Going to the movies: Logan (2017)

There have been so many great Marvel movies. Ant-Man (2015) surprised us with a good old heist movie, which was a nice change of scale and pace to the super big superhero movies. In 2011 the best movie in the series so far was released, with X-Men: First Class (2011) giving us the most tragic love story between Xavier and Magneto. The first X-Men (2000) gave us a new bar for superhero movies, and then X-Men: First Class raised it, and now Logan (2017) takes it to a whole new level.

I am going to write a spoiler free review of the movie first since most of you have not seen the movie yet, nor read the comic. But at the end of this review I will be discussing a few scenes which made a huge impact on me. Worry not, I will tell you clearly when the spoilers begin.


That’s how good the movie is! First of all forget that this is a superhero movie, because that’s irrelevant. This is a cruel and painful modern western, of that archetypal one last gig. The fact that it’s told with superheroes only adds to the suffering. And this is the movie that proves beyond any doubt that superheroes are not only for kids and “like minded” people. Superhero stories can be meaningful for even the more “serious minded” people.

The story happens in the near future. New mutants have not been born in the last 25 years and age has finally caught up with Logan (Hugh Jackman). He is seriously ill, his healing powers failing on him. Pretty much everyone he knew has died. And he drives a limousine to financially support Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who has grown old and apparently suffers from memory problems. If Xavier is the world’s most powerful mutant, what happens when he starts losing it? There is no hope left for anyone. Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is taking care of him, but he is getting worried about how long he can manage Charles.

And then, on one gig driving the limousine, a Mexican woman recognizes Logan and asks for his help. Her daughter, Laura (the amazing Dafne Keen), needs rescuing. Logan tells them to piss off, but then events start to unfold, and Logan, Charles, and Laura end up running for their lives.

Laura and Logan.


It can not be a coincidence that this movie has lots of walls and fences and people running for safety from Mexico towards the north. The later parts of the movie are set in North Dakota, on the Canadian border. The mutants run for Canada, because the USA is not safe for them anymore, even though it was supposed to be their Eden. And it is amazing how the director and everyone else in the movie have bravely cut off everything that is irrelevant to the main story. The locations don’t really matter, because this is not a road movie. This is the last gig, the desperate run for their lives.

And the fences are not helping. The first fence we run into sets the tone for the story. Things don’t go as planned. You know from then on that no one is safe.

And then there is that one story within the story. The farm. The little hope. The one perfect evening. And the huge towering machines representing the big companies and the threat they pose if given too much power.

And the movie is also about taking care of the nature. There is a lot of rust, collapsed buildings, holes in the walls. This is the post-apocalypse. The future if we don’t take care of our planet. And the movie ends in the lush greens of a great forest.

And it is a movie about taking care of our elderly and of those who have sacrificed so much for us. I couldn’t help but think about the brave people who helped clear off the wreckage of 9/11 and have now been abandoned by the government for their serious health problems they got from that work, not covered properly.

Xavier and the perfect evening.

Final words before spoilers

Wolverine is rated R (in Finland K-16) and it is definitely not suitable for children for all the very graphic violence it features. And it is good that it does, because it they had cut down the violence or made it “easier” or more fun, it would have ruined the movie. You need to see the fact of what it is to kill a person. And you need to see the pain. This movie is not going to make it easy for you. Not one bit.

And then follows a warning. I cried so much during this movie that my shirt was still wet from tears almost two hours after the movie had ended. (I didn’t know that was even possible.) I have not cried this much since the ending of The Bridges of Madison County (1995). But this was through the whole movie. I had a splitting headache in the end from holding back the tears. I had also promised to appear in a panel after the movie as a Marvel expert (!) and I literally couldn’t speak for the first five minutes because I was trying to hold back the tears. And even after I managed to speak, my mind was racing all over the place and I had a really hard time remembering anything that was said to me. It was really embarrassing. :D But the point is, you might want to bring a handkerchief or a dozen with you.

