By: Kelly FitzGerald
I had the chance to see Logan at the ArcLight in Hollywood and can’t say that I’ve seen a greater superhero film. Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as Wolverine was both nostalgic and invigorating, especially given his new role…
*SPOILER ALERT* as a father. Despite the suffering he endures with the arthritic aches of his metal claws, Logan continues fighting on with a heart of gold.
Though I haven’t seen all the films in the X-Men series (and don’t know the ins-and-outs of every character), I think Logan stands on its own as a the most epic superhero film of all time. It is explicitly gruesome and profane but at the same time beautiful, heart-wrenching, and utterly human. Being familiar with Hugh Jackman’s character in previous films is essential to fully appreciating his final performance, as his physically spent appearance pays tribute to former excursions. The arthritic pain he suffers as his adamantium claws grind through his knuckles is particularly sad, reminding viewers that superpowers are both a blessing and a curse.
The real discussion if this film concerns Dafne Keen’s performance as Laura, Logan’s daughter. There is something instantly special about her from the glare she casts through the rear windshield of her guardian’s SUV. Her role becomes quickly apparent as her eyes burn through every nearby soul, bottled up with anger just waiting to explode. Her acting shines through physical expression alone, remaining mute until the very end of the film. Her automutism is particularly relevant to our class discussion this week regarding Jane Campion’s The Piano, which also includes a mute character (Ada). Not only are they both women, they both present mutism as a choice of defiance. While it is not clear why Laura chooses not to speak, it can be assumed that it’s because of her isolated and torturous upbringing, bred as an experiment for a biotech corporation in Mexico. According to the article, ‘Logan’: Who Is X-23 and How Does Her Onscreen Portrayal Differ from the Comics?, however, the origins of Laura’s mutism relate to prostitution.
“In the comic world, her origin story is somewhat similar to that of the one presented in X-Men Evolution, as she is still the 23rd attempt at creating a clone of Wolverine albeit with a much darker twist sans Hydra. In Laura’s first appearances at Marvel Comics, in a series titled NYX, she was a mute prostitute who cuts herself with her own claws to ease her pain.”
In both cases, Laura’s silence is a choice she makes because of outside oppression. In making this choice she actively defies her oppressors, clearly captured through the ferocity in her eyes and physical aggression (yes, she has claws too—and freely uses them). Keen’s emotive acting abilities are incredibly impressive given her lack of professional background (she is only 11-years-old, after all), mastering the intense physical communication required for this character.