If there is one thing we’ve come to understand from the DC and Marvel universes it’s that, in the end, bad guys die while heroes only appear to, for a short while.
This trope is what’s kept franchises like Iron Man, Thor, Batman, and Superman running for *so* long. The heroes win, the bad guys lose, and are often kept alive, so there’s always a possible continuation of the storyline. Always another story to follow, even when the original comic stories call for a hero’s death, such as in the Civil War story arc ending with the death of Captain America. Yet, even that decision was retconned, and the Cap is back in action. Again.
I would hope that this is not so for Hugh Jackman’s iteration as the Wolverine.
This movie was the one that I had been waiting for since first watching Tony Stark openly claiming the title of Iron Man back in 2008. With so many near deaths, so many close calls, I waited with very little patience for the death of a major character. Sure, everyone loves a happy ending, but a death makes everything that transpired in the previous two hours feel more real, more like the battle was truly hard fought. Logan’s fight was just that. There were losses on both sides, willing sacrifices of the self for the sake of the good guy’s cause, and, of course, heartbreak. All of these things made the minor victory, in the scale of what other superheros have achieved, feel so much more powerful. Did the Avengers defeat the Chitauri with no losses to their team? Sure, but we expected that. Logan has become a game changer, because it’s box office and critic ratings have put it in the running for the most critically acclaimed superhero movie, with an 8.6 on IMDB and a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Just for reference, multiple Oscar nominee and winner “La La Land” has a 93% Tomato rating and an 8.4 IMDB rating.
These are ratings that few action movies get, because they don’t instill that doubt that the fight will end cleanly, that our hero will come out okay, and that only increases our suspension of disbelief in the story. With Logan there are multiple doubts, there are no safety nets, and there’s a tiny happy ending that barely shows its face because of the looming shadow of death that winds itself through the film.
With contracts ending soon, the Infinity War looming in the near future, and DC gearing up to throw the Justice League into competition with the Marvel cinematic universe, Logan has created a new paradigm: Heroes are not immortal, and that should breathe new life into franchises that were getting predictable and using tropes rather than originality to write their stories. Between the death of Charles Xavier at the claws of X24, or Wolverine’s amazing, beautiful, but tear jerkingly tragic, climatic battle, this has set a new thought in the back of people’s minds; is my hero safe?
That, my friends, is how you get people to put not just their minds, but their hearts and souls into your movie.
Well, that and an R rating. (See: Deadpool)