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The Smeary Gray of a Captivating Character

A Writer’s Perspective of the movie LOGAN

I’ve always loved me some Hugh Jackman (the man’s one sexy triple threat) so I feel like it’s only natural that my favorite X-Men is Wolverine.

But Jackman aside, if you’ve read any of my books, you know that I’ve always gravitated toward characters with a smeared outlook on life (not black and white but rather…a smeary gray color).

Wolverine is a very smeared character.

While other X-Men films (including the crappy X-Men Origins: Wolverine) focused on Wolverine being the most bad ass superhero around, Logan went in a completely new direction.

It’s really a treatise on vulnerability.

Wolverine’s real name is James Howlett, but he goes by Logan. I’m not an X-Men guru by any stretch of the imagination (I’ve never read the comics and I’ve seen maybe 2-3 of the films), so I don’t know what the canon says about why he has these different names but I’m going to go with what I find the most compelling reason:

Google says that James was born in the 1880s in Canada and raised by the Howletts. A man named Thomas Logan kills Mr. Howlett and in a fit of rage, James kills Logan…only to learn later that Logan was James’ real father.

What’s fitting about the fact that Wolverine takes the Logan name isn’t that it was his biological name but rather that it’s the name of the first man he kills.

Wolverine has always been an antihero wracked with guilt over the things he’s done.

That guilt and shame rear their ugly heads in Logan when we see a sick, aging man filled with rage and hustling to make a buck while reluctantly taking care of an addled Professor X (a telepath with enormous power). As always, Logan is trying to come to grips with something, in this case a disease that at once gives him these fantastic powers and at the same time is (finally) killing him.

It’s the classic trope of the main-character-with-a-past saying “I’m done with that sh**. Let me die in peace.” But something happens that drags him back in.

In this case that something is a little girl, grown in a lab from Logan’s DNA…essentially making her his daughter. She’s in grave danger and Logan has no choice but to help get her to safety.

**Side Rant**
This is where I have a bone to pick with Logan. The villains. The villains are simply there to push Logan and the girl’s journey onward. Which, I guess, if you want to be nit picky, that’s kinda the only reason an antagonist exists, isn’t it? To get in the protagonist’s way. But I think because the film had so much more going for it, I expected the villains to have a more personal reason behind their nefarious deeds.

All they wanted was to grow these mutants and make super soldiers.

That’s a perfectly fair super villain motivation but where are the personal stakes for them? The emotional connection that propels them to do such horrible things in order to get the girl back?

The doctor, the head dude at the lab, did have some emotional connection to it all – Wolverine killed his father. But that felt like it was just thrown in there. Come on. At the end that fact made no difference whatsoever. It didn’t excuse his treatment of the mutant children or the fact that he sent his personal militia after them.
**Rant Over**

Ok, so anyway, we have this film about this old guy who is trying to get his daughter to safety, all the while dying of the very disease that gives him power and burdens him with incredible responsibility.

Wolverine is one of those superheroes with super-healing powers. Every time he’s shot or stabbed or blown up, he simply heals good as new. And yet suddenly, over the course of this film, his powers aren’t working so well. Suddenly his eyesight is failing, his hair is turning gray.

The most heart-wrenching part of Logan is that he embraces it. He wants it. He’s done with this whole mess we call life.

And now he’s a parent.

What’s more vulnerable than having a child?

Not only are you tasked with protecting this little stranger, but you are also responsible for making sure they grow up into decent human beings.

And for Logan, that might prove more difficult because this little girl can fight. One of the first times we see her in action, she rips someone’s head off!

Logan spent more than a lifetime saddled with responsibility he never wanted (his super powers), invulnerable to bullets and knives. As a reflection of that he’s built an emotional wall inside himself that few can penetrate.

And right when he’s at his weakest, physically and emotionally, and getting weaker by the day, here comes this little girl who needs him.

So what does Logan do? He rebels against it, of course. Like the accidental parent who sees the blue line on the pregnancy test, he denies it. Then he resents it. Then, over the course of the film, he grows to love it…and in the end….well, I’ll leave that for you to find out. *winky face*

Want to read more smeary characters? Check out my books today!

author, movie, reviews, superhero, writing