Warning: SPOILERS for Logan lie ahead!
Logan is now in theaters, and its arrival is already sending ripples down the the shores of superhero cinema as we know it. A mature, gritty, emotional character examination with western overtones, Logan is unlike any “superhero” movie the world has ever seen before. Critics are hailing it as the next The Dark Knight, and with a nearly $240 million gross in its opening weekend, and the highest Rotten Tomatoes score of any X-Men movie to date, it’s safe to say that the movie has become a huge success across the board.
But what makes Logan important, other than its sheer uniqueness, is that it marks the final dual appearance of two icons: Hugh Jackman’s fiery-tempered Wolverine, and Patrick Stewart’s wheelchair-bound telepath, Charles Xavier.
Since the first X-Men movie premiered all the way back in 2000, back in the dark ages before smart phones and Facebook were even a vague concept, these two characters have been the crux upon which the cinematic version of the X-Men stands. The companionship between Logan and Charles brings out the best in both characters — two men who are so different, and come from such different places, and yet have found family in one another. That relationship has changed quite a bit by the time we meet up with them in Logan, with Xavier now suffering from dementia and Logan a battered man on the verge of death, but the connection between them is stronger than ever before. Here are 15 Reasons Wolverine And Charles Xavier Make A Great Team.
15. The Father/Son Dynamic
One of the most emotional scenes in Logan comes when the group is invited to dinner, and the family unit of Logan, Charles, and Laura actually identify themselves as a family. When Logan refers to Xavier as his father, he isn’t just doing it out of convenience; that is truly what the relationship between them has become. And as Xavier’s mental state has degraded, Wolvie has taken it upon himself to take care of the man who gave so much to the world, and to him.
It’s no wonder that the two have formed this relationship, really. Logan is a man in need of a father, and Charles is a man in need of a son. Back when he was just a sick little rich boy named James Howlett, the future Wolverine’s distant, wealthy adopted father John Howlett was killed by his actual father, the abusive drunk groundskeeper Thomas Logan, whom James then carved up with his claws. After that, he never found a true mentor again — until he met Charles Xavier that is. The professor did for Logan what no one else ever had before. He saw the better person inside the gruff exterior, and he believed in that person, while giving Logan the freedom to make his own decisions. While Logan might technically be older than Charles, there’s a wisdom that an all-powerful psychic like Charles possesses, which automatically positions him as “older” one, emotionally.
Now, while Xavier is a man who has been a father (or grandfather) figure to hundreds of children, having saved more lives than anyone could count, Logan is the only one of his students who has ever taken care of him, as well. When it comes to Xavier, Logan is completely self-sacrificial. Unlike Cyclops, who failed to become what Charles hoped he would be — either in the movies, or in the comics — Wolverine might not be the “perfect” son, but he’s the one who, in the end, is most loyal. Logan’s gruff, dismissive demeanor might not embody Xavier’s ideals on a surface level, but his spirit is just as true.
14. The Contrast: A Man of the Mind, and a Man of Action
Despite this strong familial connection, the temperaments of Wolverine and the professor couldn’t be further apart.
Wolverine is impulsive, reckless, aggressive, and, if things get bad enough, can totally snap into a berserker rage, slashing up a room full of soldiers in minutes. This isn’t his fault, really — being the test subject of the horrific Weapon X project will do that to you — and his fast reflexes have saved the day on many occasions, but it’s led to a long, painful life. In contrast, Charles Xavier’s temperament is practically Logan’s opposite. Xavier is calm, collected, always in control of his emotions and thoughts, and often guiding the emotions of others with a steady hand. Though Xavier went through a long learning curve to get there, as we’ve seen through watching the struggles of James McAvoy’s younger version, the professor that we first meet in X-Men — and that Logan first meets — is by that time a zen, monk-like figure. The difference is further compounded by their powers, with Xavier’s abilities being psychological in nature, while Wolverine’s are animalistic.
The vast differences between the two men are exactly what makes their interplay so interesting. Even in Logan, where both characters are much more beaten down than we’re used to seeing them, and both far less powerful, the contrast between how they have aged is interesting. While Xavier’s dementia has impacted his powers, he’s still greatly in touch with his emotions. Wolverine, on the other hand, has sunk deeper into his gruff, antisocial tendencies.
13. Wolverine Actually Respects Xavier – and He Rarely Respects Anyone
The Wolverine isn’t somebody who shows respect to just anyone, regularly smoking cigars indoors and punching the face of anyone who gets in his way. And yet, he does respect Charles Xavier. While the bickering and swearing between the two in Logan might imply otherwise, it actually shows the opposite: after decades of interaction, the two men have grown so close to each other that are no walls, and few boundaries (other than Wolverine’s choice not to reveal to the professor that his increasingly uncontrollable psychic powers were the cause of the Westchester disaster, and the very reason that they’ve had to go into hiding).
