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The ‘Logan’ Exit Survey

After the film’s blockbuster box-office performance and rave reviews from audiences and critics, the Ringer staff ponders our favorite moments, wonders whether it’s the best superhero movie since ‘The Dark Knight,’ and contemplates if we want more Hugh Jackman–as–Wolverine in our lives

(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

Logan made more than $85 million this weekend, and gave the flagging superhero genre a shot in the arm (or a claw across the chest). Audiences and critics alike responded to its raw, visceral action sequences and significant emotional stakes. We asked the Ringer staff 12 pressing questions after seeing the film. Note, this piece is FULL OF SPOILERS.

1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘Logan’?

Chris Ryan: Turns out combining this …

with this …

… was a really good idea.

Sam Schube: A serious, thoughtful, and extremely bloody movie made by people wildly passionate about the subject matter (comic books, aging, violence, steroids). And yet something left me a little cold.

Micah Peters:

Jason Concepcion: The X-Men aren’t a superteam; they’re a surrogate family. Logan is the first X-movie that gets that — and Wolverine — right.

Amanda Dobbins: I liked the part with the kids!

Mallory Rubin: I laughed, I cried, I longed to stroke his beard. I’m not too proud to admit how desperately I hoped his cairn would quiver in the final frame.

Christian Robinson: Logan redefines what we can expect from a comic book movie and will serve as the first mile marker of a new era.

Juliet Litman: Logan is a great buddy-road-trip movie that proves shallow romance is no longer necessary in superhero movies.

David Shoemaker: That would have been the best superhero movie of all time if it had been a superhero movie.

Alison Herman:

2. How did you feel about the violence?

Schube: I can usually handle violence; Logan grossed me all the way out. Somewhere around the fifth or sixth just-the-tip shot of Wolverine’s claws entering and exiting a bad guy’s head, I began to wonder how effectively the film could critique brutal violence while so clearly relishing it.

Concepcion: The violence reflected the essence of a character who has three unbreakable, razor-sharp knives embedded in each hand. If anything, the earlier X-Men movies were not violent enough.

Herman: Metal claws ripping through human flesh is gross. Logan is the first time I actually realized that while I was watching it happen.

Dobbins: It was weirdly repetitive? I don’t mean to oversell my personal strength here; I closed my eyes for a solid 20 percent of this movie. But the cycle is so predictable — claws, blood, head spinning through the air — that I almost became accustomed to it, if not excited for it. I guess this is why they don’t let kids watch violent movies.

Robinson: I thought it was jarring and gruesome — which was appropriate—rather than stylized and cartoonish — which is the norm.

Rubin: The fight scenes were so smooth and choreographed, so full of crisp sounds and sweeping limbs, that I found them oddly balletic. The motion was so perpetual and gripping that it distracted from the gore. I felt the savagery most when the camera lingered on Logan’s wounds in the quiet moments. Nothing’s more violent than old age.

Litman: I was expecting worse. The depiction of Laura as a trained assassin reminded me of the movie Hanna, which does not get enough recognition.

Shoemaker: Uncomfortable. But that’s the point. In movies and even comics, Wolverine’s claws never get used realistically except against, like, the Brood, or that one time Todd McFarlane pitted him against the Hulk. When they’re used appropriately, it’s unsettling as hell, as this movie proved.

3. What was your favorite moment of the film?

Robinson: “Holy shit, Wolverine vs. Wolverine!”

Concepcion: Wolverine and Caliban’s conversation after Charles’s first seizure.

Herman: There’s a reason that convenience-store parenting moment made the teaser.

Peters: After struggling to find the words to say over Charles’s body, Logan wants to cut and run but can’t because the engine in his truck won’t turn over. Then he bashes the windows in with the shovel he just used to bury his oldest friend. It’s an emotionally raw moment brought down by something situationally hilarious, like when the paramedics can’t figure out how to put the stretcher in the ambulance in Manchester by the Sea.

Rubin: Hearing Logan whisper, “So this is what it feels like,” cut deeper than any adamantium claws could. The best superhero movies work because they make basic human emotion matter as much as fantastic powers.

Ryan: The El Paso escape — all of it, from Boyd Holbrook’s grandstanding, Laura going bowling with a dude’s head, the Dan Bilzerian–looking special ops guys getting run over or cut to pieces, and the dusty, difficult, thrilling car chase.

Schube: Xavier sticking his tongue out, the 2029 Will Be Hell wink of self-driving trucks, Boyd Holbrook flipping his robot fingers backwards, Laura’s heartbreaking gesture at Logan’s grave in the final shot.

