Logan is a superhero movie about being mortal, about being human
May contain spoilers.
From the very first trailer, we knew Logan was not going to be like other superhero movies.
A frail and ageing Charles Xavier, a bloody and beaten Logan (AKA Wolverine), and a young girl. "She's like you," Charles tells Logan. "Very much like you." Cut to Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt, the trailer made it clear that Logan would strike a different tone to the X-Men movies that had preceded it.
Much was made of the fact that Logan was going to be a bloodier outing for Wolverine than we had seen before, and it is. In the first few minutes, limbs are torn from torsos, throats slashed and skulls punctured. Logan is old, old and weary. The rage still burns inside him, but instead of leaping into the fight, he begs his enemies to walk away. He doesn't want to do this anymore.
Being Wolverine is killing Logan. His healing factor is depleting, and the adamantium fused to his bones is poisoning him. He lives in pain and drinks constantly to numb it. Logan lives out of sight, caring for an infirm and elderly Charles, whose unstable telepathic powers mean he constantly has to be subdued. His only other companion is Caliban, an albino mutant who burns in sunlight.
It's not a happy family, but it's the only one Logan has. Everything is turned on its head when a woman begs Logan to take a young girl, Laura, to a secret location in North Dakota. Laura is a mutant, being hunted by private security forces working for the mysterious Transigen project. Like Logan, she too has claws and even less hesitation in using them.
Together, Logan, Laura and Charles kick up the dust and try to escape Transigen's grasp. What ensues has more in common with a family drama or road movie than any of the X-Men films, or indeed any other superhero movie. Of course there is action, with Logan ferociously dispatching enemies, but where The Avengers had waves of disposable alien foes toppling CGI skyscrapers, Logan finds Wolverine clashing with himself, both literally and figuratively.
The fighting is intense, gruesome, and hard to stomach. There is nothing cartoonish about the hacking and slashing, the screeching of metal on metal. When Captain America takes a hit, there's hardly a mark on his chiseled jaw. When Logan takes a hit, everyone takes a hit. The violence is visceral and scary, in part because it hasn't been tempered to get a 12A rating, but also because every wound could be Logan's last.
But Logan is more than an R-rated comic book movie, and beyond its bloody canvas, nothing like Deadpool. It's the end of a journey spanning eight movies and 17 years. In 2000's X-Men, Wolverine is brought into the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters and joins the X-Men, but it's in Logan that he finds family. "This is what life looks like," Charles says. "People who love each other. A home. You should take a moment, feel it."
Both Logan and Charles were powerful, infallible people; outcasts that gave themselves a purpose. Now they're old, facing their own mortality and asking themselves the question: when you see your time coming, what will you do with the remainder? In meeting and helping Laura, Logan gives himself a purpose. He gives his pain meaning and finds a reason to fight it. He will die, but not for nothing. As Charles tells him: "Logan, you still have time."
Logan opens in UK cinemas March 1.