Changing the Game: Logan and its place in the Pantheon

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing not just once but twice in theaters. This film grossed $85 million at the box office this weekend, making it the second highest opening for an R-rated superhero film and one of the highest R-rated film openings ever. The film stars as the titular character, most commonly known as . In the year 2025, there are no more mutants, Logan is reduced to being a chauffeur, wanting to be left alone with no engagement with the world. He takes care of a sick who was responsible for the downfall of the . However, when a young mutant girl, , comes into their lives, Wolverine must answer if he is a hero or a hermit, if he can reconcile his past sins and rise up or accept that he is only a monster. Along the way, they are chased by a mysterious villain whose goal is to take this girl back.

Yes, Logan is making money. Yes, Logan holds a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, an A- on Cinemascore, 8.7 on IMDB and 77 on Metacritic. It is a success but what makes this film special isn’t that it is a good film. It has transcended the genre, as USA Today puts it, and it has done what few films have done: push the boundaries of superhero films. That’s what makes it great. We hope that this will change the game like so many others have done before it. There is a pantheon of superhero films, ones that transcend or influence the genre. Other Pantheon films include , , and . They are not only fantastic superhero films; they broke ground, pushed the limits of what could be imagined, influenced future superhero films and can be in the discussion for GOAT (greatest of all time). Logan can now be inducted into this legendary level.

How does Logan fit in the Pantheon? Well, it’s not just because it’s R-rated. Blade was R-rated, as was Watchmen and Deadpool. The fact that there is an R-rated comic book film isn’t special. What makes this rating special is that it takes a character, one we have been with for 17 years and played by the same actor, finally get a different rating than PG-13. While the majority of audiences may not have known Watchmen, Deadpool or Blade before they were released, Wolverine was a character that was etched within the fabric of American film culture. Everyone knows who Wolverine is and to see the character treated in a drastically different fashion, while still being true to the core elements of the character, makes for a new audience experience. We see the violence and savagery of not just Wolverine but of the world as well; it is gritty and shows really dark aspects about it.

That leads to another way this film fits into the Pantheon: it transcends the genre. Critic after critic calls it a “western,” from Jon Schnepp of Collider, to Jeremy Jahns to Harry White of Sunday Independent. The look and design of the world is very dry, arid and western. The struggle that an Old Logan goes through and the pain he feels resembles Clint Eastwood or Jon Wayne. He is battle scarred. This is not a classic superhero film with lots of jokes, bright (or grim) tone, and a big superhero battle at the end or an origin story. This film presents it as is and the cat and mouse chase adds in a level of urgency that this film uses beautifully. This gives the feeling of a spaghetti western only with people who can do extraordinary things. This expands the genre, breaking it outside of the box and formula. This is a western first and superhero film second. The Dark Knight was a detective film before being a superhero film. Deadpool is a parody, in the vein of Airplane, more than a superhero film. Logan fits within that.

Not only is it a western but with minor tweaks this becomes an independent, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi western/drama. That’s what makes this great; this is just a great film and not necessarily a great superhero film. With some minor tweaks this would be talked about as an Oscar contender (only because the Oscars don’t seem to like to nominate big superhero movies).

The other thing is how this will influence other superhero films. This was a small character study, focusing on 3 main characters and their relationship. This focused on Logan coming to terms with who he is, what he has done and how he manages to carry on. This is about a girl trying to reclaim, or develop, a sense of humanity and family. This is about an old man who wanted nothing more than goodness in the world; he wanted his legacy to be peace between mutants and humans. Now that old man’s dreams are gone, his mind now his greatest enemy as well as his greatest strength. This hopefully will influence more superhero films to focus more on the characters. We don’t need crossovers, multiple cameos and other tropes to make a good film. It doesn’t need to be grand in scale for battles, plot or world ending stakes. This was about the characters and their stories. Deadpool helped influence studios to take chances, give R-ratings and show that the rating should match the character. Logan does this, too.

Lastly, this film has a team that is very passionate about the character. This goes for Superman, Avengers, Deadpool and The Dark Knight. When a team is super passionate about the project and not just doing it to retain rights (*cough*Fantastic4*cough*) there can be some real magic that is made. Hugh Jackman didn’t play Wolverine for 17 years because he was ONLY getting paid; he did it because he loved the character. Same for James Mangold. And you can see it in the performances which are nuanced, simple and very well done. Studios should hire the passionate people, help when they can and get out of the way when needed. Logan shows us this. Deadpool shows us this and so does the other Pantheon of Superhero films.

Because of its success, the direction it took the character, the out of the box genre and being a great film, Logan takes its place among the other fantastic comic book films. These are the art of the genre, the ones that will forever influence others and will be seen as classics years from now. Logan helped change the game and it changed it for the better. Have a seat Wolverine, you have done well.

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