We keep hearing from some quarters about “superhero fatigue”, in that many people are apparently getting fed up of seeing the myriad of different takes on such comic book pulp, and yet the critical and commercial success of these films continues to defy such doom-mongering and go from strength to strength. By any objective standard, American superhero films continue to do well – there is no disputing their box office pull, and the deep and varied well of the decades of source material they draw inspiration from provides a consistently varied and interesting series of approaches that seems to (more often than not) get even the sharpest of critics onside.

Even though the X-Men series of films seems to be doing fine by itself, something interesting about its studio’s approach is that they’ve started to look at the more left-field, experimental storylines and characters of the long-running comic book. Hence the violent, adult-oriented likes of Deadpool last year, and now here we get a surprising adaptation of a series of stories linked to the final days of the franchise’s most popular character – Wolverine. Given that Hugh Jackman (and his co-star Patrick Stewart, providing a similarly final reprise here of his Professor X role) is simply getting too long in the tooth to play the part any more, this perhaps shouldn’t be entirely surprising, but that’s to take nothing away from what is a daring and tonally very surprising film that adopts a sombre and almost depressingly grown-up approach to ostensibly juvenile subject matter.

The series has never been shy of tearing up what has gone before (indeed, arguably its strongest film, 2014’s Days of Future Past, explicitly discarded previous entries by engineering a new timeline), and there is a brutally stark attempt to do that here. Gone are the spandex suits and save-the-world scenarios, instead we find Wolverine making ends meet as an Uber driver and his former teacher Professor X suffering from Alzheimer’s, having seemingly killed the rest of the X-Men team after suffering some kind of mental seizure. In fact, Logan himself dismisses some X-Men comic books as exaggerated fantasies at one point, implying that the previous films we have seen were similar propaganda. It’s a grim and sombre setting throughout the film, made more so by its wholehearted embrace of some truly shocking violence, but ultimately this is a tale of hope and redemption, even for truly lost souls.

A genuinely serious and grown-up treatment of comic book source material9
A surprisingly accurate, no-holds-barred depiction of Alzheimer's10
More of a redemptive Western allegory than a superhero story about saving the world9
Still very slightly confined by the tropes and cliches of comic book fare though7
A thoughtful and poignant elegy for an iconic modern film character9
Bechdel Test passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel test failures
  • n/a
9Overall Score

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