The new version of 2017’s best superhero movie is a perfect companion piece.
There is not a single new frame in Logan: Noir, the black-and-white re-release of Logan, the R-rated X-Men film that’s already being crowned the best superhero movie of the year. There is no alternate ending. There is absolutely no post-credits sting. And yet, this is also not just a film for superfans who have seen the original version 28 times. First-time viewers might be just as receptive to this as they were the original.
Director James Mangold was adamant this is not his planned version of the film from the beginning. “If I said it was my preferred version, my production designer would faint, all that work out the window.” It is true, especially in the final act when the SFX start ramping up and the verdant forests of North Dakota come into play, that you start to wish they’d perhaps switched to color for the final few key sequences. (Those blood splatters sure do look good in deep, deep gray, though.)
The joy of Logan: Noir isn’t its elevation of the original, but how it further underlines the film as a labor of love and trust from Mangold, star Hugh Jackman, and producer Hutch Parker, all of whom participated in a post-screening Q&A at Brooklyn’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. “This came from the fans,” Mangold said of Noir, which was inspired by public response to his black-and-white photos from the set during filming. Jackman himself also revealed he had run into Stephen Colbert the day previous, who admitted to having seen Logan three times, and crying at each and every viewing.
Perhaps most amusing and endearing is the group’s shared reverence of 11-year-old actor Dafne Keen, who plays the mercurial X-23 in the film with such mature intensity. “We wanted a kid,” Mangold said. “Not a CW post-pubescent teen… She’s a real actor. She wanted just to know the vibe of the scene, and got disconcerted when I gave her what I call ‘results notes’ like ‘do this, feel this.'”
“She hated being dragged from set every day,” Jackman added, “She wanted to stay and work. She’s super cool and very relaxed, though at the MTV Awards last Sunday, she came up to me all shy and said, ‘Can you get me a photo with Emma Watson?'”. While Logan is a definitive ending for one of the best superheroes of the modern era, it is very, very likely the beginning of another.
It really is in the film’s first scenes that the whole endeavor makes sense. Logan’s high-tech limo, his dispatching of the requisite dispensable villains right at the top of the film, his first conversation with Xavier in the overturned, rusted water tower, all suddenly feel much more in line with the film’s obvious Western influences. This is a movie set in the future with most of its runtime spent in a desert warehouse forgotten by time. The monochrome only enhances this juxtaposition, the brooding of Jackman’s Logan himself, and the unfortunate plight of the once-great, already-limited Professor X, now further relegated to a hospital bed.
“It makes the new feel old again,” Mangold said, to applause.