First impressions are everything, and in Logan, director James Mangold makes a great one.
Without relying on heavy exposition or nostalgia for the past, Mangold uses tension, brutal violence, and gorgeous visuals to introduce us to a new X-Men world, one in which mutants are near extinct and Wolverine is a distant memory.
Out of the dozens of superhero movies that have been released over the years, Logan’s opening scene is the best I’ve seen. It perfectly establishes a gritty, violent tone that’s beautifully juxtaposed by the movie’s quieter, more introspective moments.
Note that there are spoilers ahead
When the movie begins, we find Logan passed out in a limousine on the side of a lost highway. Latin music blares outside as Logan is jostled awake, his limo rocking back and forth as if he’s on a boat. When Logan stumbles outside, he finds a group of thieves trying to steel the limo’s tires.
The altercation is more of an annoyance than anything. Logan is tired, weary, and wants nothing more than to medicate with alcohol. But the thieves are having none of it, and before Logan can step in, he gets buckshot right to the gut, blowing him off his feet.
Last year, Mangold shared page two from the Logan script, which sums up how the movie is a different kind of superhero story.
Now might be a good time to talk about the “fights” described in the next 100 or so pages. Basically, if you’re on the make for a hyper choreographed, gravity defying, city-block destroying, CG fuckathon, this ain’t your movie.
In this flick, people will get hurt or killed when shit falls on them. They will get just as hurt or just as killed if they get hit with something big and heavy like, say, a car. Should anyone in our story have the misfortune to fall off a roof or out a window, they won’t bounce. They will die.
As for our hero, well, he’s older now and it’s clear his abilities aren’t what they once were. He’s faing on the inside and his diminished healing factor keeps him in a constant state of chronic pain—hence booze as a painkiller.
So by all means, go ahead and worry about him.
When Logan slowly rises to his feet, the thieves are baffled. We, as an audience, know they’re about to die.
Logan extends his claws and proceeds to rip the thieves to shreds. But it’s not an easy fight—a bout he’s in no condition to partake in in the first place. He gets stabbed, shot, and beaten to hell. He gets hurt, just like a normal person.
But before the thieves get the best of him, Logan reaches a point of rage that takes him to a new level. Legs and arms get sliced off, heads get impaled, and numerous dead bodies are left in his wake. It’s murder—albeit Logan was defending himself and his only source of income.
In just five minutes (maybe less), Logan sets a tone without taking a breath. This isn’t a campy movie about heroes saving the world. Logan is a realistic look at a forgotten hero who is slowly, painfully dying. And he wants to die, too, which makes it all the more sad.
I wish I had the movie to watch so I could dissect the scene even further; the colors, the sound, the indifferent attitude of Logan. It was an experience watching in theaters that’ll I won’t soon forget.
There is a place in Hollywood for comic movies, films that appeal to both younger and older audiences. But Logan’s opening scene is better than all of them—and it’s a great scene in general, comic book movie or not. It sets the tone for a brutally violent movie that just so happens to feature a few mutants.
I’ll take that over Batman and Superman fighting any day of the week.