17 years have passed since the first X-Men movie premiered in theaters. In the subsequent two decades, comic book movies have become the Western of the day – readily available and near inescapable.
Audiences flock to anything based on an existing comic book property – and most likely will for the foreseeable future – the time has come for this genre to take the next step in its evolution.
When I think of the American Western, I think of two names – John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Despite defining the genre, the two actors could not have produced more different bodies of work. Wayne’s cowboys were always ‘good’ – the quintessential white hat hero. Eastwood’s cowboys stood in stark contrast – the prototype of the Anti-Hero so commonplace in modern day cinema and television.
The shift from “upstanding hero” to “man with no name” signaled a change in what kind of hero movie-going audiences were interested in watching. The genre had hit a critical mass and rather than spreading out with more of the same kind of story, had to grow deeper to engage interest in different ways. Eastwood’s anti-hero westerns introduced levels worthy of exploration.
In 1992, Eastwood returned to the genre he helped to redefine with Unforgiven – arguably one of the best westerns of all time. Logan – based on the comic book, Old Man Logan, which is a very obvious Marvel re-telling of Unforgiven – has the chance to ‘Eastwood’ the standard comic book movie.
It’s 2029. Mutants are gone–or very nearly so. An isolated, despondent Logan is drinking his days away in a hideout on a remote stretch of the Mexican border, picking up petty cash as a driver for hire. His companions in exile are the outcast Caliban and an ailing Professor X, whose singular mind is plagued by worsening seizures. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy abruptly end when a mysterious woman appears with an urgent request–that Logan shepherd an extraordinary young girl to safety. Soon, the claws come out as Logan must face off against dark forces and a villain from his own past on a live-or-die mission, one that will set the time-worn warrior on a path toward fulfilling his destiny.
Comic books movies are popular. Too popular to die out. They have been since Superman flew into cinemas in 1979, and they will be popular for the foreseeable future. What Logan is attempting to prove is that they can be good, too. If this is truly Hugh Jackman’s last ride as an X-Man, he’s going out on a high note. This is not to be missed.