Summer blockbuster season is arriving early this year. While we still have a few months to go before box office juggernauts Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, Wonder Woman and War for the Planet of the Apes hit theaters, Logan is now just a few weeks away.
Hugh Jackman’s swan song as the famous X-Men is already generating massive buzz from everyone and anyone who has seen some of the footage. As a totally different type of comic book movie, Logan has the potential to re-write the rules of the genre. Director James Mangold has described the film as a neo-Western road trip, featuring an older, more weathered Wolverine than we’ve ever seen before. Perhaps the biggest difference of all is that Logan is the first X-Men film in the main continuity with an R-rating, promising plenty of violence, loads of swearing, and a much more grounded adventure.
Those huge differences will inevitably lead fans to compare Logan to past X-Men and Marvel films. Though it is still a comic book movie, Logan looks to be a different kind of film with inspiration not just from the superhero genre. Below is a list of films with similar concepts, some of which might have even provided the inspiration for the final outing in the Wolverine trilogy.
Here are 15 Movies to Watch Before Logan
15. X-Men Movies
It’s been 17 years since Bryan Singer ushered in the new era of superhero movies with the release of the first X-Men. For better or worse, Singer’s contribution revolutionized the cinematic superhero formula that was followed by Sam Rami’s Spider-Man and further built upon later by Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins.
With plenty of rich material to mine from, each entry in the X-Men cinematic universe is vastly different than the last. While the franchise has had its fair share of misfires (insert X-Men Origins joke here), it’s also had a series of highs, including First Class, Days of Future Past, and X2: X-Men United, which is still considered by some to be one of the best superhero movies ever made.
Logan will mark Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman’s last turn as their mutant counterparts. There’s no doubt the film will send them off in a glorious fashion, but before it does, we suggest taking a look back at the movies that cemented their place in comic book movie history.
Unforgiven stars Clint Eastwood as William Munny, a retired gunslinger who’s looking to make one last score by killing two cowboys. Teaming up with a young bounty hunter and his former partner, Munny slips back into his old life of violence as he goes up against a tough-as-nails sheriff looking to take him down.
Eastwood’s last Western serves as homage to the genre, while at the same time dispelling the many romanticisms of the Old West. This is not a world where characters respectfully square off at high noon. It is one where gunslingers shoot each other in the back and don’t apologize for it afterwards. Likewise, Logan appears to be taking a deconstructionist view to comic book movies, offering audiences a grittier interpretation than what we’ve become accustomed to.
Munny has been hardened by a lifetime of violence, and judging from his job as a limo driver, Logan seems to be worn out from his violent past as well. Like Munny, Wolverine has a particular talent for killing, even though he tries to deny it. In an interview with Empire, director James Mangold states that the aged Logan even looks like Eastwood’s William Munny. Though both characters attempt to live a quiet life, it looks like Logan will have to do a bit more killing before he hangs up his claws for good.
13. Rain Man
When Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) discovers that his estranged father has left his entire inheritance to his autistic brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), the two make a journey cross-country. Though Charlie’s original plan consists of extorting Raymond for his inheritance, things change when the brothers form a genuine connection over their many days on the road.
Rain Man is a road trip movie at heart, but it also deals with difficult issues, such as the treatment of autism. Hoffman is more than convincing in his Oscar-winning role of Raymond, who tests the patience and limits of his younger brother Charlie, played by Cruise. Over time, however, Charlie learns to be less selfish, taking up the caretaker role for his older brother.
We already know that the second half of Logan is a road trip movie, but like Rain Man, it will also touch on mental disabilities. Wolverine is shown to be taking care of an ailing Professor X, who is suffering from memory loss and, at times, can’t even remember who Logan is. Their time on the open road will no doubt see the two characters grow closer than ever before, much like the relationship between Charlie and Raymond.
Set in the sundrenched hills of Los Angeles, Drive tells the story of a mysterious mechanic/stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. In an attempt to help his neighbor and her child, he becomes entangled in a heist that goes horribly wrong, leading him down a path of violence and redemption.
Ultra-stylized and ultra-violent, Nicholas Winding Refn’s film is a glorious throwback to the heist movies of the late 60s and 70s. Though it’s not without its fair share of action, Drive is a subtle character study about isolation and loneliness. There is a noticeable lack of dialog in Drive, choosing instead to tell its story through nuanced performances like Gosling’s nameless Driver.
Unlike most comic book extravaganzas, Logan looks like it will be a rich character study exploring the relationships between its core group of players. We will no doubt see Wolverine and X23 tear it up onscreen, but the movie looks like it will balance out those intense action scenes with character building moments much like the ones in Drive.
11. Gran Torino
Following the death of his wife, prejudiced Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) sets out to reform his neighborhood by taking Thao, a young Hmong teenager, under his wing. As he becomes closer to Thao’s family, Walt attempts to keep his new protégé from falling into the violent gang life that plagues their neighborhood.
