If you are reading this, I am assuming you have seen the new X-Men / Wolverine installment, Logan, The first “superhero movie” that is actually a fine crafted piece of cinema. I loved this film. I cried many times throughout it. I am not interested in “reviewing” this film, but I have a few points I am interested in exploring.
Realism and Violence
I am not typically a fan of hyper HD. It takes me out of the world and makes me feel disoriented and weird because it’s usually presented more to show off technology than in the actual storytelling process. In Logan, however, the super HD (I know there is a new name for the next level one, but I don’t really care) articulates details of the story. You can see the lines on Logan’s face. The veins, the scars, the cuts, the discoloration that comes with age. Every wrinkle, every gnarled knot of scar tissue serves to present this latest version of a well known character. Every sag of once taut skin reveals the deteriorating cells of a once immaculately regenerative body.
This also makes the intense gore that much sharper. This is a world with consequences. There is no Bobby Drake skating around making snowballs, we have Delilah freezing a Reaver’s arm and smashing it to break his hold on her. It feels very much like the evolution of the genre. It’s not Frank Miller’s dark noire aesthetic. It’s the horrify reality of what manifesting mutant powers would mean to the bodies surrounding the superpowered (like the slashing of Logan and Laura or the insane twig explosion. What the hell WAS that?) within a Western structure. Furthermore, the horror of what an aging Professor X looks like and is capable of, coupled with the pain of accidentally killing his beloved students, presents an anguish that Patrick Stewart executes to heartbreaking effect.
The Nameless Women of Mexico
In this iteration Laura / X-23 and the other mutant children, were carried to term by Mexican women, the only evidence of whom is a series of bloody hospital sheets. It's a sharp imagine of visible invisibility, acknowledgement of existence, while still remaining off camera. The violent manipulation of female bodies as a method of breeding soldiers (or laborers in a capitalist society during times of peace) is a tale as old as the patriarchy. The violation and disposal of Mexican women, however, specifically reminds me of a harrowing essay by Miriam Zoila Pérez, “When Sexual Autonomy Isn’t Enough: Sexual Violence Against Immigrant Women in the United States.” In it she explains the explicit danger Mexican women face when crossing the border (from repeated rape to torture to death) as well as within the U.S. and the heightened danger of being a female immigrant without documentation and the sexual exploitation that often accompanies that status.
From the sea of blood and government sanctioned invasion, rises Gabriella, a Mexican nurse who provides the only documentation of Transigen's cloning operation, acts as Laura’s surrogate mother, and helps many of the children escape the hospital. I hate that she is killed. I hate that these are the only adult women in this story (besides one other brave woman of color who is also brutally murdered EDIT: I just realized every adult character dies, but still). I understand this is a specific story, and a very well told one, I just need more adult women being seen and heard, you know? I only hope the memory of those bloody hospital beds sticks in people’s memories the next time someone chants about building walls or votes against defunding international women’s organizations. (EDIT: Literally no one is talking about this in all the reviews and analysis and it is blowing my mind and maybe proving my point about visible invisibility.)
Child Refugees versus the Military-Industrial Complex
The climax of this film shows a bunch of Latinx kids (along with their trusty Canadian friend / paternal figure / personal hero / did you see Bobby with his vintage Wolverine toy??) taking down a corrupt body policing biotech military group on their way to freedom and a hug from Justin Trudeau. The refugee children that were created by the big bad corporation have to destroy them on their way to freedom. This also opens the door to a new generation of super diverse mutants. The sacrifice of mothers often paves the way for the next wave of growth and progress.
I love this, but the politics of this world are complex. Mutants have been all but wiped out. Charles has accidentally killed X-men and civilians. X-genes have been sampled and used in attempts to weaponize children and manipulate female bodies. Are mutants too dangerous to take care of themselves? What happens when mutants age? How does the X-gene evolve and affect the deterioration of cells? Which X-men did Charles kill? AND WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ERIK??
On a serious note, there are real children who are actually displaced out there. Children who have done nothing wrong, but have had the bad luck of being born in a place where conflict is happening. Conflict that our government has had a large hand in (and both parties are guilty of waging it). I won't belabor the point, but I hope this helps open the dialogue for folks who didn't quite have an entry point. Basically, I hope the magic of comic book characters can break through some cognitive dissonance.
Things I Found Delightful
Laura yelling in Spanish and punching Logan in the face
Shane (1953) and the eulogy
Laura turning the cross into an X
Bobby and his Wolverine action figure
The blue tinted shot of Charles in the big metal thing with light holes
Caliban's last stand
Caliban's desert outfit
Charles' final speech to not Logan
Everything about the Munson's except when they die
Laura's unicorn shirt
Everything about this version of Charles Xavier
"So this is what it feels like... Don't be what they made you."