Category Archives: Film

Logan: When a Hero Wants to Die

**This has spoilers. Don’t read it if you haven’t seen Logan yet. If you haven’t seen Logan yet, go and see Logan.**

I failed to write a play in my twenties. It was about an ageing James Bond. I wondered what it would be like for the hero who always returns to get put out to grass before he is ready. It was a rotten play, but I always liked the idea. Then Logan blew it away. The new Wolverine film grabs the question about what happens when a recurring hero meets a real ending, and takes it to a new level. Logan asks a darker question than I ever dared: what if the hero is ready to go — but his universe won’t let him die?

Episodic heroes, who return to fight through adventure after adventure, must always have their final ending hidden somewhere over the horizon. It’s utterly remarkable that Marvel had the courage to make a film about a recurring character’s longing for death. Maybe they greenlit it for the fight sequences and forgot to read the rest of the script.

Wolverine, with his superhuman healing powers and unbreakable claws, is a character designed for one adventure after another. Logan imagines a time where those tricks begin to fail, but the adventures won’t stop. Like all the rest of us, Wolverine gets old and needs glasses. Instead of instant healing, he is crusted with wounds. And inside, his psyche is tortured by all the violence he has seen. Like the malfunctioning androids in the Westworld remake, he no longer resets as he goes through his endless loop of adventure after adventure. The memories and the wounds accumulate, unbearably. He is rotting from the inside.

Logan takes seriously how appalling it would be to live as an episodic hero. To go through such punishment again and again. As a matter of formal structure, heroes suffer their way through stories. Most only have to do it once. Episodic heroes are chained to the wheel forever. Worse still, bad things must always happen to those around the hero. In Logan this is taken to its appalling conclusion when Wolverine makes the mistake of thinking he can spend a restorative night with the loving family that offered his band of misfits a welcome. The hero defends the borders of the promised land, but he can never live there.

It is little surprise that Wolverine wants to die — especially since the world around him has rejected his breed of heroism. There are no more mutants. Professor Xavier is dwindling into a second childhood. The X-Men are only remembered in simplified and exaggerated comic books.

And yet adventure keeps coming. And Wolverine is called to suffer again. The world thinks it doesn’t need him. He thinks the world is right. Both are wrong.

And remarkably, deftly, the film rewards Wolverine’s sacrifice. It concludes when he learns the only way a hero can die: by teaching his replacement. His release comes when his ferocious, lab-grown daughter picks up the adamantium bullet Wolverine longs to fire into his own brain, and uses it to destroy the monster. For the first time, she rejects the longing to escape the struggle, controls her strength and kills as a human hero, not an animal. And at last Wolverine is released — at least until the inevitable reboot.

Logan is a terrifying movie. It reminds us how much we ask of heroes, and how desperately we need them, even when we try and convince ourselves we are better off without them.

My book has no superheroes in it. But it will show you new ways to fight for what you believe in if you buy it now.

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What our politicians can learn from the Hunger Games rules of persuasion

PANEM today, Panem tomorrow, Panem forever.” You need to watch the chilling new teaser for the next Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay. Its cool irony confirms the series’s remarkable journey from minor young adult diversion to cultural milestone. The series of thrillers is no cinematic masterpiece, but 30 years on from 1984 it is helping inoculate a new generation against the horror and seductions of tyranny. Continue reading

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Inside Pixar: Management lessons from the animation powerhouse

THIS week, Pixar finally broke its silence, offering a glimpse of its next film. Inside Out won’t be released until next summer, but already the critics are gushing, with Peter Debruge writing in Variety that it could provide a whole new way to visualise how our minds work. That’s because the story is actually set inside the head of an 11-year-old girl. Rather like an updated version of the old Numskulls cartoon, the main characters are personified emotions, trying to cope as the girl begins to grow up.

The prospect of a fifteenth hit for the groundbreaking computer animation studio behind Toy Story, Up and Ratatouille is incredibly impressive. Luckily, for the first time we can learn from this achievement as well as admire it, because just like in the upcoming movie, Ed Catmull recently opened up the mind of this creative powerhouse for the public to see how it works. Continue reading

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Don’t misunderstand business beasts: Like Godzilla they’re on our side

IT LOOKS like the monster showdown of the year. I’m not talking about the sadly limited charms of the new Godzilla movie, but the public clash between the state-sanctioned might of Westminster’s MPs and corporate behemoth Pfizer over its takeover bid for Astrazeneca. Yet the monstrous truth is that while the latest kaiju film with its plus-sized lizard king makes for underwhelming popcorn fodder, it shows every sign of being smarter than the commons select committee that quizzed Pfizer boss Ian Read this week. Continue reading

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Three killer business tips from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Seventeen years ago this week, a stake-wielding schoolgirl redefined the possibilities of popular entertainment. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a misfire in its earlier, cinematic incarnation, but Joss Whedon’s television version immediately marked itself out as something extraordinary. Continue reading

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The Lego Movie: Lessons in creative freedom

The Lego renaissance is one of the great business stories of our time. A decade ago the Danish firm was on the brink of bankruptcy. It is all different now. Last autumn it overtook Hasbro to become the second-biggest toymaker in the world. This month’s box-office triumph for The Lego Movie, $50m (£30m) over the Valentine’s weekend alone, underscores how brilliantly the brand has rebuilt itself. Continue reading

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Why Britain needs its own Breaking Bad

Britain needs better liars. Having lost our tolerance for taking reality straight up, we need a more palatable way to swallow hard truths. And for this, truth sugared by fiction looks like the best option we have left. Continue reading

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As the fat lady sings for HMV, the internet is helping build a better future

It has been a week of crushing victories for the internet. It continues to claim victims among retail firms blindsided by the web’s 24/7 stores, with their limitless inventories and weightless products. With thousands of jobs on the line, and hundreds of shops at risk of closure, it would be easy to see the change as a bad thing. Continue reading

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Even Disney can’t pick a winning movie script

SPARE a thought for the Mouse. Disney’s latest movie spectacular, John Carter, has lost the company $200m (£127m) after a disastrous opening. Meanwhile The Hunger Games opens at cinemas today on speculation that it will achieve a record-breaking run. Lionsgate, the studio responsible, has seen its stock rise some 75 per cent this year as the momentum has gathered. Continue reading

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