It seems like every year I end up starting an article with something along the lines of “It’s a great time to be a comic fan” or “Comic book fans old and new are living the veritable dream” or “If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does”. This of course means that either a new comic book film has hit theaters or, better yet, a trailer has dropped which will raise your imaginations up on eagle’s wings and bear it down the path of joy without the nasty aftertaste of badness that can potentially follow. (*coughcoughSuicide Squad*)
So the trailer for Logan dropped a bit ago. I’m sorry I did not pounce upon my keyboard the day that it did, but I was not interested in being one of the first people to write about it and I’m also not very interested in dissecting said trailer scene by scene either. Instead, I am here to tell you that I watched the trailer and I’m looking forward to the film.
No, wait, please, come back and hear me out. Yes, I’m excited about the film, but what was it that truly piqued my interest? What little action they show looks fine, yes, and quite frankly you could play that Johnny Cash cover in front of a trailer for Jack & Jill 2 and you would have scores of folks admiring how thoughtful and different the film seemed. So what was it? Was it the inclusion of a seemingly near-death Professor X? Was it the reveal that X-23 is going to be a major part of the flick? Was it the guy with the metal arm? Was it the Johnny Cash song? No, I just said it wasn’t that! Alright, peep the trailer below and pay special attention around the 1:12 mark...
That’s what I’m excited to see. I know what you’re thinking, and to answer your question, I’m a helluvalot of fun at parties. Seriously, though, in this unorthodix film about mutants being hunted by soldiers, there is a moment where our three leads are sitting around a table sharing a laugh. Now before I am accused of being a snobbish fuddy-duddy, let me once again proclaim that I enjoy spectacle as much as the next person. But for a moment, I am simply asking you to put spectacle aside (it won’t run away) and bear with me for a short time. Avengers: Age of Ultron was a movie enjoyed by most (the first was better) and seen as a fine addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When asked about the film, you would generally hear about how Iron Man vs Hulk rocked and was the best part of the flick. Aside from that scene, though (which was pretty neat), when folks talk about other great things in the movie, whether they be critics or not, invariably the scene on the farm is almost always immediately mentioned. And I don’t mean the moment where the movie decides to have Nick Fury sip coffee and casually talk about how Ultron is taking over the world instead of showing it to us. I mean the moments where Iron Man and Captain America argue about ideology and Black Widow and Bruce Banner talk about what they’ve gone through in the past and what the future might hold for them. These moments make the film and amazingly enough they do not involve any kind of laser being shot into the sky.
I’ll give you another one. Remember Suicide Squad? You know, that sentient iTunes playlist featuring 7 minutes of Jared Leto dressed as a clown and little else? Other than the fact the film contained strong performances in general, the one scene that everyone agrees is the best is the one where they all go into the bar and talk. It’s too little and too late by that point, but when I was watching it, something magical happened -- Suicide Squad turned into a bona fide movie. And aside from a smoking-hot flashback, there was not one moment of action. I’m sure you get the idea, but I got one more for ya...
Star Wars, Episode--hey, come back here! Like I was saying, Star Wars Episode II:Attack of the Clones is... is... the best film featuring Ewan MacGregor fighting a giant monster I’ve ever seen. Yes, even better than Jack the Giant Killer. But again, putting the action aside, there is a moment where Darth Tyranus is talking with Obi-Wan, who has been imprisoned. Tyranus mentions Qui-Gon Jinn and stops for a moment and says, “I wish he was still alive. I could use his help right now.” Now, he could be lying, but seriously, though, that moment is oozing sincerity. There is more story in those two lines than all 3 prequels combined. Forget about The Force, the Death Star, and how rough sand is. You’re looking at a man, one who has unfortunately turned away from good, and you are witnessing him remember a friend and mourn his passing, and it is infintely more interesting than anything the plot has to offer. Forget about a Han Solo solo film or a Bobba Fett flick. I want to know more about Count Dooku (despite the silly name) and all it took was a 3-second display of thoughtful humanity.
Any fan of a comic or series of novels that is about to have their baby adapted for the silver screen talk about wanting to see their favorite characters and worlds come alive. And ultimately they will be gifted grand set pieces and flesh-and-blood representations of the fictional folks they hold dear. But how often do we really see them come alive? These moments I’ve described are examples of popular characters being given true life without the support of seeing them in action or overtly servicing the plot. Instead, these little peeks at our beloved heroes and villains in moments of vulnerability tend to serve a higher idea and oftentimes that idea is the true beating heart of the film. The plot is important, of course, and must be taken care of. Strong character building is the nasty green vegetable that every growing plot needs to be strong but one that some folks in charge would rather childishly avoid in favor of sugar and spice. So, that nice moment I told you about in the Logan trailer might not even make it into the film. Hell, the moment could exist and the film could still be terrible. The point is, though, that it gives me hope. Some folks might call me naive in wanting to place high hopes around a superhero flick, but to quote a certain prison film based on a story from Stephen King (no, not The Green Mile; the other one): hope is a good thing.
I’ve written before about how each comic book movie offers its own rewards and that there is obviously not one way in which they should all be made. Some look for the more harsher stories while others embrace youthful wonderment. The world of Logan appears less polished than all of the other X-Men films with more of a tactile feeling. I won’t use the term “gritty” because that term died a horrible death after being savagely beaten into the ground around 2008. Logan looks to be a serious and violent film, but the scene around the table I talked about above, and even the moment where X23 is cradling Wolverine while he sleeps, signal an intent to go beyond just showing us these characters but actually allowing them to live and breathe in a way we’ve not seen yet. Will it work? I have no idea, but I have a sneaking suspicion that, while this may be the last time we see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, it might be the first time that we truly get to know him.