We’re used to seeing superheroes balancing saving the world with protecting their beloved. Logan is a superhero movie of a different stripe. Wolverine is no longer a gonzo loner reluctantly adjusting to teamwork and love triangles. He’s now an aging icon of the sandwich generation caregiver: painfully devoted to a father figure deep in cognitive decline, and suddenly saddled with a rebellious daughter figure with special needs. He must protect them from a hostile world, while protecting the world from their formidable but poorly controlled gifts.
I cannot overstate how much I loved this movie. While my ‘Arrival’ review sits in my drafts box struggling with profound revelations and weird grammar, this one was running through my head as the credits rolled.
Like nearly one in five adults in the U.S. Logan is providing unpaid care. Like 40% of those caregivers, he’s a guy struggling with the clash of macho culture with the drive to relieve the suffering of someone he loves. Like two-thirds of caregivers today, he’s working to support a household. And like 17% of caregivers today, his health is poor and getting worse. These are all 2015 numbers from the NAC/AARP report on Caregiving in the United States. The prevalence and impact of caregiving, and the number of folks like Professor X struggling with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia, are all projected to rise steeply between now and the movie’s setting in 2029.
It has enough gore to earn its hard R rating. But there are moments of such truth and tenderness I cried, a lot. This is a movie for the coming decade.