WILL “LOGAN” be the rare superhero film that transcends the “comic-book movie” tag?
Just consider: If Hugh Jackman’s feral furry mutant did not originate from Marvel’s X-Men universe, many filmgoers might not even view it as comic-book fare.
Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine seems to go out of its way not to look and feel like a traditional superhero film. With no Spandex, ruby-quartz visors or city-leveling spectacles in sight, “Logan” plays more like a sci-fi flick with a Western heart. The film, in fact, nods more heavily toward the Mad Max and Terminator franchises — which themselves play like apocalyptic Westerns — and even winks toward 1953’s classic “Shane.”
In 2015, Steven Spielberg, in predicting mass fatigue from too much comic-book fare, said that superheroes will go “the way of the Western.” Yet it just may be the ethos of the Western that helps more fans appreciate a film like “Logan.”
Befitting that genre, “Logan” is largely set in the American Southwest, as Wolverine helps rescue a new, young mutant (Dafne Keen) while also trying to save an increasingly unstable Professor X (Patrick Stewart). And the entire adventure is deftly directed by James Mangold, who delivered an excellent remake of the Western “3:10 to Yuma” in 2007.
Among the first wave of reviewers, Geoffrey McNab of the Independent writes that “Logan” registers as “more like a late period John Wayne western than it does like a conventional superhero film.”
“Logan,” in fact, is currently just behind the best-reviewed X-Men movie ever, according to MetaCritic.com; with an aggregate score of “73,” it currently sits just one point behind 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
(“Logan” also scores a “96 percent fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes.)
In his review of the film, which opens March 3, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond goes so far as to call it “The Marvel Comic Book Movie for People Who Hate Marvel Comic Book Movies.”
And USA Today’s Brian Truitt calls it “The Dark Knight” of the X-franchise, citing one of the few superhero films that can be appreciated by those who generally look down upon any superhero movie.
Given that early buzz typically translates into box-office embrace, then expect “Logan” to be appreciated by fans of science fiction and Westerns, regardless of whether they care one whit about superheroes.