Up front spoilers alert: I’m talking about Logan this week without a filter. Whether you like superhero movies or not you should go see it and get wrecked, because it’s not really a superhero movie and it’ll rip out your heart like no other ex ever could.
There is some valid debate about which characters knew certain things and which ones were responsible for certain events that set the whole movie in motion. Was it Professor X who unwittingly wiped out a big chunk of mutants because his abilities backfired as he aged? Did Logan resent him for it? Was it more a sense from both of them that they had failed humanity by letting the government hunt down mutants?
The movie suggests no single Truth. And while we’d like it to, as we would with anything else, it often isn’t possible because Truth is subject to what an individual believes. What I believe ultimately took place is Professor X and Logan each continued to accept the same Truth they always have about themselves, their peers, and the world as long as we’ve known them.
Xavier’s lifelong Truth was one tied to a positive outlook – a position he held so firmly it might best be represented by a carrot on a stick. To him mutantkind shouldn’t only describe a person but should describe their actions, too. And even more than that he wanted mutants to understand and accept themselves.
He was not a foolish man, though. He knew that wasn’t an easy ask. That’s why he spends his dying moments enveloped by the doubt of a question that may well nag us all: “Was I enough?” Whether he was responsible or not for the event in Westchester, where his School For Gifted Youngsters was, he went to the grave feeling the weight of that responsibility square on his chest. As such, he died the only way he knew, deep down, that he could. Consumed by the love he so desperately wanted to buoy the future.
Logan, meanwhile…Ahh, Logan. Fuck, Logan! As I tried to prewrite for this post I spent most of a page detailing loose thoughts about my favorite exposed-nerve-hero. About the beatings he embraced because physical pain was nothing compared to what he wrestled mentally. About the way he turned into more of an animal the older he got. About discussing without reservation how he was a disappointment. About how all these things seem to reinforce a reckless abandon for his own well being, but how deep down I never really believed that about him.
And then it clicked. Remember how he says to Laura toward the end, “bad shit happens to people I care about?” Why else should he put himself in front of armed locals at a truck stop when exhausted and half drunk? Why insist on attacking X-24 with the dynamism he did? Why decide to be around the ticking time bomb that Professor X appeared to be? If we’re to believe what he says about what happens to the people for whom he cares, we have to include himself in that statement.
You could argue he repeatedly put himself in those situations out of a sense of obligation to others. I wouldn’t challenge you. But I would say there’s more to it than violent altruism.
Both Charles and Logan are forced to death by the very things that made them so special. And that is so perfectly Universally Specific. We simply cannot wrap our heads around the balance the universe insists upon. It makes our heads spin, our hearts hurt. We see Charles buried near water, the universal solvent. We see Laura turn the cross at Logan’s grave to an X. And good god, we’ve never been closer to the earth when watching what’s supposed to be a superhero movie. James Mangold said he “wanted to make a movie less about information and more about character.” He did, and we got a Truth as far from deniable as could be.
*I wanted to include Laura/X-23 in this post but want to give her the attention she deserves. She’ll be featured independently in next week’s #WednesdayWhittling.