What becomes of the hero when he is no longer needed?
What happens to the gunslinger who hangs up his gunbelt?
What is the fate of the knight who slew the last dragon, the soldier whose wars are long over, the warrior who has seen all his friends and loved ones die … the cowboy who realises that killing is a brand on his soul that will never come off?
There is no such thing as a Retirement Home For The Formerly Fantastic Action Hero (except, perhaps, The Expendables movies). Valhalla is for dead heroes only. There is only a lifetime’s memories of regret and pain and hurt, both received and inflicted, waiting for the hero at journey’s end.
Happily ever after is not on the agenda. To quote one wit, a man stops being a hero when he is happy.
And judging by the Wolverine of 2029 in Logan, he – and the world – are unhappy indeed.
Logan is Hugh Jackman’s swansong for the Canadian mutant with the adamantium claws, mutant healing power and surly attitude.
And the critics are right: it is Jackman’s Unforgiven.
As someone who has read the X-Men and Wolverine comics for years, I can attest it is a tone-perfect final outing for Wolverine. It’s dark. It’s brutal. It’s unforgiving. And it’s not for kids, even if one co-stars in it.
You could even call it “the X-Men’s Dark Knight”.
Jackman’s pain – and the pain etched into Wolverine’s soul after more than a century of being an unkillable superhero – stays with you long after you leave the cinema.
Which brings me to my main point: it is time “the critics” got over their prejudice about superhero movies.
It is time to look beyond the critical stigma attached to “comic-book films” and realise that they have something worthy to share about life, suffering and the human condition. (And what are comic books, except a newish medium for the communal campfire at which stories, myths and legends were told for millennia?)
It is time a fantastic outing such as Jackman’s gets the recognition it deserves.
In short, Jackman should be nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for 2018 for Logan.
There is nothing stopping Jackman getting the nomination apart from the belief that the superhero crowd aren’t considered high art. Take a look at Jackman’s performance and tell me you don’t see every aspect of the acting craft in there.
Don’t take my word for it. Go see it for yourself.
Then go tell the Academy if you agree.
My ebook military thriller The Spartan is out now on Amazon.