“Logan” stands tall as one of the best films ever drawn from the comic book world. Arguably there are better, but far more obscure, films drawn from less popular material, but from the mainstream of this now entertainment staple this film is masterful. The film is a most suitable swan song for Hugh Jackman in the role. I will confess to being a Jackman skeptic when he was first announced as Wolverine in 1999/2000. Jackman is tall, Wolverine is short. Jackman, what little was known, was known primarily for refined roles, and Wolverine is defined by his feral berserker rages. But he has also set the template that the cinematic character and the comic book character need the same essence but not the same details and has come to embody the role. Like James Bond, the character is far too good to stay out of movies for very long. And like Sean Connery, Jackman is going to be terribly hard to replace. This film should serve Jackman well as he continues to develop his career, for this is a film about character, not action, though there is action aplenty.
The appeal of the X Men franchises has always been the audience identifying with the mutant as not quite fitting in. Making the target demographic for things X Man the “tweens” who experience that sensation so overwhelmingly, but this film is wholly unsuitable for such an audience. It is “R” rated and extremely violent. It is not unlike many of the grind house movies that remain guilty pleasures of mine from time-to-time. There is more than one beheading.
I shall try to analyse the film to some extent without spoilers. The movie is about redemption. Some have written that it is about Logan as penitent, and certainly Logan’s redemption is at play in the film. But the film also casts Logan as redeemer of mutantkind, and therein is one of the places where I think it gets redemption wrong.
While mutants are redeemed in the film, brought back from the edge of extinction, the war with humans continues. True redemption, it seem to me, offers not just salvation but also reconciliation. To be saved only to continue to fight has not really solved the problem. True redemption must also offer a hope of the end of conflict. True redemption extends not just to “our side,” but to all sides.
After the last election it feels good to be conservative again. That election certainly has a redemptive feel to it for conservatives. But what concerns me, what only time will tell, is if things will improve not just on the issues, but on the root conflict. Last Tuesday the president attempted to make peace, and the opposition was having none of it. Reconciliation cannot be achieved unilaterally. If we allow the model of redemption in “Logan” to guide us, we will pat ourselves on the back far too soon.
But it is the depiction of a redeemer in need of redemption where “Logan” gets things so terribly wrong. Biblically redemption requires sacrifice. This was true even as animal skins were used to cover Adam and Eve after the fall. From Abraham’s narrow escape from having to sacrifice his own son Issac to the detailed sacrificial codes the later Pentateuch, sacrifice is the price of man’s redemption in God’s eyes. Such sacrifice continues until the sacrifice of Christ, God Incarnate. Before Christ, all sacrifice was as broken as mankind – it bought time, but never true redemption. It was only when that which needed no redemption paid the price of redemption that the need for redemption ended and true redemption was achieved.
This is Lent – the season where we prepare ourselves to celebrate Christ’s ultimately redemptive acts. It is also a season where due to the various school vacations, theaters fill with blockbuster films. We dare not let the flawed filmic vision of redemption confuse us about the genuine redemption only Christ can offer.