And in the end: a very special mention to Dafne Keen who played Laura. To be so young and so scary and so powerful. You know, the little kid in me was so envious of her to be able to fight alongside Wolverine. Holy sh*t that kid got to do what every one of us were dreaming and still do. She is my hero. A very strong performance. An amazing face. She was like Edward Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). And I love that they didn’t try to soften the movie just because there was a kid there. They let her be a kid (the horse riding scene) but they were never untrue or made light of the story. I am very impressed. Good work, everyone. Good work, Mangold.


SPOILERS! You have been warned!

In the end I just want to point out few scenes that really struck me hard in the movie.

I used to have a dog that was my everything: Roope, a 100 kg Newfoundland. He was the one who took care of me, and I knew I could always trust him. When I felt bad he would come to me and put his head on my shoulder, as if hugging me. I cried so many times with my face pressed against his thick fur. Then I moved out to live on my own. And I always remember the last visit home and the last time I spent time with him. My parent’s house has something like ten steps in front of the door, and I remember Roope whining outside, too scared to go up the steps he used to run up with no problems. And we would be there calling him and trying to encourage him to get up. And the poor dog was getting so old it couldn’t go outside fast enough to take care of his bodily functions, and he was so ashamed of the accidents. When I looked at Xavier crying on the ground, whimpering that this was no life to live, my heart sank. It was the same feeling. The sinking feeling of the one you thought invincible, always covering your back, disappearing into desperation, being so scared. Xavier’s dream gone. Where were his students? Where were the rest of the X-Men? He used to be in control, but now he was in control of nothing.

And then there was that farm and the perfect evening. The dream Charles wanted. He got it for that one last time. And when Laura sees him and starts to scream, I totally lost it.

And the farm itself. The good people, the nice family. And the gratitude that turned into a dying man’s last bitter act of revenge, and Wolverine knowing it would turn sour in the end all along, but he had almost let himself to believe it wouldn’t, not for Charles.

And there were all those funny moments with Charles, that were not actually that funny when you think about it.

The whole movie was about dying. About desperation. About losing all self-regard and dignity. About seeing it all fall into sh*t. And Charles was our measuring tool as to how far we had gone beyond the glory days.

Another interesting scene was when the kids lifted Logan up to the meeting point. I had an instantaneous flashback to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) with the kids placing their faith on that one adult. It was not really shown in the movie (I loved how much of the things were left to just little hints, not explained in full) but the reference to the Mad Max movie and the toy Wolverine one of the children was carrying, and the X-Men comics they all had been reading.

And in the end, I loved Wolverine’s last words. He had been running away from death for so long. I didn’t much care for the words that were said on his grave (I think to appreciate them fully you need have seen the movie they were taken from), but the toy, the “X” on the grave and the rest… by far the best superhero movie so far. The bar has been raised.


(edit: 4 March 2017: Logan is K-16 in Finland, not K-18 as previously stated.)

Going to the movies:
Captain America:
The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America (2011): Poster
Captain America (2011)

I must say I feel sorry for Captain America: The First Avenger. If this movie had come out before Thor (2011) and X-Men: First Class (2011) I would have given it a standing ovation, but now the standards have gotten higher. Compared to the awful Fantastic Four movies, the embarrassing Daredevil movie, and the waste-of-time Elektra movie, Captain America is a masterwork, but unfortunately it’s still not a very good movie. And here’s why…

The plot(s)

As with Thor’s movie, Captain America: The First Avenger is an introductionary story for the Avengers (2012) film. Therefore the story’s plot is quite simple: it tells how Steve Rogers became Captain America. I must admit, I’m not very familiar with his past in the comics, but to my knowledge the movie took quite many liberties with the comics (I will return to this later).

Captain America (2011): Steve Rogers
Steve Rogers before becoming Captain America.

In the movie Steve Rogers is introduced to us as this small, feeble guy with multiple serious ailments making him unfit for the army. He tries to pass muster again and again even though the doctors are pretty much telling him they are in fact saving his life, keeping him out. Finally he gets the attention of doctor Abraham Erskine, who finds Rogers’s mental abilities (honesty, standing up for others, and unyieldingness) just what he’s looking for, and helps him to get into the army. In the army Steve Rogers becomes the first and finally the only person to be injected with super soldier serum, which makes him exactly that – a super soldier.