The reason that Logan doesn’t tell Charles about this, really, is because of the enormous respect and love that he has for the old man. Consider: if anyone else in the world became as dangerous as Charles has, anyone else, Logan would have just killed them. Seriously, even when Jean Grey got too crazy, he killed her (she did beg him to, but still). Logan is the kind of guy who does what he has to do. But when Xavier reaches that point, becoming a dangerously powerful figure whose increasing senility means he gets more dangerous all the time, Logan doesn’t kill him. Instead, he brings the professor far away, protects him, and basically devotes the last years of his life to taking care of him. As far as the gruff demeanor and rudeness that he shows while doing so, well… that’s just Logan.
For another example, look at Days of Future Past. When Logan is trying to deal with the broken, addicted younger Charles, just listen to the way he describes his older self to him: “But I do know, that a long time ago — actually a long time from now — I was your most helpless student, and you unlocked my mind. YOU showed me what I was, you showed me who I could be.”
12. Both of Them Lost the Woman They Loved
Neither Logan nor Charles fall in love easily. But both of them have fallen in love, deeply, and both of them have felt the pain of losing the person they most want to be with, often because of their own decisions. Their lives have led them to the place where, now that they’re older, they’re left with nothing but the memories of these women to keep them company.
Logan, of course, saw the woman he loved impaled on his own claws. He had to kill Jean, in order to save both her and the world itself, but this event was deeply traumatic to him. Even by the time of The Wolverine, which takes place some years later, Logan is still haunted by Jean’s memory, plagued by nightmares. After that, there’s no indication that he ever falls in love again.
In Xavier’s case, though he definitely did a lot of flirting at a younger age, the true apple of his eye was Moira MacTaggert. In the original, unaltered timeline before Days of Future Past, we can assume that he wiped her memory, for her own protection, and presumably never stopped longing after her. In Apocalypse, we see them reconnect. However, while their relationship may have gone much further on than the original timeline, perhaps even into the 2000s, the lack of her presence in Logan indicates that something happened to her at some point. In the comics, at least, she died from the Legacy Virus.
11. They’re Both Really, Really Old
Another key part of Wolverine and the professor’s companionship is that both of them have lived incredibly long lives that few can relate to, even others who are the same age. Both of them lived through the majority of the twentieth century — the entirety of it, in Logan’s case, though he remembers far less. Both of them have witnessed a myriad of historic events, both real and fictitious, and even played a key role in these events, considering that Logan watched the atom bomb drop on top of him, and Xavier was at the very epicenter of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
But both of them are also older than their years, psychologically. Wolverine has endured torture, seen his entire body flayed, destroyed, and regenerated, and lost almost every single person that he ever loved. Xavier, because of his powers, has experienced the thoughts, feelings, and histories of countless other human beings, all of them rattling around inside his skull. These guys might both have been around for a century or more, but there’s at least a second century of experiences contained within each of them.
10. Xavier is the Only One Who Has Ever Tried to Make Wolverine’s Life Better, Instead of Worse
Throughout the many decades, Wolverine has known torment like few others. He’s continually been made the victim of other people’s machinations, against his will, and always for nefarious reasons. The biggest escalation of this was when the Weapon X project turned him into a weapon, as it saw little use for him as a human being. Everyone who ever reaches out to him always seems to be using him as a means to an end. The Japanese soldier he saved from the atom bomb in WWII, Ichiro Yashida, contacted him years later, but even he ended up just using him as a ploy to regain his youth.
But there’s one man who did reach out to Logan, who did see the best in him — and want the best in him — and that’s Charles Xavier. Though Logan initially resisted Charles’s offers, the X-mansion is the one place where Logan finally found a home and a family. Logan might not seem like the most grateful person in the world, but he’s unrelentingly loyal, and he’s always remembered that Charles is the one person who took him in, offered to help, and actually meant it. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s ever been a one-sided relationship, or that Xavier doesn’t need Logan just as much, because…
9. Xavier’s Friendship with Logan is a Way to Redeem His Failed Friendship with Magneto
Back in X2: X-Men United, the imprisoned Erik Lehnsherr, AKA Magneto, took a stab at psychologically analyzing Charles Xavier’s motives. Remember this: “And now you think that taking in the Wolverine will make up for your failure with Stryker’s son. You haven’t told him about his past, have you?”
Erik knew Charles like few others. He was his best friend. But while he got Xavier’s motive right, he missed the mark on the professor’s actual intention, perhaps due to his own arrogance: when Xavier took in Wolverine, it was actually to make up for his failure with Magneto himself.
