Logan: Last of the old guard
To me, the modern era of superhero films began on November 21, 2000 with the release of the first X-Men movie. To be sure, superheroes had been a part of movie theaters since at least the 1930s and one of the biggest movies of all time Batman came out in 1989. But it wasn’t until the release of X-Men which was the first superhero team movie, had a big budget and used modern special effects is when our modern era of superhero films started.
And over the last 17 years there’s been dozens of other superhero movies to follow like Spider-Man, Hulk and new Batman and Superman movies to name a few. But the one constant over this time is that actors will cycle in and out of roles portraying the heroes. Since 2000, two people have played Batman, two Superman and two The Incredible Hulk. And while this really hasn’t happened for characters like Iron Man or Captain America yet, Marvel has announced that while older characters like those will still be a part of the Marvel movie universe, other characters in other films like Doctor Strange and The Guardians of the Galaxy will be taking their places in future movies.
That’s why it’s so interesting that since the start of the modern era of superhero movies, only ONE actor has played the character of Wolverine consistently over all those years and eight films; Hugh Jackman. Jackman began his career in his native Australia before relatively quickly landing the role of Wolverine which made him an international star.
Logan, aka Wolverine, debuted in X-Men sort’a like he was in the comics at the time — an oddball loner with two incredible powers. Logan can heal himself of any wound almost instantly and has a set of six adamantium covered claws that pop out of his hands whenever he wants to cause mayhem. His backstory is a mystery. The most he can remember is of military experiments that enhanced his powers, hence the claws of adamantium. But the side-effect was to effectively erase his memory. So, with his incredible healing factor Logan might be 30 years old or he might be 130 years old, we/he can’t be sure.
And because we can’t be sure means that Jackman as Logan has been able to pop up in some unexpected places in X-Men movies over the years. There are really two different X-Men movie franchises, the first trilogy that began in 2000 and the second First Class trilogy that began in 2011 and went back into the 1960s to see what the origins of the X-Men with new actors. But a clever plot-twist with the second film in that series Days of Future Past meant that a Wolverine living in our present could be sent back to relive his life and have adventures in the 1970s since Logan would look the same as he does today as 40 years ago.
But all things must end and now comes what’s reported to be the final Wolverine movie Logan, due in theaters March 3. This time, it’s the near future and an older Logan, still Jackman, and a much older Professor X (Patrick Stewart) must protect a girl with special powers from a group of rogue robotic assassins out to steal her for themselves or eliminate her if they must. And it’s up to Logan, who’s healing powers have started to break down, and Professor X, who’s begun to lose his grip on sanity, to save the girl to start a new era of X-Men.
The only thing is this idea of the “last” Wolverine movie. Now I could see it being the last Jackman Wolverine movie, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Wolverine continues long into the future with many different actors all playing that role. Don’t believe me, just ask the likes of Adam West, Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer or Christian Bale if they thought they’d be the last guys to play Batman and see what they say.
Direct Beam Comms #59
Six – Grade: B-
The History Channel, which stopped being a spot on the dial to mostly air historical series/documentaries years ago, is a cable channel without a strong identity. On the one hand it’s a bit like the Discovery Channel that airs these niche reality series like American Pickers and Pawn Stars. On the other it’s a channel that also airs the scripted series Vikings which feels like a FX show. And because of this The History Channel is this weird amalgam channel that really hasn’t felt like a true destination in, quite frankly, forever. Into this jumbled identity was launched the new dramatic series Six last week, which feels like it would fit on a channel like TNT more than The History Channel. While I don’t think Six hurts the identity of The History Channel, it doesn’t help it either.
The cast of Six
In a scene right out of the last act of the film Zero Dark Thirty, Six begins in Afghanistan in 2014 where members of SEAL Team Six are raiding a compound looking for a Taliban leader. When I say “right out of” I mean “right out of,” right down to the way the soldiers stalk through the compound, the intercutting of the grainy night vision footage and even some of the ways the firefights play out. Six does differ in that they don’t catch their man and squad leader Richard ‘RIP’ Taggart (Walton Goggins) executes one of the prisoners who just so happens to be an American collaborator in frustration. Cut to present day. RIP has left the armed forces for a security job in Nigeria and is a wreck of a man. His old squad, now led by Joe ‘Bear’ Graves (Barry Sloane) are having problems of their own with team members wanting to leave for the private sector and more money and animosity over how RIP ended up quitting the service. But when RIP is guarding a visit to a school by a dignitary and is kidnapped along with all the schoolgirls there by terrorists, his SEAL Team Six buddies are all first in the line to go off and rescue him.
Six isn’t a bad show, it’s just so heavy handed that it lacks all subtly. Which isn’t necessarily a negative thing but it makes Six a bit of a slog to watch. In between scenes of the SEAL Team Six members, not so much talking to one and other but grunting and slamming each other into lockers because they’re mad about this or that, there wasn’t a lot of room other than just the guys with muscles and guns part of the story which I can see getting really old really fast.
A series that set the mold Six is following was the CBS series The Unit which ran 2006–2009. I thought that show did a good job of mixing up the story between the adventures the characters in the show went on, here Delta Force Operators, with their home life and even their wives and kids at home. I can see how Six is trying to do this with character’s wives and families playing a part in the show, but most of the secondary characters of Six felt more like TV characters than real people which made me wonder how many more episodes of Six I’d be able to keep up with before bailing to watch something with a little more substance.
The Good Place first season – Grade: A-
The first season of the NBC comedy The Good Place ended last week. This series about a woman named Eleanor (Kristen Bell) who dies and is supposed to go to “the bad place” but accidentally ends up in “the good place” was quite enjoyable. Most of the series dealt with Eleanor trying to become a better person so she could stay in the good place with help from neighbor Tahani (Jameela Jamil) and soul-mate Chidi (William Jackson Harper) with otherworldly good place director Michael (Ted Danson) alternately trying to figure out what’s making the good place that should be perfect out of wack, then trying to figure out what to do with Eleanor after she reveals that she doesn’t belong there.
I liked The Good Place enough but it was one of those series that I could take or leave. I watched it every week, but if it was cancelled and disappeared from NBC’s lineup I wouldn’t have been too upset. That was until I watched the brilliant finale that showed the entire first season of episodes in a new light. The ending was so brilliant/mind-bending/twisting that it makes me want to watch the first season of The Good Place all over again just to see what I had all missed.
Santa Clarita Diet TV spot
Logan movie trailer
“We’ve got ourselves an X-Men fan. Maybe a quarter of it happened, and not like this.”
The Reading & Watch List
This week in pop-culture history
- 1994: The TV series Babylon 5 debuts
- 2002: The Mothman Prophecies opens in theaters