Logan is intended to be Hugh Jackman’s last hurrah as Wolverine, and all indications are that Jackman’s version of the character is going out with a bang. Reviews have been positive so far and Logan looks like it’s set to be a big hit when it comes to theaters on March 3rd, 2017. The movie’s R-rating and intense tone will likely not deter fans from flocking to see it. In fact, those factors may be a major selling point.
When Logan does finally come to movie screens around the world, some might be inclined to derive political messages from the film’s story, which takes place in a dystopian near-future and involves Logan crossing heavily guarded U.S. borders to protect a young female mutant. So is Logan meant to be an overtly political film?
Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart addressed the issue of Logan‘s politics at the Berlinale on Friday, where the movie screened out-of-competition. According to the actors, the movie isn’t meant to be overtly political, but they both realize that the film may have a certain political resonance considering what is going on in the world at the present time. The story begins with Logan and Charles Xavier in Mexico, which by itself is enough to set off talk of politics. Jackman acknowledged this (via Variety), even going so far to suggest that the writers caught something of the zeitgeist that the U.S. was entering. He did insist, however, that “Before the whole debate about the wall, the border scenes were there in the film.”
Patrick Stewart went even further in addressing the issue:
“We are affected by the changing times. You present your part as a person influenced by the times. We did not set out to make a political movie, yet there are echoes in the film that exist today – that is serendipity. If people want to take messages from this film, then we have done a good job.”
Sometimes superhero movies are meant to be political, like when the MCU movies discuss how evil we should allow ourselves to become in the name of self-defense, but usually, these elements are non-specific and feel like window-dressing. By the sound of it, Logan is not trying to be super-political. In today’s climate, however, with folks on both sides of the aisle feeling the political strife with hypersensitivity, it’s guaranteed that any big movie with substance could be taken as having an agenda.
It’s fair to ask whether, in times like these, popular entertainment takes on more of a responsibility to be overtly political. Some would argue that a film like Logan, which is trying to be more serious than your average superhero movie, should not just be incidentally, but actively and deliberately political. Just because a movie is meant to be entertainment, that doesn’t mean it can’t take a side.
Of course, there are others who would strongly argue the other side of the issue and say that Hollywood popcorn movies should remain mere amusement for the masses. But even if movies try to stay out of the argument, they sometimes get sucked into it by those who see politics everywhere they look. It often boils down to whose ox is being gored.