Think about it. In personality, Logan and Erik are like two peas in a pod. Both of them come from tragic pasts that have made them violent, impulsive, and prone to bloodshed. Both are driven by their emotions, and those emotions tend to be damaged, volatile, highly reactive things. Charles saw from the beginning what a violent man Erik was, and he took him in anyway, just as he later would with Logan. But when he knew Erik, he was young and inexperienced. His attempt to steer Erik onto a better path instead resulted in him becoming the mutant terrorist known as Magneto, and thus, his greatest enemy. So when Xavier takes in Logan as a friend, mentor, and adopted son, it’s partly to redeem his past failures.
8. Both Are Loners
Both Charles and Logan are deeply introverted, albeit in very different ways. When Logan gets away, he gets far away. He doesn’t trust people, and when a traumatic event befalls him, he tends to run off and go into hiding. This can take the form of living aimlessly on the road, going from bar to bar. It can also mean living next to a bear in the forest. It can also mean taking a job as a cab driver, keeping his head down, and avoiding attention. Learning how to work as a member of a team was a huge learning curve for him that he never quite mastered.
Charles might not be as extreme as Logan, but his introversion is quite clear. Though he might be the headmaster of an entire school, and an impressive leader and teacher in his own right, Charles spends much of his downtime in solitary environments. He reads classic novels, tends to his gardens, and observes people around him. Considering that he’s constantly got a billion voices buzzing around in his head, it’s really no wonder that he needs a lot of time to himself in order to stay sane.
7. …But At the Same Time, They Each Have a Desperate Need for Family
They might be loners, but both characters need family, and they know they need it. Both of them lost all of their blood relatives many years ago. Charles may have a son he doesn’t know about, and Wolverine ends up having a daughter that is created via a test tube without his involvement, but neither of them truly have parents, siblings, or a significant other. And both of them need that family dynamic, just as anyone needs it, which is why Xavier makes a point to accept the invite to the family dinner. Don’t mistake Logan’s constant resistance as a true dislike for others; Logan resists families because in the past, every family he’s ever been a part of was ripped apart by violence, and he usually blames himself for this.
This is why the X-Men are so important to both of them. The cause is important too, of course, but what binds them so closely to it, and to the X-Men’s legacy, is that the X-Men are the only family that either of them have ever really had.
6. Both Have Made Serious Mistakes in Their Lives
All of the X-Men are heroes. That’s why the movies are named after them, after all. But Charles and Logan have been heroes on an entirely different level than most of the others. Charles has willingly devoted most of his life to helping others, asking very little for himself, while Logan has usually been dragged into heroic actions by his conscience, even though he resists.
But despite the fact that the pair have made the world a far better place, both are weighed down by guilty consciences, and this is another area where they connect. Wolverine has killed, dismembered, and/or paralyzed thousands of people, most of them bad people, but he makes it clear to Laura that even those deaths still haunt him. Xavier, despite all of the lives he’s helped, never truly forgives himself for his greatest failures. He failed to save Erik’s soul. He failed with Jason Stryker. His manipulative strategy for dealing with Jean Grey’s overwhelming power resulted in the explosion of a chaotic force that should have been nurtured, not repressed. And finally, in Logan, the combination of his dementia with violent, psychic seizures leads to the loss of hundreds of innocent lives, including his own X-Men, and thus forced he and Logan to go into hiding.
5. Both Have a Soft Spot for Helping Children
If there’s one thing that these characters have in common, it’s that both of them can’t stand to see innocent children get hurt. Xavier started an entire school to protect the little ones, and Wolverine has a history of taking troubled younger students under his wing, whether it’s Rogue in the movies, or Kitty Pryde and Jubilee in the comic books. The comics also show this to be such a big issue for Wolverine that when Cyclops starts employing child soldiers, Logan’s unwillingness to accept this brutal tactic leads to the entire X-Men fracturing into two separate teams.
This similar value is again present in Logan. Xavier immediately bonds with Laura, of course, as he always has bonded with children. He immediately becomes like a grandfather to her. Wolverine actively resists Laura throughout the majority of the film, at first desperate not to take on her case and get wrapped up in another violent episode. But in the end, Laura’s love touches a part of Wolverine’s heart that hasn’t been touched in many years, to the point where he’s willing to sacrifice everything, including his own life, to ensure her safety.
4. They’re the Only Two People on the Planet Who Remember that Whole Post-Apocalyptic Sentinel Future
Seriously, this is a big one. The whole world got destroyed by an army of giant robotic assassins, who began by rounding up the mutants into death camps before rounding up the humans as well. The dark apocalypse that the Sentinels created was only reversed by the heroic efforts of the X-Men. Together, they wiped out the terrible future, and reset the entire timeline of the universe so that no one had to suffer the memories of it… except, well, Wolverine and Charles Xavier.
