The reviews for Logan are in, and many are as glowing as the reflection on an adamantium claw.
Director James Mangold's film is the ninth time Hugh Jackman has appeared as Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, and marks the seventh appearance for Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier (yes, that cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine counts). It also introduced Dafne Keen as Laura, a young girl with a mysterious past who comes into their lives.
"Seamlessly melding Marvel mythology with Western mythology, James Mangold has crafted an affectingly stripped-down stand-alone feature, one that draws its strength from Hugh Jackman’s nuanced turn as a reluctant, all but dissipated hero," writes The Hollywood Reporter's Sheri Linden in her review. "That he rises to the occasion when a child is placed in his care is the stuff of a well-worn narrative template, yet it finds a fair level of urgency in this telling."
She goes on to praise the film as something both the X-Men obsessed and the more causal superhero moviegoer can enjoy: "For those who can’t recite the plotlines of all nine of the preceding X-Men films, the new feature’s noirish, end-of-an-era vibe is an involving hook."
Vulture's Anthony Riesman praised it as "one of the best pieces of superhero storytelling to emerge since the dawn of the cinematic superhero boom two decades ago."
"With its blood-freezing brutality, shockingly effective humor, and tear-inducing tenderness, Logan joins The Dark Knight and Unbreakable in the pantheon of great superhero movies that don’t need to be graded on a superheroic curve," he writes. "It stands on its own as a stunning piece of mainstream auteur filmmaking that leaves you gasping and, if you’re like me, weeping at both its genuine sadness and its vision of hope — elements rarely seen in this oversaturated cinematic category. Logan, in short, gets how to tell a masterful superhero story."
Forbes' Scott Mendelson questions if Logan would be as well-regarded if it were not for the lowered expectations viewers have for superhero movies, writing: "I would be willing to bet that the same film delivered sans known characters and specifically sans four-color source material would be accepted as a rock-solid genre piece as opposed to the pinnacle of its respective genre. Logan is good, it is occasionally great, but I would argue that it is about as good as we should expect these films to be as a matter of course."
Some critics have noted the film contains themes (such as immigration and corporate exploitation) that ring particularly loudly in the age of President Donald Trump.
"The colours are muted, all rust-red and glowering grey, and the themes are weighty: loss, ageing and deep, almost unbearable regret," reads Time Out's review. "We're never given a full picture of how the world got so messed up, just glimpses of institutional brutality and corporate power, of ordinary people ground under the heel of an increasingly uncaring system. Given that the film went into production well before the earth-shaking events of November 2016, it all feels frighteningly prescient."
Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson notes that Jackman's aged and ailing Logan was refreshing for a franchise whose characters don't seem to age: "The X-Men films have often fudged time — seemingly ageless characters floating through the decades, timelines in the past that don’t really sync up with those in the present — so the acknowledgement that these people are subject to at least some laws of the physical world is grounding. It makes the fantastical stuff more credible, somehow."
If this is indeed Jackman's last time wearing the claws (as he's repeatedly said it will be), it's worth revisiting the legacy he leaves behind.
IndieWire's David Ehrlich notes it's one that could withstand even poor projects: "Whereas most of the cinematic genre’s characters borrow from myth, Jackman’s Wolverine became human enough to forge his own. Whereas most of these characters are shaped by studio notes and watered down by fan service, Jackman’s snarling embodiment of the comic book cover star was built to survive Brett Ratner sequels, recover from Will.i.am cameos, and elevate solid action fare into the pop culture firmaments."
Logan opens March 3.