So we all know that Logan is great. According to reviews, it could possibly be the best X-Men movie, best superhero movie, and all that good stuff. After seeing it twice, I realized that I’m very good at preparing myself to not have to get up to go to the bathroom during long movies and that the movie purposely doesn’t tell us a lot of things. It hints at certain aspects of the plot without actually opening a can and spilling it all on the floor for us to see. This movie is a great comic book movie but it is also just a great movie overall because of what it doesn’t tell us. This will have spoilers so if you haven’t seen the movie yet then go watch it and then circle back — we’ll still be here, don’t worry.
New Mutants haven’t been born for over 25 years and the ones who are left are an adamantium shell of their former selves. Most notably Caliban, Xavier, and Wolverine are all beaten down, broken, and maybe a little crazy. Most of the backstory is told through dialogue and radio host banter rather than showing or just telling us. Caliban helped to round up mutants back in the day and even worked for some of the bad guys; there’s no redemption story there it’s just Donald Pierce using his voice to remind us how much we want to see Gambit on screen again to indirectly let us know more about Caliban.
Maybe he used to be a super evil dude, maybe just used to be a mutant for hire, but we don’t know and we don’t need to know, which makes his sacrifice that much better because we didn’t know what was motivating him. He knew all along that Logan wasn’t planning on taking him on the Sunseeker with him and yet he still helped keep Xavier hidden and relatively safe.
This brings us to Xavier which might be the most tragic story and possibly the best “not told” story in the movie. Xavier had always been the intelligent, level-headed leader who could always use his mind to help solve most situations. Except for stopping Magneto from using a coin to kill Kevin Bacon, but other than that he’s pretty good at what he does. Now we see him as a senile old man who is rambling about commercials that he probably heard on the radio, and when Logan comes to give him his shot to stop his seizures his uncontrolled powers make it hard; they also make it a little hard to breathe and move. We’re never really told exactly what his seizures do to the average person or average mutant without a healing factor, but again, we don’t need to know exactly what it does.
We’re also not told exactly what brain disease Xavier has, which allows us to use our own reasoning to figure it out. Now, the best thing this movie does is not telling us that Xavier killed most, if not all of the X-Men — or at least all of the X-Men that exist in this universe. Xavier killed them in most likely the same way that he almost killed civilians in the casino, but instead of Logan being there to stop the seizure he wasn’t able to stop it from happening. Xavier’s realization is heartbreaking as he remembers what he did, and that makes it all the more painful seeing him open up with guilt all over his face and tears in his eyes only for him to die seconds later. It was realistic and tragic, and seeing Logan exclaim “It wasn’t me Charles, It wasn’t me” was one of the saddest scenes in a superhero movie to date.
Finally, the movie doesn’t tell us about Wolverine’s clone, but it does give subtle hints. From the opening of the movie we’re shown that old man Logan isn’t the cut ’em up, talk later kind of guy he once was. The movie also doesn’t tell us exactly what’s killing Logan from the inside. We know he’s old and we know that he’s sick, but until Logan himself subtly uses lines like “I know what it is” and “probably what’s killing me right now,” we’re left to assume that he’s just not his old self anymore, but it’s more of an Itachi situation where he isn’t his old self and he’s got a sickness in him.
Having Logan’s clone X-24 kill not only Xavier, but the family they end up staying with (who might have died for no reason) was a reminder of the “sins of the past.” A reminder for Logan that he can never truly escape his origins. His Wolverine: Origins. (I’ll hold for applause, that joke was S+.) Aside from the family being tragically slaughtered, the movie handled every scene and set piece well and seeing Wolverine constantly thinking about how easily he would be able to kill all of those soldiers if he was young, and us knowing that he was once able to do so really brings the movie home.
As everyone has said, this movie is great but there are layers to its greatness. This movie treats its audience like adults and doesn’t try to dump exposition onto us and allows the movie to explain things in its own time. Letting us assume that the X-Men died due to whatever killed off the other mutants, or letting us assume that Logan killed them until it’s slowly revealed that Xavier, their leader and teacher, ultimately ended their lives was beautifully done.
The final scene of Laura quoting her eulogy from Shane (the movie Xavier and Laura were watching in the hotel room) and having her turn the cross on Logan’s grave into an X as it slowly zooms in while the children go out of focus shows us that Logan and the X-Men might be gone, but if you look far into the horizon there’s hope and on their last ride, and the last few pieces of the X-Men are what created that last spark of hope.
Just trying to reach for the stars without tripping on a mountain on the way up.