Logan is not going to be your average Marvel film. Reportedly Hugh Jackman’s last movie as Wolverine, it’s not as grim-looking as 2013’s The Wolverine and it co-stars everyone’s favorite soon-to-be-poop-emoji, Patrick Stewart, as Professor X, miraculously resurrected without explanation after his onscreen vaporization a few movies back.
This is the third installment in a trio of Wolverine movies, which exist both within and separate from the X-Men cinematic canon (it’s not as if the comics ever paid much attention to continuity and timelines, so why start now?). Much of the publicity for the film, directed and written by James Mangold, has centered around an anti-hero, grounded vibe, and the fact that it somehow managed to snag an R-rating for graphic violence and profanity. Can you imagine Cyclops or Captain America swearing? No, me neither. The Marvel characters of today are adorable (although Cap’s potential Hydra allegiances may signal a darker turn).
With the popularity of Fox’s Deadpool, which earned $783m, without 2D or China, on a $58m budget, this probably seems less risky than it would have done before. The X-Men movies have always been something of a red-headed step child to the phenomenon that is the Robert Downey Jr headed extended Avengers universe. Pre-James McAvoy, they weren’t quite as slick and shiny, eschewing one-liners and character development for plot heavy action stories.
Similarly, Logan looks to be less comic book adventure and more old school, Western fare: the aging gunslinger’s last stand. Grittier and angrier than past installments, it’s possibly the perfect complement to a post-election of Donald Trump society, rejecting the cushy idealistic optimism that characterizes recent Marvel output in favour of a more realistic viewpoint.
The movie takes place in a grim future in which most of the world’s mutants have died out. Logan is sick enough and old enough that his healing powers aren’t quite as capable as they once were. He now works as an alcoholic chauffeur while he cares for a critically ill Professor X as he waits for his very long life to come to a rather irrelevant end. But everything changes when he’s accosted by a woman begging for help with a young girl with special powers.
It’ll be interesting to see how it performs at the box office. The Wolverine was the lowest-grossing X-Men movie ever in North America but at the time it was the second-biggest worldwide title. It’s possible that a solid couple of trailers (the use of Johnny Cash’s Hurt in the teaser was inspired) and the promise of some real action will push this one closer to the $179m domestic finish of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.