“Logan” and the Apparent Pinnacle of Superhero Movies

Hugh Jackman in his natural habitat.

The X-Men movies have always been subpar to most of the public eye. They were cheesy, the contained inadequate acting, and were generally looked at as a lesser tier of the superhero genre. I held this opinion as well, up until last week when I saw Logan.

Calling Logan the best superhero movie you’ve ever seen undersells just how good Logan was. Movies within the superhero genre tend to receive the same negative critical views that the X-Men movies have received. They are childish, lack depth, and have underlying subplots that honestly could be resolved with a simple conversation (looking at you Avengers). Logan is a host unto itself, and should be treated as such.

The most critically acclaimed “superhero” movie people keep referencing Logan to is The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan perfectly laid out what a good superhero movie entails, yet many have failed to recapture it. Zack Snyder keeps trying (and failing) to do it within the DC Universe, but has instead been substituting important political and character building elements with cheap fight scenes and poor acting (subtweet @ Jessie Eisenberg).

The map Nolan created is simple. Take a superhero who has always been on more of the edgy side, and have him start to come to terms with the pain he has inflicted upon society. This builds a sense of humanization within the hero. You begin to relate to the hero and put yourself in their situation. Finally kill off, or send off, the hero in a way that creates the final tug at the heart strings.

Logan incorporates all these elements to perfection, and even includes some Johnny Cash to top everything off. Marvel could take some notes from James Mangold’s masterpiece, perhaps the first superhero movie to fully embrace the terrifying reality of having powered beings living amongst the common people. Wolverine and his claws were never tools meant to live among a normal society. Logan was a killing machine with razor blades embedded in his body, and could kill anyone in a moments notice; that’s pretty damn scary.

This cinematic beauty will undoubtedly be met with some backlash from the more conservative audience. In the first five minutes of the film, Wolverine brutally kills five men, which sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Between the almost comical violence and hearing a childhood hero drop innumerable F-bombs, the movie is not for everyone.

However, in what was by far the best performance of Hugh Jackman’s career, Logan is the first superhero movie to explore the real-world ramifications of having enhanced beings wreak havoc on society, while still delivering a powerful message. Congratulations, Mr. Mangold. You have initiated the pinnacle of superhero movies.

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