Litman: Patrick Stewart’s levity in the casino elevator. Many of the X-Men movies downplay his charisma even though Professor X is the true magnetic force of this world.

4. What was your least favorite part of the movie?

Robinson: The kid couldn’t bring it during the eulogy … I wanted to be more moved than I was.

Ryan: They could have cut the Oklahoma City casino sequence and lost nothing.

Dobbins: That second Hugh Jackman — “X-24,” if you must — was annoying, especially when he showed up at the end to steal the kids’ spotlight. I assume that story line is lifted straight from the X-Men universe? It felt like it, anyway, which is a shame in a movie that otherwise mostly avoided fan service.

Herman: There’s a grating tendency in atypical superhero movies to spell out how atypical they are in 72-point font rather than letting their specialness speak for itself. (Not to name names, but look no further than Logan’s lead-in sequel teaser for the worst offender.)

Having X-Men comics exist in the X-Men universe is already weird enough. Having Logan point out that unlike comics, in this world, people die — an hour before HE DIES? We would’ve gotten there on our own.

Rubin: I thought I was going to pass out during the two seizure scenes. I also have a hard time understanding how a super-involved explainer video got edited on a phone in a motel room under the threat of imminent death.

Concepcion: When Eriq La Salle and his family showed up, because it was obvious that they would all die.

Schube: The Massacre at Soul Glo Farms.

Litman: When Dr. Peter Benton died. Gone too soon.

5. What is your favorite superhero movie? Where does ‘Logan’ rank in relation to it?

Concepcion: In order: The Dark Knight Rises, Logan, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Ryan: The Dark Knight, Iron Man 3, and Chronicle, though that last one is cheating a bit.

Chalk it up to recency bias, and Logan’s final third being so much more coherent than The Dark Knight’s conclusion, but I’m going to say Logan is the best.

Rubin: I really love Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Logan is probably just behind The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises for me, but ahead of Batman Begins. I could see this rising up the ranks after a second viewing, though. Even though I saw it on opening weekend, the hype was already so extreme that it colored my assessment a bit; when that fades and I can just appreciate the film on its own merits, I think I’ll like it even more.

Herman: Any movie operating in the “do it like Nolan” tradition is inevitably going to be indebted to Nolan, so yes, The Dark Knight remains untouchable. Writing the playbook is inherently better than cribbing from it, though I’d say Logan is probably the best dark-and-gritty riff outside the Batman franchise, in no small part because he’s the character who makes the most sense for one.

Robinson: My favorite is a tie between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, but this surpasses both.

Schube: I guess it’s got to be The Dark Knight, though I’ve got a soft spot for X2 for pure heart. Logan sits on or slightly below the top shelf, next to similarly stylish and innovative movies like Iron Man and X-Men: First Class.

Litman: X2, another movie fixated on adamantium! It feels like a disservice to compare Logan with its prequels.

6. Did you view the passing mentions of seemingly important plot points (the Westchester incident, Xander Rice’s experiments, Canewood conspiracy) as effective storytelling devices or distracting yada-yada-isms?

Rubin: This bugged me. I don’t want overly long explanatory tangents, but I also don’t want crucial backstory hinted at but never fully explained — especially when it relates to the eventual demise of an iconic, essential character or the suppression and reengineering of mutantkind. That’s big stuff to yada-yada.

Concepcion: The oblique references to events worked for me. But having read the Old Man Logan limited series, I feel like I kind of know what those offscreen events were.

Dobbins: As a non-comics person, the fast-forwarding was both effective and extremely welcome. I do not need universe building to understand that experiments can go wrong and that Professor X probably did a few things he regrets. The extra lore just weighs the movie down.

Schube: Extremely effective — about half the time. Shushing the Westchester incident made us work a little harder to understand the specific ways in which X and Logan are broken, which was great; Withnail charging in with a last-10-minutes spiel about how Mutants Are Bad turned him from a creepy scientist into a garden-variety X-villain, which was not.

Robinson: Glad it was kept on the periphery. This was a character piece and didn’t need to be weighed down with getting into all of that. En media res with minimal expository filler is the ideal storytelling method for these types of films.

Litman: I assumed the Westchester incident was covered in a movie or comic book that I hadn’t seen, and was surprised that was not the case. It seems generous to account for that narrative gap as an intentional device.

Herman: Violence doesn’t make a movie for grown-ups. Treating audiences like grown-ups does. More exposition in the form of barely audible radio broadcasts, please!

