Logan is a pretty solid film, both in regards to the X-Men franchise and cinema as a whole. It’s an enjoyable romp with brutal action and deeply emotional character beats. If you want to hear more about why I like it, you can read my review here.
But that’s not what this post is about.
For all it’s success, there was one thing about Logan that really irritated me. Going in, although I didn’t know exactly what that factor that put me off would be, I knew that factor would be present.
But that doesn’t sound very clear, so let me explain:
Back in 2006, we got X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It wasn’t the best film, but some people (younger me included) could enjoy it for the mindless action flick it was. However, for all its plot holes, there was one moment where they went way too far. That moment was when Wade Wilson became Deadpool. Teleporting, optic-blasting, katana-fisted Deadpool. What’s that? That doesn’t sound like the Deadpool everyone knows and loves?
THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S NOT. IT WAS AN ATROCIOUS, INCOMPREHENSIBLE AND GENERALLY FUCKED UP DECISION THAT DRAGGED THE FILM EVEN FURTHER DOWN THAN IT HAD ALREADY FALLEN.
But fuck it. Whatever. It happened. Ryan Reynolds has since redeemed the character.
Then, in 2013, we got The Wolverine. This film was much more down-to-Earth (ignoring some elements, like the Viper character). It was much closer to the Wolverine fans wanted to see. He was travelling Japan, slicing up ninjas and generally being a badman. And then the secret antagonist, Harada, became a giant mech ‘Silver Samurai’.
I’m not even angry about that one. It was just weird, and, like Deadpool, extremely out of place. Why not just have him fight a regular samurai who’s found a way to drain his powers (or, y’know, just a regular samurai)? Maybe even make the sword some sort of power-stealing conduit? They had a lot of options here, and they went with one of the weirder ones.
So there was a precedent; a precedent of taking a Wolverine film and adding something that relentlessly fucks it just because it can. I really wanted to watch a Wolverine film devoid of such elements, but I knew that would be too good to be true.
So what was it that bothered me about Logan? What unforeseen element lead to every problem I have with the film?
As comic fans will know, the character of Laura, who shows up in this film, is a clone of Wolverine in the source material. In the movie-verse, she’s less of an out-and-out clone and more his secretly and unconventionally conceived daughter.
In the comics, Laura goes by the moniker of X-23, because she’s the 23rd attempt to clone Wolverine, also known as Weapon X, by the Weapon Plus program and one of their scientists, Dr. Zander Rice (who appears in the film, played by Richard E. Grant).
In the film, Laura is just one of many genetically engineered mutant children, dubbed the X-23s by Rice and his men, as a nod to Laura’s comic-book counterpart. These children are ultimately deemed a failed experiment, and their subsequent escape and the hunt to reclaim them is what drives the narrative forward.
Rice, meanwhile is busy at work on X-24, which, it is later revealed, is a near perfect clone of Wolverine.
At first, when it was revealed, I found myself thinking; ‘that’s actually quite smart, the perfect match for Wolverine would obviously be Wolverine’. But then, the further the film progressed the more I started to think that while that may be the case, X-24’s inclusion wasn’t necessary. Like, at all.
The whole point of Logan, as explained by director James Mangold, is that time is the real villain of this film. The entire run-time of the piece showcases just how far Wolverine and Professor X have fallen. Charles is a senile old man, prone to wrecking people with his mind; this once competent scholar now has a brain that’s classed as a weapon of mass destruction.
Wolverine, meanwhile, is constantly referred to as a disappointment. This once great hero is now a boozer with limited will to fight.
As the film goes on, you can really see the toll of all the action sequences dragging Wolverine down. His healing factor is slowly failing him and his adamantium skeleton is poisoning him.
Each time he gets riddled with bullets, he struggles to get back up. At one point, he even passes out from his body failing him. It’s stated that he nearly dies; not because he took too much of a beating, but just because his powers don’t hold up anymore. So why is X-24 necessary, if simple wounds will eventually take him down?
Picture the film without X-24: Logan has gone out on his little plumbing adventure with background character Will Munson, and instead of X-24 showing up, the Reavers arrive instead. They manage find a way to take out Charles before he can have another seizure and slaughter the family for trying to stop them. They take on Logan when he returns, but the sheer mass of soldiers overcome him long enough to allow them to escape. Similarly, the climax of the film could just see Logan taking down the Reavers for good, as his healing factor fails him for the last time. It would work just as well, and may have been even more emotional. However, if you really need some sort of adversary to sneak up on Charles and claw their way through the family, just build in a way to trigger Laura into becoming feral, IF YOU REALLY NEED TO…
Bring back Sabretooth.
There are a number of reasons why Sabretooth should have takenn the place of X-24.
Firstly, it would unintentionally do something that X-Men films haven’t done in a long long time; straighten out continuity. By bringing back Liev Schrieber as Sabretooth, you could connect the various films together into one clean narrative and give the Wolverine films a clear through-line.
In the first X-Men film, Sabretooth is little more than a bestial creature and neither he nor Logan seem to recognise each other all that much. Yet Origins reveals them to be brothers, and presents a completely different looking Sabretooth to the one that came before him. The obvious way to explain around this is to simply suggest he went feral. Bring back Liev Schrieber, and give him a slightly more rough-cut version of Sabretooth’s outfit in the original X-Men film. This would tie Logan together not only with the original X-Men film, but also one of the films that it’s actually a sequel of.
Furthermore, Sabretooth would make a formidable foe for Wolverine. A feral Sabretooth, who has grown more savage with age, would have easily slipped into the role that X-24 presents, and gives us a villain whose presence might actually mean something to Logan, unlike Donald Pierce, Zander Rice or X-24.
Lastly, bringing Sabretooth back would complete his mission statement. In Origins, he argues that he should undergo the adamantium procedure instead of Logan, but is rejected and relegated to hunting down mutants. Returning to his former occupation and finally getting the chance to become enhanced with implants would both clean up the character and provide him, alongside Logan, with some closure.
I truly believe this would have been a better way to go (although, just excising super-powered villains outright would have been even better). To me, the whole concept behind X-24 doesn’t make much sense, which makes it even more baffling that Sabretooth wasn’t made the villain. At one point in the film, Zander Rice says something like “rage can’t be nurtured, only created”. It’s a bit of a backwards statement; why should we care about a characters rage if it has no grounding in the events of the story? It doesn’t make much sense, and neither does X-24’s conclusion (adamantium bullets dont work like that – the Wolverine films told us so).
Don’t get me wrong, I did like Logan a lot. But any problems I had with it; from the adamantium bullet to Logan’s death; all stemmed from bringing in X-24.