Logan ★★★★½

The story of Logan (2017) begins in 1984 with Orion Pictures trying in vain to figure out how to properly adapt Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s renowned X-Men comic franchise. It wasn’t until 20th Century Fox purchased the rights in 1994 that that dream was within reach, but it would still take several more years of rewrites and cast/crew changes before it would become Bryan Singer’s X-Men (2000). It’s easy to forget the significance of this film and its sequels, X2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), in the glut of superhero films that we’ve seen over the past two decades, but they showed the industry the market for DC’s Batman Begins (2005) and Marvel’s Ironman (2008).

The X-Men film series as a whole has seen great commercial success, due to the fans’ devotion to the characters as well as love for the cast. Even the films that were total misfires like X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), which was both bad and leaked unfinished online months before its release, have a seat at the table. It wasn’t until a polarizing R-rated Deadpool (2016) burst onto the scene that viewers realized that they wanted something other than another PG-13 film where mutants don’t get along. This opened the door for Mark Millar’s dark and gritty alternate-ending “Old Man Logan” to attach itself to and change the finale of the original timeline, which had been replaced Star Trek (2009) time-travel style by X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). 

Nearly two decades of films have endeared the world to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X, but neither of these critically acclaimed actors are willing to coast on their former glories. Logan (2017), the first superhero film to receive a screenwriting Oscar nomination, defies the stereotypical “We did it!” ending with a heartbreaking portrait of once great heroes wasting away. The future is no longer theirs for the taking.

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