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All big movie genres have life cycles:
they're born, they become popular,
they exhaust themselves,

and then, if they're important enough, they transform.
Hugh Jackman's 17-year tenure as Wolverine,
I think, bookends two important milestones
in the superhero film genre.

2000's "X-Men", directed by Bryan Singer,
was effectively the start of the superhero craze

that's come to dominate Hollywood
for nearly two decades.

And now, 2017's "Logan", directed by
James Mangold, represents a response

to the public's exhaustion with that dominance.
If you want to understand how genres change,
the writer to look at is definitely John Cawelti,
whose famous essay on generic transformation is, I think, a good rubric for what's happening in "Logan."
Cawelti is basically interested in what occurs when genre conventions become so well-known
that the audience demands something new.
What forms does that change take?
Well, Cawelti identifies four: burlesque, nostalgia, demythologization, and reaffirmation.
Burlesque is essentially a ridiculous exaggeration,
or a parody of genre conventions.

To finish Leo Braudy's quote from the start of this video,
"Genres turn to self-parody to say, 'Well, at least if we make fun of it for being infantile, it will show how far we've come.'"
Mel Brooks is, of course, a master at this kind of thing, and not just for westerns.
Moments of burlesque can be found
in serious movies too

when a trope is made to suddenly look ridiculous, undercutting the fantasy with reality.
In the superhero genre, "Deadpool", a film
that helped pave the way for "Logan",
is a burlesque through and through.

"Superhero landing. She's gonna do a superhero landing, wait for it!"
"Whoooo! Superhero landing! You know, that's really hard on your knees... totally impractical, they all do it."
Nostalgic films, the ones that are good, anyway,
do more than evoke a romanticized past:

they update tried-and-true story lines
with contemporary elements;

they make the audience aware of the relationship between past and present.
Cawelti cites "True Grit," but Shane Black's "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" fits the bill as well,
a hard-boiled detective story in which
many of the tropes are deromanticized,

but the story ultimately follows
the same beats of discovery and heroism.

"All done." [sighs]
Demythologized films are
the most complex of the bunch.

They subject popular myths and conventions
to a reality that undercuts and exposes them
as inadequate, or even harmful.

Cawelti's archetypal example of this
is Roman Polanski's "Chinatown,"

a film that follows the hard-boiled detective genre of classic films like "The Maltese Falcon" or "The Big Sleep,"
until events become so dark and twisted
and devoid of moral content,

that justice is never served,
and the detective is left severely traumatized.

Another movie like this would be
the Coen Brother's "No Country for Old Men",

in which the lawman of the New West, Tommy Lee Jones, not only fails to capture the villain,
but fails to understand him.
''But I don't wanna push my chips forward
and go out and meet something I don't understand"
The final transformation is the reaffirmation of myth:
the kind of film that subverts genre
like the demythologized film, but, in the end, choses to reafirm the myth
not as something that's real,
but as something that we need to believe.
I wonder if you can think of a superhero film that might fall into that category...
So, what is "Logan"?
Clearly, it represents some shift in this extraordinarly popular genre.
If "Deadpool" signals a self-awareness that
the myth of the superhero movie is losing a bit of its power, then
I think "Logan" is an attempt to interrogate the contours of that myth
in order to see if there are any interesting directions left for it to go.
Director James Mangold is a movie buff,
and something that's really interesting about "Logan"
is how he uses one genre to understand another:
Mangold states "Logan"s key theme via a scene from "Shane", one of the most popular
and acclaimed westerns of all time.
"A man has to be what he is, Joey.
Can't break the mold.
I tried it and it didn't work for me.
We want you, Shane.
Joey, there's no living with...
with a killing.
There's no going back from one"
Westerns are really the perfect genre to mesure the superhero movie.
The myth of the superhero is, in many ways, a reincarnation of the myth of the gunslinger.
Both are heroes who act outside the law to protect the community at large.
Mangold makes these parallels explicit in a sequence mid-way through the movie,
when Logan, Charles and Laura are taken in by a kindly family, the same way that Shane is taken in.
Both Logan and Shane help the family with work and protect them from greedy bussiness interests,
but, though Shane is somewhat haunted by his life as a gunslinger,
his purpose and the code of laws he lives by
is still necessary to protect the community in the end.
In Magold's version, the violence that follows the heroe can't be contained.
Far from the valley being saved, Logan's kindly family is mercilessly and utterly destroyed.
And, if the point wasn't clear, it's by none other than a clone of Logan himself.
This is the closest that "Logan" comes to demythologization
The whole movie is a meditation on the violence that all superhero films implie.
By earning a R-rating, Magold and Jackman get to show a type of visceral brutality that complicates the
heroics of Logan's past, as well as those of the X-Men , and all superheroe's.
Like it does Shane, Logan holds up the romanticized past of previous superhero movies
in the form of comic books.
" You do know that they're all bullshit, right?
Maybe a quarter of it happened,
and not like this."
Logan is attempting to expose the inadequacy of these fantasies,
trying to show that no personal moral code can wield power without risking devastation.
This is made painfully clear in the character of Xavier, whose aging mind, it's implied,
may have unintentionally killed a number of inocent mutants.
But, for Logan himself, the past exploits of heroism from the other movies
reamerges as trauma and nightmares.
In the touching with Laura near the end, he even admits to contemplating suicide.
"Actually, I... hum
... I was thinking of shooting myself with it...
... like Charles said."
In the end, Logan makes the final turn into reaffirmation:
one last act of sacrificial heroics that reaffirms the myth, even after
exposing it as inadequate.
You know, it makes me wonder if this is the limit of superhero movies.
It's unclear whether a film that's sought to fully demythologize this myth could ever really get made
or if the genre itself is even mature enough to handle such a thing.
In fact, I think "Logan" leaves us with these exact questions.
The movie itself is a conversation between nostalgia for the genre
and our increasing frustration with its limits.
More than anything, I'm just excited for what's to come.
Because, it's transition periods like this, as Cowelti might say,
when the really interesting things begin to happen.
Hey everybody
thank you so much for watching.

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羅根:變老的超級英雄電影 (Logan: Superhero Movies Get Old)

191 分類 收藏
timemachine 發佈於 2018 年 6 月 26 日
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