Logan wasn’t a bad movie; it wasn’t great either. However, as a philosophical impetus for reflection, there are a few issues it raises. In what follows, I consider a number of points it raised in me. Be warned. Spoilers follow.
1. We meet Logan who is taking care of Charles Xavier. Xavier has a debilitating neuro-degenerative condition that causes huge psychic quakes. Apparently, some harm followed the first attack in West Chester, so Wolverine is taking care of him in an abandoned dessert in Mexico.
Wolverine is taking care of him, but I think it’s fair to say that he has “burnout syndrome.” Wolverine doesn’t want to be obligated to anyone else. In fact, his care for Charles might just be out of the habit for having done so for so long. Logan seems loyal, but uncaring despite Charles never abandoning hope to see the person Logan either was or could be. Charles’s optimism about who Logan could be seems indicative of a care relation. Logan seems incapable of reciprocity. Let’s face it. Logan is not the type who first comes to mind when you think care ethics.
2. When Gabriela the nurse finds him, Logan wants to be left alone. He wants to earn money for Charles and him to sail off into the sunset. However, such storybook endings are hardly common, especially to a hero that has always bordered on the anti-hero archetype. Now, these archetypes become fused with contemporary racial lines.
Gabriela is a caring Hispanic nurse. She liberated Logan’s clone, X-23 named Laura. Gabriela needs help sneaking her from Mexico to the North Dakota border into Canada. In this way, Gabriela reflects the assymetrical power relationship often found in our culture between Hispanics and Whites. Despite being poor in wealth (which is not the commodity Gabriela is requesting from), Logan possesses capabilities to see her and Laura safely to a sanctuary for mutants in Canada. "He's the best at what he does and what he does is not very nice!" Meanwhile, Logan pushes her aside. He, again, wants to be left alone. By refusing to help them the first time, Logan’s dismissal of her amounts to her death. Here, Logan’s refusal to help again reflects the prevailing asymmetry of contemporary American society. This asymmetry is also reflected in the next few points.
3. What’s interesting is the screenplay’s decision to base the bad guys in Mexico. Transgen is a corporation that has bred a new generation of mutants. These mutants are all persons of color mostly. Throughout the movie, they manifest powers we all know and associate with the X-Men (which makes me think we have a possible new franchise of the more diverse mutants). The corporation has hunted mutants down to near extinction and experimented on kids. They couldn’t do this research easily in the United States, so they decided to set up shop in Mexico.
I can only wonder if metaphors of trafficking and capitalist violence are obvious enough to the point that when Logan actually does help the children in the back of Marvel Studios mind must have been the fear of the Other in American politics emboldened by President Trumps “travel ban” from Muslim nations. Here, Logan dressed in his white trash tank top and jeans. He slowly becomes vested in the children's safety—dressed as the very class of white people often said to have given Trump his victory. In this way, Logan’s moral conversion is a call for an up-turned worldview in which people live up to an ethics of helping strangers and orphans against the American first white nationalism animating Trump and Bannon. I also might remind everyone that the very definition of religion in the Book of James is "to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 2:27). This has been a very contentious point for many Christians (liberal and conservative alike ) as well as characters in the movie reflect this refusal to render aid to those in need of our help.
4. Experimenting on minorities and breeding mutant abilities in those kids reflects the earlier asymmetry. Here, corporate violence is combined with whiteness. The message is simple: capitalism is blind to a person’s dignity. At one point, Dr. Rice warns in Gabriela’s flashback to see the kids as products and Transgen employs enhanced mercenaries to retrieve and/or eliminate the children. This hiring of mercenaries reveals to the audience the corporate complicity of structural violence manifests in actual violence.
5. Logan calls out a dystopian view about coming to the United States from afar. As news circulates about Trump’s unwelcoming others impacts US tourism, Marvel decided to make Canada the sanctuary. From Mexico to the North Dakotan border, the movie never assumes that the United States is a safe space, but rather a place hostile to diversity. That’s why Gabriela the nurse needs escorted.
This hostility to diversity is also reflected in the sub plot of a black family that lives up to helping strangers in the true Christian sense. They take Laura, Charles, and Logan in for the night. They have a farm and are encountering white racists sabotaging their water pump. Logan, the ever so helpful muscle man, goes out to help and assists in the defense of the black family against these white racists while Transgen kills the entire family with another Logan-clone. These two battles happen simultaneously, and the fact that these battles with two Logans occur simulatneously is telling. The moral conversion of the character has become what he is not literally in the film, and the producers and director put the old Logan front and center to serve as a contrast for his hesitant moral conversion.
6. Finally, the death scene where Laura makes a rather unbelievable emotional connection onto Logan. Perhaps, it’s believable in the sense that she is young, never been around people, and that she might be projecting onto Logan. In this moment, She calls him, “Daddy” which is semantically true in a limited sense. In truth, Laura is a clone baby, and this raises questions about how and to what extent biological fathers (and parents) can be responsible for cloned-children--especially for children that were made without explicit permission or agency of a parent volunteering their own biological material. I would think that it's slightly off somehow for Logan to accept her as his daughter even though in a semantic sense he is the father in a very limited sense. I have no idea what the moral belief ought to be for this situation. I do think it’s an interesting philosophical question.