Shoemaker: This was the real victory of the movie. The best superhero movies, so far, are the ones where origin stories are tied up directly with the plot (Captain America) or where they’re already dealt with (Spider-Man 2). This was even better. Like the best comic books, it respects the audience as much as it expects the audience to take it.

7. Should Boyd Holbrook be nominated for Best Actor or Best Supporting Actor?

Rubin: Both.

Schube: Spring trend forecast: bomber jacket, rose-tinted gold shades (vintage Cartier pls), one (1) gold rope, one (1) robotic arm.

Concepcion: Boyd’s performance made me realize that Narcos is not a good vehicle for his talents. He’s like peak Michael Biehn crossed with an evil Matthew McConaughey.

Dobbins: I liked Patrick Stewart, and I’d like to use this opportunity to recommend his wife Sunny Ozell’s Grub Street Diet, which is an excellent read.

Litman: Stephen Merchant is the Best Supporting Actor.

Herman: Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ryan: They should mistakenly give him Emma Stone’s Best Actress award.

8. Seriously, though: Did Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, and X-24 effectively solve the Marvel Villain Problem?

Peters: Helmut Zemo kind of did that in Captain America: Civil War. Instead of the fate of the world hanging in the balance, the stakes of the movie were personal — a conflict between friends, incited by an ordinary man (in comparison to all the other dudes leaping over buildings in unitards) with his own ax to grind. Holbrook, Grant, and X-24 solved it again, but better, if that makes sense.

Schube: No. Holbrook was fun but neutered by his henchman status. Grant was Bolivar Trask in disguise. Professor X and Logan are the secret villains of Logan, but that might be a bridge too far for an already-weird superhero movie.

Concepcion: Not really. X-Men stories are outsider allegories. The villains are just vehicles for the racist ideologies which are the real antagonists. This is why the X-Men have always been the most “modern” Marvel superheroes. They don’t fight villains, they fight ideas. For the Avengers and other Marvel Cinematic Universe properties, villains are just the bad guys in costume, up to no good.

Herman: Logan’s most effective moments of horror are faceless portrayals of corporate greed — the cellphone footage of gore-encrusted operating tables, or hordes of soldiers hunting down children. Holbrook’s character felt like a half-hearted feint at a cool-looking comic-book villain where none was actually necessary, and I doubt he’ll be remembered as a significant part of the movie. Case in point: What was that guy’s name again?

Robinson: Not just the Marvel Villain Problem, but the Too Many Villains Problem as well. Three amazing archetypes that Logan dealt with tremendously.

Rubin: I certainly liked how present (and handsome) they were. The stakes felt more tangible because the villains weren’t just abstractions, weren’t just ideas floating in the galaxy; they were right there to slice open.

Shoemaker: It’s less a villain problem than a stakes problem. When powers are near limitless and often inexplicable, the stakes are unrelatable. At their best, superhero movies work as metaphors, like mythology. In a world of CGI, the possibilities are so limitless that the metaphors are too often swallowed by pixels. In Logan, the stakes were relatable, and the villains were scarier for the realism of their threat.

9. When it comes to superhero movies, do we confuse violence and misery for depth and profundity?

Herman: I didn’t say that — you said it.

Concepcion: Zack Snyder does.

Dobbins: Yes. (“We” do that for most movies, by the way.)

Schube: I love the X-Men movies because they recognize that depth and profundity can be found in allegories for racism, homophobia, and puberty, as well as in kick-ass action sequences.

Peters: Probably. But I just watched Adam Driver eavesdrop on bus passengers and stare at a dam for two and a half hours in Paterson, so I’m fine with that.

Litman: Only in recent years. This conflation came about when auteurs got in the comic book business, and when America felt it needed saving after 9/11.

Shoemaker: That was the trend for years. Marvel’s resurgence was a corrective to that. But violence and misery aren’t hollow — they don’t have to be empty signifiers. Logan proved that misery can have depth — and stakes — for superheroes.

Rubin: Yes, but not in this case. That’s why I loved the “So this is what it feels like” line so much. He’s packing so much into those words. He’s feeling love and a familial bond, but he’s also feeling pain and death and defeat. Those sensations are deeply human and deeply sad. The other really killer line is when Charles tells Logan, “This is what life looks like … People who love each other. A home. You should take a moment. Feel it.” Sure, we all want super powers. But don’t we all really just want to feel at home? That’s a profound idea.

10. What other superhero character — Marvel, DC, or otherwise — would you like to see get ‘Logan’ treatment (i.e. R-rated, actions have severe consequences, unbeholden to film franchise responsibilities)?

