The Two Classic Movies That Inspired Logan
James Mangold finally received an R-rating and was able to give Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine the big-screen treatment that he deserved in 2017’s “Wolverine.”Logan. The mythmaking behind the superhero genre is deconstructed.LoganThe Oscars’ first ever Best Adapted Screenplay nominee was based on superhero comics.
LoganIt’s closer to Martin Scorsese’s definition of “cinema” than any comic book blockbuster. And that’s precise because an old did not look to comics for inspiration said. Instead, he looked at previous movies. Wolvie’s bitter near future characterization from Mark Millar was used. Old Man LoganMangold combined the father/daughter road-trip story as a jumping-off point. Paper MoonThe classic western’s themes of an antihero trying to escape a violent past are explored through the hero’s theme who fails. Shane.
Peter Bogdanovich’s New Hollywood classic Paper Moon is about conman Moze and his potential daughter Addie. They are played by Tatum O’Neal and Ryan O’Neal. The two form an unlikely bond as Addie proves herself to be a competent con artist over the course of the journey. At the age of 10, Tatum O’Neal was awarded the Oscar Best Supporting Actress award for this movie.
A father and his daughter bond over selling stolen Bibles to widows, and he and his daughter also sell stolen whiskey back from the bootleggers from whom it was stolen. However, the common thread that runs through both movies is the emotional core of a gruff father figure slowly becoming close to his daughter. Paper Moon, Logan all go to the same place but take very different routes.
George Stevens’ Shane has been hailed as one the greatest westerns. This is due to Alan Ladd in the lead role, Loyal Giggs’ stunning Oscar-winning landscape photography, and, most importantly, its sharp themes. Shane, like Logan, is about an old gunslinger who tries to escape his violent past. The title character in Shane runs into trouble with the hired guns and land barons who threaten his new employers. Logan Wolverine finds himself drawn back to superheroes after his long-lost, cloned daughter becomes the target of a shadowy organization looking to experiment on them. Both characters resist returning to action but eventually do the right thing.
Logan is influenced by the western genre. It falls under the neo-western category, which is a modernized version of the classic western set. The heroes defeat the villains by jumping in front of a fast cargo train and trapping them. There is one difference between this and a simple western: they drive cars rather than riding horses.
Shane has clearly been the film’s greatest influence from the western canon. Charles and Laura literally watched Shane from their Vegas hotel room halfway through the movie. The iconic monologue of Shane’s last scene by Alan Ladd, which moved both Laura and Charles as they watched the movie, perfectly captures the themes Mangold recontextualized into Logan. There is no turning back from one. It’s a brand, right or wrong. A brand is a lasting impression. “There’s no going back.” Wolverine arrives in Logan with decades of killing experience, as well as the trauma from the previous X-Men films. Dark revelations such as the adamantium bullet Logan contemplated taking his own life reveal themselves as the story progresses.
Shane’s fate is ambiguous after Shane ends. Although he takes a gunshot in the torso and rides off into the night, it doesn’t appear fatal. He’ll likely roll to the next territory, settle at another ranch, then be drawn back into action. Logan‘s final act in Hugh Jackman’s on-screen role as Wolverine is more conclusive. Wolverine gives his life to ensure the survival of the next generation of mutants. He encourages Laura not to become the weapon that she was made to be with his last breath.
The final scene in which Logan is buried by the young mutants in a grave with an “X” for a headstone is a tearjerker. It evokes an earlier scene in Shane. This was the solemn funeral for Jack Palance’s legendary villain Wilson. Laura offers a touching tribute to her father, quoting Shane’s “There aren’t any more guns left in the valley” speech. Mangold uses the same poetic words that Shane used in capturing the dark side of western gunfighters’ bloodshed to describe today’s mythical heroes.
Logan is heavily inspired by two classic Hollywood movies. This reminds me of another highly acclaimed R-rated comic movie. Todd Phillips’ Joker was criticized for lifting characters, visuals, and even Robert De Niro’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. But where Phillips’ movie was a shallow imitation of Scorsese’s aesthetic, Mangold dug a little deeper and borrowed themes and ideas.
Logan isn’t a retread of Shane or Paper Moon. Mangold used these movies (and the Old Man Logan Comics) to inspire him to create something new and profound. Logan is here to stay in today’s superhero movie market.