'Your average cinemagoer could be forgiven for thinking they’ve just stumbled into the wrong screening: “I didn’t pay to see no Western?! Where all the superheroes at?” 'Fox

It’s 2029, and Logan (previously known as Wolverine) is scarred, grey-haired and weathered by the burdens of his over-extended life. He shuffles about the dusty plains of Texas with a stiff and pained limp, and scowls and curses at the bodies of the drug-dealers he’s just laid to waste in the muck – if only for the inconvenience of making him move. Your average cinemagoer could be forgiven for thinking they’ve just stumbled into the wrong screening: “I didn’t pay to see no Western?! Where all the superheroes at?”

Well, following some devastating event at Westchester, which is only ever alluded to in hushed and whispered tones of regret and shame, Logan is now a lone mutant, acting as a lowly chauffeur driving seedy partygoers and even seedier playboy businessmen around in his modest, dust-covered limo by night. Mutants are now on the brink of extinction, and those that are still alive are forced into hiding for the sake of their lives at the hands of the Reavers. Professor Charles Xavier, that telekinetic powerhouse and guiding light of compassion for mutants everywhere, is now resigned to a hospital bed placed within the shell of a rusting water tank, shafts of light piercing through the claustrophobic air highlighting the wrinkles on his desperate face.

“The father-son relationship between the two has also reached its final stage: Logan is now the father, Charles the son”

Left to look after the decrepit Charles (not “the professor” anymore), Logan is forced to work his chauffeur job so he can provide for Charles the medication he needs as he struggles through a neurodegenerative disease that’s left him not just near-powerless (or unable to control his power) but confused and exhausted. The father-son relationship between the two has also reached its final stage: Logan is now the father, Charles the son. In fact, throughout his extended life, Logan has battled with the father-son dynamic in its emerging, various and often twisted guises. Whether it’s with William Stryker, the man who wiped his memory following the traumatic process of coating his bones (and, notably, his famous claws) in the indestructible adamantium, or whether it’s Charles Xavier offering him with a stable home and a semblance of support and security at his School for the Gifted, Logan has fought against the acts of the paternal. Even when Logan acts as a protector for the mutant students of Xavier’s school, fighting off invaders and evil-doers with a fiercely territorial paternal streak reminiscent of his wild namesake, the Wolverine, he abandons them in pursuit of his own needs in the end.

“It also manages to venture into moments of dark comedy, outright silliness, and heart-wrenching pathos”

If we go back 200 years to the beginning of Logan’s story, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we find in the opening scene a young James Howlett (as he was then known) slaying, with his newly-protruding bone claws, the family’s groundskeeper in revenge for the murder of the man he thought was his father. As the groundskeeper, Thomas Logan, slinks to the floor, he whispers with his dying breath, “son…” Now, in 2029, there’s Laura, one of the last remaining young mutants, bearing a striking resemblance to Logan, who desperately needs escorting to some refuge to escape the hands of vile raiders out for her blood. Laura, just like the young James Howlett, is dealing with the murder of a parent and a now reluctant father figure in Logan, torn between trust and abandonment, rage and hugs.

Logan is probably the most brutally violent and gritty of all the Marvel films thus far. In its long running time of 135 minutes, it also manages to venture into moments of dark comedy, outright silliness, and heart-wrenching pathos.

Saying this, I can’t help but feel that it could have been tightened up and made snappier somewhere along the way. A terrific effort

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