Schube: The scenes involving Magneto have always been the X-Men franchise’s most interesting, thanks both to the quality of actor (Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender) and the character’s backstory (brutally separated from his parents during the Holocaust). The Fassbender-wearing-a-flannel-in-Poland bit is just about the only tolerable thing in X-Men: Apocalypse. I’d go in for some more Erik Lehnsherr. Bad guys are more interesting, anyway.

Concepcion: Machine Man, Animal Man, X-Force (volume 3), Martian Manhunter, X-Force/X-Statix.

Ryan: Logan is payoff for all the time we’ve spent with Jackman as this character — through good, bad, and unwatchable movies. It’s like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven; it was a meditation on every Western protagonist he’d played, not just William Munny.

You can’t just say, we’re going to make a Logan for Spider-Man; the audience has to have a relationship with the performer and part. That being said, I’d love if other X-Men story lines were treated with the same seriousness as Logan. Cue up the Johnny Cash for Sophie Turner as Dark Phoenix.

Robinson: I feel like everyone will say Batman or Punisher, but I’m gonna go with Hulk here.

Rubin: Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk. The ideas and the angst are there already, and it would be awesome to see them explored by panning in and going small rather than panning out and tossing him off of increasingly tall buildings to get his blood up.

Herman: The reason Hulk hasn’t gotten a stand-alone movie in the current era of the MCU probably has more to do with Ruffalo availability than a lack of enthusiasm on Disney’s part. Still, after being done dirty by an inane, half-baked romance in Age of Ultron and incurring some of his franchise’s most egregious consequence-free mass destruction on an African metropolis, Bruce Banner deserves a movie that takes into account the true horror of his situation. The inevitable consequences of the military-industrial complex, the loss of control, the repression of what may ultimately be his true self — that’s some dark shit!

Shoemaker: Not a superhero per se, but this is how they should make Gotham Central. And as much as I enjoyed Punisher in Daredevil, he’d be perfect for a movie with a definitive beginning and end.

11. Do you want an X-23 movie? Would you accept Jackman coming back as Wolverine in another Marvel film?

Peters: Actually, I demand a Mangold X-23 movie. And after that I want an entire X-Force trilogy. But Jackman left it all out there. Don’t exhume him for another Wolverine movie. Any and everything after this is going to feel like watching Gretzky in a Kings jersey.

Schube: Sure! These movies are based on comic books. To allow the individual movie units to be beholden to actions and consequences doesn’t mean we can’t keep churning out confections. If you’re stuck on Wolverine being dead, you’re buying into the Marvel Universe anyway. Make 10 Wolverines! Jackman has spent the better part of my life playing Wolverine. It clearly means more to him than it might to me (and Victor Conte). His is among the strangest careers in Hollywood. I’ll buy two tickets to that any day.

Herman: Finality is Logan’s greatest virtue, and exactly what gave Mangold and Jackman the freedom to do what the movie is getting so much attention for. So no, Jackman shouldn’t return no matter how many gold-plated infinity pools Fox promises to finance, even if Logan’s 2029 setting makes it relatively easy to turn back the plot without doing continuity somersaults. I’d love to revisit X-23 once she assimilates into Canadian society and settles down in a dope Vancouver loft, though.

Rubin: (1) Yes, definitely, she’s dope. Rictor also seems like a good hang. (2) I’d accept it but I hope it doesn’t happen. This really felt like the end. Even a return in an earlier timeline would still fuck with my emotions too much.

Dobbins: I would watch many movies about Laura (or many movies starring Dafne Keen, who was excellent). Give Hugh Jackman a vacation, though.

Robinson: Yes, to an X-23 movie but aged up to be a teenager. I wouldn’t accept Jackman coming back, this was his mic drop.

Concepcion: Logan must remain dead. I’m fine with an X-23 movie. That said, I would reboot the entire Fox X-universe.

Litman: No and yes. Hugh Jackman is a wonderful entertainer.

12. BONUS Q: What do you think of ‘You’re Next’ and ‘Blair Witch’ director Adam Wingard’s theory here:

Dobbins: Oh god.

Rubin: CAIRN QUIVER COME AT ME!

Herman: STOP TRYING TO MAKE WOLVERINE’S RESURRECTION HAPPEN. IT’S NEVER* GOING TO HAPPEN**.

*probably

** in five years, when this superhero film getting acclaim for being mid-budget and self-contained inevitably spawns a 10-figure franchise.