Some films don’t leave you at peace.
Some place upon you a burden, one that you’ll carry over the coming weeks and months. Even years later, a sight or a smell or a sound will bring this type of film to mind, and for the space of a moment, you’ll feel the weight of it, the discomfort of a world that is not as it should be. It is within this kind of film that art strips down the barriers between man and God, allowing us a chance at redemption by pushing us to find our purpose.
Logan is one of these films.
Directed by James Mangold, Logan is a far cry from the primary colors—both emotional and physical—that mark the typical superhero blockbuster. Audiences grown used to films like Avengers, or even Mangold’s previous stab at the X-Men universe, The Wolverine, are in for something very different with Logan. This is a film that looks more like Mad Max: Fury Road than Superman, and feels more like Shindler’s List than X-Men.
Logan begins at the bottom. Hugh Jackman plays the film’s titular character—also known as Wolverine—as he is in the year 2029. But this isn’t the Wolverine we remember from the X-Men’s glory days. No—this Logan is old. His powers barely function. He’s living in poverty and driving a limo to make ends meet. The warrior mutant who was once able to completely heal from all but the gravest of wounds in seconds now walks with a limp, is covered in scars, and is wracked by ominous coughing fits.
The film’s name is meaningful. Wolverine, the superhero, is gone. Logan, the man, is come.
It’s hard to see him this way. Wolverine is an icon, the epitome of the warrior who rushed headlong into every battle, claws out. He represented the courage that so many of us wish we had, and we like to think that this sort of courage is immortal, that it will always be there to inspire us.
It isn’t, and it won’t. Courage arises only from humanity, and like the cherry blossom, humanity blooms for a time, only to fall from the branch shortly after. And in acknowledging this, Logan does something no other superhero film has ever done.
It tells the truth.
There is a good reason why audiences love fantasy. We live in a fallen world, yet we yearn for something more, something higher, something better. C.S. Lewis once wrote that “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” For Christians, this “other world” Lewis wrote of lies in Heaven.
Yes—there is a bridge between Logan and God, and that bridge is art. Mangold’s film isn’t a Christian movie. But in telling the truth through fantasy, the art of Logan gives a glimpse of the divine.
Superheroes are commonly beings of singular purpose—they are here to protect and defend, amidst other great deeds. But in the beginning of the film, Logan is without purpose. He’s barely getting by, living in a shed just across the Mexican border. He harbors some vague desires for the future, but it’s clear he doesn’t believe he’ll reach them. The man wants to die.
And it’s here that we are introduced to another major character. Logan features not only its namesake, but another beloved member of the X-Men—none other than its powerful, telepathic founder, Charles Xavier, masterfully played by Patrick Stewart.
Charles, too, is broken—moreso even than Logan is. Have you ever wondered what would happen if the most powerful telepath on the planet, a man who can control other people, wipe minds, and locate people all over the globe, were to suffer from dementia?
In Logan, you find out. And you’ll wish you hadn’t.
If it hurts to see Logan in a state of age and infirmity, it is utterly heartbreaking to see the fatherly Charles Xavier so, to listen as this once-great man babbles, to watch tears slide down his cheeks as he continually realizes, forgets, and re-realizes that his diseased mind is out of control, having hurt and killed all of the people he loves the most. Logan does his best to keep things under control by providing Charles with medication, but it is a losing battle against time and disease.