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‘Logan’ is about fatherhood

Micah Peters, writing for The Ringer, on what Logan is really about (assume spoilers):

When Logan begins, there’s any number of directions it could take — a sullen cogitation on violence (what do 10-inch, razor-sharp claws really do to human flesh?); a protest piece in the age of Trumpism (it’s not a coincidence that most non-Wolverine characters are young, nonwhite, and targeted); a prestige drama about death and loss. It is all of these at various points, but the film it chooses to be makes it the superhero movie I’ve been waiting 17 years for: At its core, Logan is about hard-earned pessimism, the inertia in which it suspends you, and the practical difficulty of overcoming both.

The vehicle for overcoming that pessimism and inertia is fatherhood. About a quarter into the movie, Logan is charged with caring for a young girl with adamantium claws who, like him, is given to fits of homicidal rage. Exhausted by life and waiting impatiently to die, he doesn’t want to be the one to teach Laura Kinney — or “X-23” (played by excellent newcomer Dafne Keen) — how to quell those urges, but there’s no one else to do the job. The scene that appears in the trailer, where Charles croaks from the backseat that “someone has come along,” turns out to be in reference to a family whose truck was run off the road. But really, it’s an epigram for the movie: a call to lead by example.

A beautiful piece about what these movies can mean.

  • NotImpressive

    I’ve been trying to understand why I think this position doesn’t hit home for me. I’m a father of two young boys and I cherish my role as father to them. It means everything to me. And I have to say that elements of fatherhood in Logan had zero emotional resonance with me which is really unusual for me as a filmgoer. In fact, I felt a greater sense of father / child connection between Prof X and Logan with Logan as the devoted son caring for his deteriorating father. That hit me pretty hard in a few cases actually.

    But I just never felt like I saw in the Logan / Laura relationship what I think fatherhood is even under the circumstances they were in. I suppose you could say that Logan comes through as a father as best he can (mostly through protection, defense, security) but you could also say that of an alcoholic dad who only shows up to his daughters soccer games. It’s something, but it’s not what fatherhood is. It’s not “enough” for the child or parent. I wouldn’t expect Logan to become much of a father in the span of a few days, but I thought the filmmakers could have given us and him a bit more. Maybe just a single earned embrace between Logan and Laura. That would have gutted me. To me, the story could have had X23 be just about any child that he had a reason to care about and the movie could have gone about the same. When someone takes real ownership over a child through birth, adoption, or other, it is transformative in a way that I think Logan got wrong. I think a very old, more mature Logan should have been more deeply emotionally impacted if he was in fact finding himself as “father”. I don’t feel that happened in the film. I don’t think the filmmakers showed us that Logan felt that.