I have a bit of a problem with Christian books and movies. There is sometimes little room for ‘art’ because the audience has to be beat over the head with the moral or biblical message. Less than that repeated scourging, and audiences rise up in anger claiming the writer or creator of the work compromised on the faith message. They took too many creative liberties. They sold out.
I saw the new Logan movie this weekend. Intended or not, the underlying Christian message was very clear to me. It was dark and violent, but I loved that the real life consequences of that violence were also shown. Your mileage may vary but there were many biblical/moral lessons and themes none-the-less for those awake enough to see it.
**THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD. A LOT OF SPOILERS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!**
When the movie opens, Logan (aka Wolverine) is something of an Uber driver. He has to wear glasses to see the orders for the car on his phone. He crosses the border into Mexico every night where he’s keeping an aging Professor X under wraps — the most dangerous brain in the world has a degenerative brain disorder.
They’re in hiding because all the mutants are gone — hunted down and eliminated. Logan is living under a different name and keeps a low profile. He self-medicates with copious amounts of alcohol.
He’s waiting to die. All his efforts are targeted at buying a boat so he can wait to die utterly alone at sea. Cheery, right.
No more recaps, if you’re reading this you’ve watched the movie. Here’s what I saw and what this movie taught me.
The Old Man is killing Logan
Logan is dying. The adamantium that gives him his strength, his power, is the very thing poisoning him. Like a tire with a slow leak, the air is escaping and we’re watching a man deflate. Logan can’t push away the demons of the past because he has no purpose, nothing to live for. No hope.
Not only is the adamantium killing him, his old friend rage has let him down too. Rage – that thorn in the flesh that Logan relies on to survive. In the first Avenger’s movie, Dr. Banner is asked if he can call on the green monster at will. Dr. Banner says, I’m always angry. Wolverine is always angry, but Logan is just tired. There’s only isolation and a self-imposed shunning. The rage is spent and he’s left with this hollow ache that the alcohol cannot fully dull. Life hurts too much already – physically, emotionally, mentally.
It’s such a heartbreaking picture of life without Christ.
When Laura shows up, Logan denies any responsibility for her. She represents yet another thing that’s been taken from him against his will, another part of him that’s been experimented on. When he realizes that the Eden this child is seeking doesn’t exist, his pragmatic nature takes over, but like a wise father, the professor points out that there is great power in hope.
When X-24 shows up (Logan’s clone) the rage that’s driven Wolverine for so long is in full view. This is more the Wolverine we saw in the earlier movies, just raw anger, but in X-24 it’s unchecked of any moral standards or affection, it’s ugly and disastrous. It wasn’t until Munson does his best to destroy X-24 with his truck, that Logan really sees the power and strength in family. This was the father’s last act – to destroy the evil that killed his family. That’s when Logan takes on responsibility for Laura. He chooses hope, not because he believes in it yet but because it’s the right thing to do.
We Find An Anchor In Relationship
As Logan is forced to travel with the professor and Laura, glimpses of himself in his daughter become clearer. He reprimands her lack of patience, her aggression and rage and demonstrates that these are things he himself is still struggling with. We always pass on the traits we’d rather not see in our children, don’t we?
As the movie progresses, it’s like a lawyer building a case for Logan to transform his heart, but the final argument hasn’t yet been delivered.
When Logan, Laura and the professor are invited for dinner by the Munson family, Logan is reminded of how civilized people behave as he has to correct Laura’s table manners. Logan gets a glimpse, is reminded, of the power found in relationship. Logan sees Will Munson’s devotion to his family. Munson relates to Logan, one father to another. Slowly, all these things begin a reawakening in Logan that he can’t deny any longer. His heart is being renewed. Ezekiel 36:26 promises to remove our heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh.
When Logan’s strength fails, Laura picks him up and gets them where they need to go — she refuses to let him be alone, let him die. She doesn’t need him, but she cares about him and looks out for him all the same. The idea of a father has been an anchor and a hope for her for a long time.
I see such a picture of relationship with Christ in this. It’s not a relationship we can maintain in our own strength, because we are frail and weak and prone to pride and fear. God sees our faults and shortcomings and loves us anyway. We always look at parenting as a picture of Christ and man, and I love that it got turned the other way and the relationship is shown from the child loving the reluctant hard-hearted parent.
Hope Brings Renewal
After being confronted with his ‘Old Man’ in his clone, Logan changes — slowly. Laura is the new Logan, in a sense. He softens — just a little. In Laura, Logan begins to see hope for a different future, a different outcome, a chance to live differently — not to become what society told her she had to be. His paternal instincts are finally awakened. Instead of doing only what best serves himself, as he’s done the entire movie, he sets out to save Laura knowing the journey will kill him. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. Symbolically, I saw Logan setting out to kill the old man and his hard heart, and seek a heart of flesh. And he succeeds. As Laura heads off to this new utopia (that is Canada – love that part) where she can live free, we get the sense that Logan lives on in her in spirit. The old man had to die for the future to have a chance at life.
I love the interview Relevant Magazine did with Hugh Jackman about the movie – this is a must read!
That’s the beauty of art – we can each take away something a bit different. Did you see any of these elements or themes in Logan? What did you think of the movie?