For a movie about a cantankerous grump, Gran Torino is an enormously entertaining film that is often times hilarious. The relationship between Walt and Thao is particularly enjoyable to watch, filled with moments that can either make you shed a tear or burst out laughing.
Starting from the very first X-Men movie, Jackman’s Wolverine is a character that frequently finds himself in the role of a protector. Starting out as an adoptive guardian of sorts for a young Rogue, he now seems to be taking up the protective role again with X23. Hopefully their father-daughter bond is as entertaining to watch as the one Eastwood provided in Gran Torino. Judging from their road trip side-stops at gas stations, we have a feeling that it certainly will be.
10. Mad Max Films
George Miller’s high-octane thrillers follow the life of Max Rockatansky, a drifter in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where humans fight and scrounge for resources like water, gas and food. Traveling from place to place, Max often finds himself in the crosshairs of trouble, reluctantly banding together with other rebels to increase his chance for survival.
Mad Max is the classic example of the wandering antihero; a traveling warrior who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty while fighting the tyrants for the little guy. It’s exactly the kind of role that Wolverine seems to have slipped into in the upcoming Logan.
Not exactly a post-apocalyptic future, Logan does take place in a world where mutants are all but extinct. While we don’t yet know what exactly led to their disappearance, it’s clear that Logan is the last of a dying breed ready to fight for what’s left of mutantkind. If he’s anything like the infamous Road Warrior, then we’re sure that Wolverine isn’t going to go down without a fight.
Dark, brooding, and featuring a synth heavy soundtrack, Sonatine tells the story of a group of yakuza from Tokyo who are sent to Okinawa in an effort to broker a truce between two rival gangs. As the turf war escalates, the Tokyo gangsters decide to lay low at a beach house and take a much needed vacation.
Some might accuse director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano’s film as being overly violent, but Kitano uses the sudden and irrevocable violence as a way of exploring the psyches of the various yakuza. The gangsters in Sonatine have become so desensitized by years of brutality that they are empty shells of human beings, and only when they are transported to another world – in this case, a beautiful beach – do they begin to smile, crack jokes and start living again.
Wolverine is in the same place as these yakuza in Logan. He’s been beaten down by so many years of killing and violence that he’s become numb to it all. Just like the gangsters in Sonatine have their beach safe haven, Logan seems to snap at out his funk when he ventures onto the road with the young X23 and Professor X. Both movies are violent in nature (Logan is the second X-Men movie with an R rating) but it is what’s going on in the characters’ minds that is truly compelling.
8. Paper Moon
Starring real life father-daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, Paper Moon finds a con man baffled when he’s stuck with a young girl who may or may not be his daughter. Set during the Great Depression, the two forge an unlikely partnership as they travel cross-country, scamming anyone they come across in an attempt to raise $200.
On paper (excuse the pun) it wouldn’t seem like Logan and Paper Moon have much in common. Logan is a violent comic book movie set in the distant future, while Paper Moon is set in the 1930’s and shot in black and white. However, they are more similar than you might think; both are road trip movies, and both focus on a surrogate father-daughter relationship.
In an interview with Nerdist, director James Mangold discusses his influences behind Logan, stating, “Paper Moon was another movie that was really important to me in figuring out how this film works.” That’s all we need to hear to add this onto our “must watch” list before Logan hits theaters a few weeks from now.
7. Still Alice
Alice (Julianne Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor, but her life takes a turn for the worse when she’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Alice and her family face a rocky road ahead as she struggles to fight the impending ailment while trying to make the most of her remaining time to find some solace and peace.
Still Alice is a rare movie that shows the challenges and struggles of Alzheimer’s through the perspective of the victim. It is excruciating to watch Julianne Moore (who won an Oscar for her role as Alice) struggle to grasp her internal thoughts and feelings as her disease grows worse and worse. Though Logan is a superhero movie, it will also feature a character who is suffering from a memory impairment disability with Professor X.
While he was once the most powerful telepath on the planet, Charles is suffering from memory loss by the time of the events in Logan. Still Alice is about the relationships between patients with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones, which we can only assume will be similar to the relationship between Professor X and his now devoted caretaker, Logan.
6. The Road
The Road stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as a father and son struggling to travel to the coastline in a post-apocalyptic future. Fueled by paranoia, the father teaches the son to be suspect of everyone they come across in a world where scavengers will do almost anything to obtain a bit of food and fuel. However, they pair soon find that they need to accept the help of strangers if they have any chance for survival.
It’s not hard to see the parallels between The Road and Logan. Directed by John Hillcoat, The Road depicts a bleak world where survivors have grown paranoid of other travelers. It’s not too far off from where we find ourselves in Logan, a harsh future that appears to be extinct of all mutants beside our core group of players. The Road also focuses on the father-son relationship between its two lead characters. Logan seems to be doing the same, concentrating on the family dynamic between Wolverine, Professor X and Laura.
