Let me begin by stating that although I’m a huge fan of comic book movies, I do feel that the preoccupation of creating a global box-office and merchandising behemoth, glossed over by hyper special effects and characters who passively exist to push action and consequence, has come to a critical mass. Evidence of this can be found in the excessively loud trailer for Justice League (I’m only guessing Zak Synder didn’t learn anything from the reaction to Batman v Superman) or Spider-Man Homecoming, which seems to be a post-modern rendering of all the the Spider-Man films that came before it. It’s within this landscape of spectacle, that I’m taking my students to a screening of Logan next week. A comic-book movie that, like The Dark Knight, is so much more. Following Nolan’s landmark entry into the comic book world, James Mangold has created a genre study that just happens to feature characters who exist within the comic book universe and goes further with the inclusion of meta-text about movies and comics themselves.
Many critics have noted that Logan “transcends” the comic book film text; the anti-comic book film where the main protagonist, who epitomizes the “antihero”, is torn, isolated, and against his own mythology, is dying. This alone is not overly unique as Logan (aka. Wolverine), has always be torn. The opening frames of Bryan Singers’ X-Men , introduces a bitterly violent and animalistic Logan fighting in a cage; a man or “thing” who is forced to live on the outskirts of society ( both wanting and distrusting the promise of inclusion). With Logan, the Wolverine has become mythical and unlike the cage fighter in Singer’s X-Men, his body is no longer impenetrable.
Logan is a different film than the original X-Men but at the same time similar. Its a film that yearns to be taken seriously and it deserves to be. As such, in taking my students to the see it (along with Get Out – a fun double header leading into the Easter weekend), the goal is to provoke their understanding of genre, meaning and the meta-history and text that James Mangold paints his Western canvas with. Coming together in a shared space and time is important; films in shaping culture rises out of the political and thus it is urgent for students to see current titles with meaning.
Excitingly, the learning will be enriched with the inclusion of the guys behind the podcast 24panelspersecond. Comprised of Dr. Dru Jefferies and teacher David Babbitt, I had the pleasure to pre-record a conversation that will guide the student post-screening experience. You can check it out here and make sure to visit 24panelspersecond. Its a great resource for any media classroom or fan of movies and pop-culture.
I’m looking forward to the rich conversation that promises to come out of Logan and can only imagine what the student reaction will be to Get Out.
Special thanks are extended to Dru and David of 24panelspersecond. Its always inspiring to share time with enthused educators and film buffs.