saw it. Haha

      And then using "When the Man Comes Around." I saw in my seat for that whole song. It was like a moment to emotionally process. AND IT MADE IT EVEN MORE.

    3. I saw it for a second time yesterday and I just noticed the samurai sword from The Wolverine hanging in his room in Mexico. AND I CANNNNNNNNNOOOOTTTTTTTT.

    4. Millie, yes, it's very scientific. Crowded brains are a menace. I try to keep mine as uncluttered with unnecessary material as possible. Sherlock Holmes agrees with this plan.

      Yes, the aging gunfighters are bad enough, but equate my Wolvie with any gunfighter at all and I'm guaranteed to just sort of spontaneously vaporize.

      I stay through the credits for every movie (unless I reeeeeeeally have to pee). I was annoyed with the people who stayed through these and then complained audibly about there not being a stinger scene. Dudes. Dudettes. Stingers are about what happens next -- there's no next here. Not gonna be a stinger for a movie like this. Get over it.

      Yup. He had some on his wall in his room in Days of Future Past too. Love the continuity.

  3. I love the Shane/Alan connection. That is just too cool and perfect for you. I also will always love reading about your personal history with movies, both general and specific. :-D

    1. DKoren, I'm now going back and reading stuff about the film, and I just read an interview where Hugh Jackman talked about both Shane and The Unforgiven being big sources of inspiration for the film. So cool.

      And of course you do! You have to -- pretty sure it's in our Best Friends Contract somewhere :-D

  4. I'm not reading the spoiler section but i'm so glad you liked it!!!
    "He did not go gentle into that good night. He burned and raved. He raged in a way only the Wolverine can rage. And he triumphed." Wow, that's a beautiful way to put it. And knowing Wolverine and how much you love him I know what you mean. You're making me more excited to watch this movie than I was before. xxx

    1. SW, I'm not a huge Dylan Thomas fan, but I have long loved his poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" (full text here, if you're curious), and it just seemed so completely apropos for this story, so I had to quote it a bit.

      Hope you dig it when you see it!

  5. I will (probably) see this eventually because I adore this character, but the fact that filmmakers felt the "need" to make this final journey so violet is off putting. I get what they wanted to do, but I would argue, they could have still accomplished all of their emotional goals and stories with less of an emphasis on that. Sometimes what we don't see is more terrifying than what we do.

    1. Rissi, I agree that all the things that made it R (violence, language, and brief instance of nudity) were entirely unneeded. I loved it despite them, but would have been happier without them. I think the previous movies were plenty violent and communicated the idea of his rage and power and ruthlessness just fine. There were instances in this where I had to look away.


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