Superheroes are big deals these days.
That wasn’t the same when I grew up. They were a big deal to me then, too, but we had to look a little harder than Netflix.
We did have some movies. The original Superman was fantastic, but it was a lonely great among a bunch of terrible movies and shows. Superman was the hero of a prior generation. My friends and I mostly found him to be pretty boring.
And, sure, we had Spider-Man on the Electric Company and Saturday morning cartoons. Batman reruns were pure camp, though Tim Burton showed up later on.
But, comics! Oh, the comics were wonderful. I inherited hundreds, which we stored in a great big galvanized tin garbage can in my shared closet. Avengers. John Carter. Micronauts! Power Man and Iron Fist.
At a certain point, for a certain range of ages, there are all other superheroes and then there are X-Men. They were quintessential. They spoke to my generation (being generous a few years). The characters were, well, uncanny. The storylines epic, but accessible. Chris Claremont’s run on writing X-Men is as legendary as anyone’s.
I wasn’t even a die-hard. Friends were, and I learned from them the stories of Dark Phoenix and the Sentinels and Storm and that paragon of compassion and morality, Professor X, and on and on.
But Wolverine. Man, Wolverine was the king of a very big heap of characters. We loved him. We loved everything about him. He defined anti-hero in a decade in which anti-heroes became beloved, even expected. He survived anything. He had attitude. He fought back against anyone. Wolverine, the man you could never beat. The mutant who never died. The hero we 80s losers deserved.
Like fan-boy kids do, we argued about who was the best, who could beat who. Wolverine wasn’t always top of that most powerful list, but he was so beloved that the debates turned to borderline fist fights. Wolverine, man! Far and away, Wolverine was the coolest, most bad ass favorite of nearly everyone I knew back then. We wanted to talk like him, sneer a little like him, imagine our own stories of bad-asses like him. WOLVERINE!
Fast forward a few years. Bryan Singer makes an entertaining X-Men movie. The sequels aren’t great. The reboots are fun, then flat. Wolverine’s “solo” movies aren’t so great, either. Still, Hugh Jackman’s good at it. He builds his own history.
And it comes to the last movie, a movie only possible with all this history, all the parts and histories of those comic glory days and more recent Hollywood dazzlers.
Here he is, not even Wolverine anymore. Logan, an old man, who’s survived it all. Sure, the set-up is a little cliché. The old Wolvie fan in me loves it anyway. Professor X as an even older man, virtuously begging his old friend for help, never letting the dream die. I hear his powers don’t work. Everyone he loved and fought for appears to be gone. I’m watching this trailer for the 30th or so time and pumping my fist.
This movie could be a total disaster, though I just saw a review that says it ain’t. If nothing else, give the people who made this trailer an Oscar. It took thirty plus years for it to age this way. The Johnny Cash version of Hurt. The last shred of hope in Patrick Stewart’s voice. Logan the anti-hero resisting, then fighting, one last time. The last X-Men standing. If the movie is half this good, put it among the best of the superhero pantheon of movies. All the trailers are brilliant, but Trailer #1 kills me.
I can’t wait, bub.