But he’s not Captain America yet. After an attack from HYDRA, Rogers is left alone. The propaganda department hires him for a show, where he tours the country with showgirls selling war bonds. He makes movies. He has his own comic book (the cover is the real 1st issue cover). Finally his show takes him to the front line entertaining the troops and he finds out his old friend Bucky has been captured by the Red Skull and HYDRA. Against his superior’s orders, Rogers goes on a rescue mission and saves the captured soldiers. Hurrah, Captain America is born!

But that’s not all. After the successful rescue mission, Captain America gathers around a group of soldiers including Dum Dum Dugan and Bucky and they go after HYDRA and Red Skull. A lot happens here, but none of it very important. Something as uninteresting as Bucky’s death takes place, but the story has no time to stop to mourn that, because there’s not much time left and we still need to kill Red Skull! So Captain America goes after Red Skull, fights him in a plane, Red Skull gets killed and Captain America decides to sink Red Skull’s plane, which he’s flying now, into the Arctic Ocean or something – in any case it’s cold and apparently he freezes.

Captain America (2011): Captain and Peggy
Captain sitting on a break with his love interest Peggy.

Then (can you see the problem already) the modern reseachers find him, bring him back to life and hire him for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Also there was a sidestory where Captain America gets into a sort-of-romance with a female colleague from the army. She being the most badass, Terminator-like soldier in the army.

I doubt I even have to tell you what the main problem with the movie was. There was just too much stuff going on in one movie. I don’t know, maybe they should have ditched Red Skull completely or something. Now the first part of the movie was about Steve Rogers becoming Captain America, and then the second part was about Captain America being Captain America and fighting Red Skull. And alongside there was even some romancing, and…

Captain America, the goodie two-shoes

Since there was too much going on for one movie, all the characters were left paper thin. Even Captain America is very one dimensional. Ok, so let’s be frank – Captain America is a very one dimensional character. Where all the other superheroes have at least one flaw to them, Captain America is just the most sickeningly clean, boy scout, perfect superhero there is. There is nothing to make him an interesting character. He just is. Perfect.

This is of course due to the circumstances in which he was originally created. He was created as a propaganda tool during the Second World War and even in his  first issue in the cover he is shown hitting Hitler in the face. Captain America is the ultimate propaganda character, the perfectly good one fighting the ultimate evil. It’s just too bad they kept him the same after the war ended. But that also leads us to the second pitfall which the movie script writers luckily were able to avoid.

Captain America (2011): Captain is born
Captain America is born.

Being the invention of propaganda, Captain America is also a national hero. He is America, everything America symbolizes. In fact, I think I even heard they were wondering if they were even going to publish Captain America: The First Avenger in Europe because they somehow thought he wouldn’t be known here. I suppose in America or at least at Marvel or in the movie industry Captain America is still very much the symbol of everything good in America – or something. Against that background the movie could have been the most sickeningly nationalistic production ever, where the US flag would have  been shown on the background of exploding barrels like in the most horrible examples from the Bush JR era. But thank god, that’s not the path they chose. The part where Captain America tours the country with the showgirls is amazing in the way that it returns the character back to the same level with the rest of us. He’s not turned into this super soldier instantly. Instead he is returned back to his old level as the feeble not-a-soldier he was before he was given the serum. To become Captain America he has to claim that title by his actions. That also being a great message from the movie. You can’t just have everything granted, you have to work to earn the respect of others. And that’s what he does.

The characters and the cast

Once again a superb casting from Marvel and associates!

I learned only later that Chris Evans, who played Captain America, was in fact the same person who played Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies. Aargh! The second Fantastic Four movie with Silver Surfer came on the Finnish TV just now and it was just painful to watch. Hard to believe we are talking about the same actor! But back to this movie. I especially liked the fact that Evans doesn’t have a square jaw. I don’t know why, but that one detail makes him the perfect Captain America for me. Somehow that makes him a normal man next door in my mind and a much more of a nice person. I think a square jaw would have made him too man of steel to be nice. Now he’s a nice guy. But no matter his jaw, he was a very good choice for the part. I also must salute the actor who played Captain America’s body when he was still “just” Steve Rogers. I don’t think he was mentioned in the cast list.