5. The Book of Eli
Another film set in a post-apocalyptic future, The Book of Eli tells the story of Eli (Denzel Washington), a wanderer drifting his way across America who closely guards a unique book that might hold the secret to saving mankind. When a dangerous community hears about the book, they will stop at nothing to obtain it, and it’s up to Eli to fight them off to ensure the sacred document’s safety.
Borrowing elements from the likes of The Road Warrior and Kung Fu, The Book of Eli is a hodgepodge of awesome genres. Denzel Washington is perfectly cast as the silent drifter who forms a connection with a young woman trying to help him save his book, played by Mila Kunis. Their relationship provides the backbone behind the movie. Likewise, the relationship between Logan and X-23 seems to be the backbone of Wolverine’s final outing as well. Furthermore, both Eli and Logan are men that are handy with a bladed weapon, protecting something important to them, and are looking for redemption, enough similarities to more than warrant The Book of Eli’s spot on this list.
When mercenary-for-hire Wade Wilson is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he enters an experimental treatment program that inadvertently unlocks his hidden mutant potential. His quick-healing ability comes with a hefty price however, and Wilson sets out on a bloody path of vengeance to settle the score as his new alter-ego, Deadpool.
Not only did Deadpool become one of the most successful movies of last year, but it went on to become the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. The little comic book movie that could found massive success thanks to Ryan Reynold’s spot on performance of the merc with a mouth, its tongue-and-cheek writing, and its over-the-top violence.
Obviously, Logan will be drastically different in tone – and that’s coming straight out of the mouth of Deadpool. That doesn’t mean it will be any less violent, however. While we’re sure there won’t be any jokes about shish-kabobed bad guys, Logan will most definitely earn that hard R-rating with some bloody mayhem of its own. There’s no better way of getting ready for that mayhem than re-watching Deadpool, a movie that proves violence and X-Men go together better than peanut butter and jelly.
3. The Professional
After her family is brutally murdered by a gang of corrupt cops, 12-year-old Mathilda is reluctantly taken in by her neighbor Leon, who happens to be an expert hitman working for the mob. Forming an unusual relationship, Leon hesitantly takes Mathilda on as his new protégé, teaching her the ins and outs of the assassin business.
Stop us when this sounds familiar: a young girl who has a knack for carnage is reluctantly taken in by a reluctant father-figure who is haunted by a daunting history of violence. Logan’s premise may be new to the cinematic world of X-Men, but movies have been using that same skeleton of a plot for years, particularly in Luc Besson’s Leon: The Professional.
While there are shoot-outs galore, The Professional focuses on the intimate moments between characters, akin to what James Mangold appears to be doing with Logan. Both are character studies on their respective father-daughter relationships that feature high-octane action moments. Because they are so similar in nature, and because it’s a superb movie anyway, we highly recommend checking out The Professional before Wolverine’s swan song hits theaters in March.
2. 3:10 to Yuma
A remake of the 1957 Western of the same name, 3:10 to Yuma stars Christian Bale as a small-time rancher who agrees to transport a dangerous fugitive, played by Russel Crowe, to a train heading to Yuma. As the two get closer to their destination, the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher to formulate an escape, while his gang of thugs remains hot on their trail.
Every year, cinema-goers are greeted with a new batch of remakes that pale in comparison with the original. Thankfully, James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma isn’t one of them. Filled with fantastic actors, a smart script, solid directing, and a bunch of fun action sequences, this Western remake actually builds on the legacy of the original while offering something new to audiences.
If fans are desperate to see how Logan is going to turn out, 3:10 to Yuma is the closest thing to watch for comparison. For one, it’s directed by James Mangold, the man who is helming Logan. It’s also a Western, while Logan is being described as a neo-Western akin to the like of No Country for Old Men. If Logan is anything like Mangold’s old-fashioned movie with a modern twist, then we should be in for a treat come March 3rd.
1. Little Miss Sunshine
Right about now, you’re probably asking yourselves what a 2006 road trip comedy has to do with an R-rated neo-Western based on a comic book. You’re also probably asking why it made it to the top of this list. Well, just here us out.
Though Little Miss Sunshine is about one dysfunctional family’s journey to a beauty pageant cross-country, it’s the dynamic relationships between the characters that create the drama and suspense. Logan is a raw, gritty superhero film, but it too is about that family dynamic between its three core players. Both movies feature “families” that are forced to confront their issues with each other while traveling on the open road.
If you need more proof of their similarities, James Mangold even pitched Logan as his comic book version of Little Miss Sunshine to the studio. In an interview with Empire, Mangold explains his pitch: “I said, ‘I want to make Little Miss Sunshine with Logan, Charles Xavier, and X-23. Trap these three superheroes in a van driving on a highway in the year 2029 and see what happens.’”
Nominated for four Oscars, 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine manages to be tragic, witty, hilarious and uplifting all at the same time. If Jackman’s last outing as Wolverine is half as good, then we can’t wait to see what James Mangold and the rest of the crew have in store when Logan hits theaters on March 3rd.