Wolverine went through all of it, piece by piece, and even though the past he remembers no longer exists in the history books, it still exists to him. The younger version of Charles, through Logan’s mind, experienced everything that Logan experienced, and was even able to reach out into the future, talk to himself, and experience his life and past as well. Nobody else remembers this. Nobody else ever will. It’s pretty cosmic stuff that not another person in the entire universe can relate to. We can assume that, in the years between Days of Future Past and Logan, these shared experiences probably bonded the two men together like glue.
Even the less-than-pretty picture that Logan paints of the future is, while troubled, nowhere near as desolate as the future in Days of Future Past. Even the near-extinction of mutants doesn’t invalidate the heroism that the X-Men showed in the past, where they saved the planet on multiple occasions. If anything, it’s poetic; the X-Men, despite being mutants who were destined to be genetically wiped out, saved humankind from its own extinction.
3. They Often Have the Best Dialogue Together
Who can forget some of the great exchanges that these two have shared over the years? Their distinctive voices play off one another well, with Xavier being one of the few who can take the cocky Wolverine down a couple notches, and Logan being one of the few who can bring out the professor’s more sarcastic, dry sense of humor. One of their more memorable exchanges was back in X2: X-Men United, when Logan walked into Cerebro puffing on a cigar, and Xavier said if he didn’t put it out, he’d alter Logan’s mind to make Logan believe he was a six-year-old girl, at which point he’d have Jean braid his hair.
This dialogue is ratcheted up a notch in Logan. Here, with Xavier having lost much of his psychic powers and lost bits of his mind along the way, Logan finds himself in the place that many eldest real-world children can relate to, when their parents reach a certain age; as the caregiver. This is a struggle for someone like Logan, and he finds himself snapping at Xavier. But the older Xavier has no problem snapping right back at him, revealing a brilliantly sardonic side that we’ve never gotten the chance to see before.
2. Xavier Isn’t Afraid of Wolverine
This is another big one, and it’s quite telling. Who wouldn’t be afraid of Wolverine? Sure, he’s one of the good guys, but he’s killed more people than most of the bad guys. He’s got unbreakable claws. A body that can heal from almost any injury. A bad temper. And yet, from the very beginning, Charles has never been remotely afraid of Logan. Part of this, initially, is probably because a powerful telepath like Charles could easily freeze Logan in time and space if Logan ever acted up, but he never seems worried about this possibility. Finally, by the time of Logan, where Charles is easily at the most helpless state he’s ever been in, and no longer the powerhouse he once was, he still isn’t afraid. He might be angry at Logan, disappointed, or upset, but never afraid, which is partly what leads to one of the movie’s most tragic moments.
What renders this even more vital to their relationship is that Charles’s lack of fear isn’t blind trust. No, he’s seen directly into Logan’s head. He’s seen everything that the former Weapon X has done, everything that he’s capable of, and still isn’t afraid. The only other person who has ever connected with Logan this way was Jean Grey, and at this point, Logan and Xavier have been through far more together.
1. In The End, Wolverine is a Better Friend/Student/”Son” than Cyclops or Magneto Ever Were
There’s no question that Xavier is the best father figure that Logan’s ever had, largely because he’s the only one. After John Howlett and Thomas Logan died on the same day, Wolverine wandered the Earth fatherless until the day he met Charles.
But what’s more interesting is that despite his difficult personality and aggressive demeanor, Logan turns out to the best son, and the best friend, that Charles Xavier ever had. There’s no doubt that Magneto loved Charles like a brother, sure. And Cyclops tried as hard as he could to live up to Xavier’s idea of him — but then became consumed with anger in the movies, and turned into a villain in the comics. Logan, on the other hand, has been the most loyal companion that Charles could have ever imagined, despite being nothing like the sort of friend Charles might have asked for. No one else has so thoroughly devoted their life not just to Charles’s dream, but to actually caring for the man behind it. No one else would have sacrificed their last years on Earth doing little more than keeping Charles alive, or working together on the dream of one day escaping from society on a boat.
Logan’s far from perfect, but his heart is in the right place, even if his actions don’t always reflect that. He makes some big mistakes, but he tries to make up for them. He’s truly the son, and the friend, that Charles Xavier deserved all along.
Though Logan has now arrived, the X-Men franchise is far from over. X-Men: Supernova is set to get underway this summer, and production is rolling right along for Deadpool 2. But Logan marks a rare occasion in superhero cinema, where we truly get to see an ending worthy of everything that has come before. Though the X-Men will go on, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Xavier have shared their final scenes together, and we thank them for bringing these two comic book characters to life.
What other reasons explain why Xavier and Wolverine work so well together? What are your favorite scenes between the two heroes? Let us know in the comments!
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