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The claws. The anti-hero attitude. That wild hairdo. Wolverine, aka Logan, has always been the most popular of the big-screen mutant team, ever since the very first X-Menway back in 2000. Played by a then-little-known Australian actor named Hugh Jackman, he stole the show as the surly, cigar-chomping, seemingly unkillable outsider who reluctantly joined the gang to save the day. And he returned (even if just for a quick cameo) in almost every X-Men movie that’s followed, as well as a couple of solo adventures, played remarkably by Jackman each and every time.
Logan is his latest and, reportedly, last outing in the Marvel universe. The character couldn’t go out on a higher note. A hit with critics and at the box office, it’s been widely cited as the strongest entry in the X-Men cinematic universe yet. And we agree. So, as it premieres on Virgin Movies this week, we present our eight reasons why…
1. Wolverine is still our favourite X-Man
After all these years, he hasn’t lost his touch. Although actually, what makes Logan really interesting is that he has kinda lost his touch – set in 2029, the film shows him as a greyer, slower, clumsier man with waning superpowers who self-medicates to ease the pain. More than any previous X-Men or Wolverine movie, this film keeps the focus tightly on Logan as a layered, convincingly human character.
2. It puts story before visual effects
There’s no predictable, superbad-guy threat to the world in Logan’s plot; no CGI-filled, city-trashing, mega set-pieces. And that can only be a good thing. It’s gritty and down-to-earth from start to finish, the conflict keeping its boots planted firmly in the dirt and the drama intimate, relatable and eye-to-eye.
3. It’s more a Western than a superhero movie
Director James Mangold says Oscar-winning Western Shane was a huge influence, and the film hardly plays that down. In fact, in one scene, the 1953 classic actually plays on a hotel TV and one character lifts some of its dialogue. Logan is the “old gunslinger” forced to help innocent folk against a nefarious threat, and the movie has an impressive, sweeping, old-school feel. Mangold has dabbled in the genre before, too – he made 2007’s 3:10 To Yuma starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe – itself a remake of a Western classic.
4. It’s a buddy road movie… with superpowers
Another influence on Mangold was feel-good road movie Little Miss Sunshine. So here Logan hits the road with a dementia-suffering Professor X (Patrick Stewart), above – whose psychic brain has been officially classified as “a weapon of mass destruction” – and a young, moody girl (breakout star Dafne Keen, below) with her own mysterious super-abilities. The dysfunctional relationship between the three forms the film’s big, beating heart.
5. It has a wry sense of humour
Though it doesn’t quite reach Deadpool levels of mirth and meta-humour, Logan does reveal that Wolverine’s exploits have been immortalised in comic book form, something that certainly irks the grumpy ol’ mutant himself. “This is ice-cream for bed-wetters,” he says of the X-Men comic.
6. It doesn’t compromise
In previous outings, Wolverine’s bad attitude and butt-kicking were a little diluted for the blockbuster crowd. But here, for the first time, his bad language flows as free as the blood and gore in the fight scenes. Which makes for some of the most brutal and effective action sequences you’ll see all year. There’s no doubt – this is a proper movie for proper grown-ups.
7. It’s Hugh Jackman’s best performance yet
Jackman knows this character better than any he’s ever played, and it shows. Each second of the 17 years he’s played Logan has fed into this one performance, making it utterly electrifying and ultimately devastating. You can almost feel the throb of every single one of the battle scars that criss-cross his battered body.
8. It’ll make you cry
As we said, it doesn’t pull its punches. And it’s not only Jackman’s performance that’ll get you right in the chest. Patrick Stewart’s Professor X is simply heartbreaking: a great mind reduced to a state of confusion and anxiety. Few eyes will stay dry come the final scene. Indeed, the movie’s been so effective, there’s even some speculation it may earn a few Oscar nominations…