Special thanks go to Hayley Atwell who played Peggy Carter, the woman soldier and the romantic interest of Captain America. I really liked they’d found a woman who has enough spunk to play the part. Unlike Jamie Alexander playing Sif in Thor, Atwell was a believable soldier woman who was able to fill Peggy’s shoes. That’s pretty good for the only female role in the whole movie. Ok, so there were those show girls, that one girl Howard Stark kissed and that blonde, who tried to get into Captain America’s pants, but they don’t really count. Hayley was the only woman in the film who actually had the chance to play a real woman (a character) and not just a stereotype.

Favourite part: when she goes after that car and fires it all cool and collected, even when the other car explodes right next to her. Terminators would be jealous.

Captain America (2011): Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)
Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)
Captain America (2011): Dum Dum Dugan (Neil McDonough)
Dum Dum Dugan (Neil McDonough)

Another very good casting was Dum Dum Dugan played by Neal McDonough. The character of Dum Dum Dugan is a bit of a mystery to me, since I have almost no recollection of the character from the comics, but he was perfect! That hat, that moustache! I love moustaches! And he had enough charisma to steal the show in all the scenes he was in. I hope this won’t be the last we see of him.

The only other character worth mentioning is Bucky (Sebastian Stan). Bucky was originally some kind of a boy scout fighting alongside Captain America, like Robin to Batman. Sort of an understandable character, since the comics were made for young boys, who could identify with Bucky. Poor lad, has a dog’s name. Well, in the movie Bucky is a grown man, who sort of protects Steve Rogers before he turns into Captain America and later follows him. I suppose they had to have Bucky in the movie, and I find it a nice homage to the character who was later ditched from the comics. And just like his comic counterpart, in the movie Bucky loses his life. The only bad thing is, his death serves absolutely no purpose in the movie and is passed in less than five minutes when Captain America tries to solve the problem by drinking, only to find out he can’t get drunk due to his enhanced metabolism.

Also worth mentioning are Tommy Lee Jones playing Colonel Chester Phillips and the unfortunate Red Skull actor Hugo Weaving. Weaving is such a great actor it’s a shame his face is lost somewhere behing the red mask/computer effects and that his role was reduced(?) into such an insignificant part. Basically, in the beginning of the movie we are given the impression he is going to be a huge adversary to Captain America, but in the end he just flees from fights, yells something, and then crashes the plane with Captain America. With all that adoo you would wait to get more out of the character. It’s almost like there were two movies which were crammed into one and the biggest loser in the process was Red Skull.

Captain America (2011): Red Skull (Hugo Weaving)
Red Skull (Hugo Weaving)

More positives?

Well, yes! I must also mention the great costumes. In fact my DVD copy of the movie has an extra feature titled “Outfitting a hero” where they tell about making Captain America’s outfit. Like they say in the documentary, Captain America’s outfit is a classic design, and instantly recognizable, but at the same time it looks pretty silly – especially in real life. I have always found the little wings on the sides of his head ridiculous. I had never paid attention to the boots, but they too caused trouble for the costume designers for the movie. I think the final outfit they made for Captain America is great. The character is still easily recognizable yet at the same time it’s a “realistic” design which could have existed.

To see or not to see?

As I said in the beginning, if this movie had come out before Thor and X-Men: First Class, I propably would have been very happy with it. But since those two movies and especially the latter have proved that it is possible to make a superhero movie which good, period, superheroes or not, I must say I was disappointed with Captain America: The First Avenger. Based on the trailer and all the acclaims I had expected a better movie. Unfortunately the whole thing is just too fractured in storytelling. There is too much going on, and the movie doesn’t have a growth story or anything to keep it together. Captain America is Captain America the second he’s born. Everything after that is pointless. They could have just put him in the freezer and saved us some useless action and concentrated more on the characters.

But still, this is not a bad movie. I would say, if you are into superheroes, go see the film, but if not, save your money for the Avengers movie. That movie was bloody awesome! :D