When it comes down to it, Wolverine is all about pain.
His distinctive power, his claws, rip through his hands whenever he uses them. Wherever he goes, there are bodies left in his wake while he heals through whatever punishment they’ve doled out. But then there’s also the mental pain of watching lovers and friends grow old and die while he soldiers on, persisting in peak condition.
So it’s only appropriate that Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” is the soundtrack for what might be one of the most gripping superhero movie trailers I’ve seen. There have been plenty where I walked away impressed by the bombast, by the pyrotechnics. There have been none where I found myself still unpacking it hours later.
It’s the shaking hand that got me. That shot starts us down the road to discovering how far removed Logan is from the superheroics of his past. That hand tells a story – it hints at a lifetime of abuse, damage so deep that the tendons and muscles no longer have the strength to simply remain still. It’s even more shocking when we know it’s the hand of a man who should be rock solid, who does not falter, whose body knits itself back together like a force of nature. Anyone who has watched a parent grow old knows that tremor. It does a better job of level-setting the movie than ten minutes of exposition (or a paragraph of text) could ever do.
Logan’s world is one beset by things falling apart. Beyond his scarred body, he travels landscapes that look carved out from the end of the world, his only friend, an aged Charles Xavier, kept in hospice in a bullet hole-ridden industrial tank. The only bright spots in the trailer focus on Laura (you might also know her as X-23 or the All-New Wolverine), Logan’s clone. Practically obscured in the grey and black of her outfit is a rainbow. The cereal box on the table is almost a relief in its bright contrast to the yellowed decay of the room around her. The only laughter hinted at is a smile shared between Charles, Logan, and Laura – stark in its contrast to the pain, fear, arrogance, and anger expressed throughout the rest of the (too short) minute and forty seven seconds.
We can see in Logan a man who is the ferryman for the previous stage of his life, the age of mutants. He cares for Charles, knowing that they are the last of their kind, that once he goes, it will simply be Logan waiting out the inevitable end as his once nearly indestructible body fails, inch by inch.
The creation of Laura rips away that quiet end. Here, after all this time of waiting for the old guard to die, is someone new, carved from his own flesh. And it’s the desire to save her from his story, to save her from being abused and weaponized like he was, that brings them together (along with a host of soon-to-be-skewered bad guys). So even when, at the end of the trailer when he’s looking down on what I can only imagine is a freshly dug grave for an old friend, there’s hope.
That desire to protect. The fire that it builds deep in parents, so much so that we find ourselves in a blind rage to save those we love, it’s reflected here in ways I never expected. Logan finds himself in the roll of mentor and protector again, long after he considered himself done with that life, the recipients of any wisdom he might have given burnt down around him.
Logan is out March 3 and I would be more than happy if this were the only trailer we got (I know it won’t be; but I can dream). It teases at a story of redemption. Of death interrupted. The almost claustrophobic feel of the trailer promises a movie much different than the cartoonish Hellicarrier-destroying Deadpool that made this R-rated Wolverine tale possible. I can’t wait.