Defiant Decency in Logan
"Logan wears its influences on its sleeve: Director James Mangold has his characters watch scenes of Shane on a hotel TV, and Johnny Cash plays over the credits. Here is the superhero as aging gunslinger, a midnight rider who knows God’s gonna cut him down. And it works. The scenes of familial bonding among the odd trio of Logan, Xavier, and Laura are surprisingly touching. The best part is seeing Logan, once a feral berserker, gruffly instruct the lab-raised Laura on the niceties of social interaction, like using silverware, and not shoplifting.
Though Logan’s world is dark, there’s a defiant decency in many of the side characters, from the nurse who saved Laura from scientific captivity to the farm family that offers the heroes a home-cooked meal. Like our protagonists, the setting is scarred but not irretrievably broken—there are forms of love and service humble enough that no dystopian future or scientific regime can stamp them out.
One of those humble, persistent loves is the responsibility of fatherhood. The film provocatively suggests that it can be easier to harden yourself to fight for someone than to soften your heart enough to give them care. The story calls on old man Logan both to protect his cub and to open up to her—even if the latter is, for him, much more wrenching."