By Malcolm Nygard, Staff Writer
Marvel Studios has been an absolute juggernaut in theaters for ten years now, with even their critically less-beloved entries seeing financial success, and each new chapter painstakingly stitching itself into a massive and complicated tapestry. Avengers: Infinity War, the first part in the end of an eighteen movie saga, easily earned the top opening weekend of all time, beating out Star Wars episodes VII and VIII by ten million dollars. Like any aspiring media outlet, we at Flying Machine couldn’t resist making our own attempt at being heard on the topic, but with countless video essays, Thanos memes, and eye-rolling thinkpieces, we knew it would be impossible to make anything stand out.
Which is why, rather than attempt another self-righteous diatribe about how it’s not really a movie since without the previous pieces you blah, blah, blah, we thought we’d bring in an expert on both super-powered beings and colored apocalypse monster men. James Howlett, who goes by “Logan,” is a retired army veteran who has become an outspoken mutant rights activist and something of a public health defender in recent days. His career stretches back many years, but I personally remember first hearing about him at the Battle of the Statue of Liberty back in 2000. I met Logan in his hotel room, shortly after we had both seen the Avengers film, to hear some of his thoughts.
(Note: The conversation will both contain spoilers about the film, and references and images of violent mutant battles, so if you haven’t seen the film or have any aversion to claw wounds and Phoenix Force trauma, feel free to skip this one.)
Logan had already personalized his room to his lifestyle, with empty whiskey bottles, multiple ashtrays each with partial cigars, and three deep cuts through what used to be an alarm clock/end table combo. I thought better about mentioning the hotel’s No Smoking policy, as the cleaning fee would probably just be added to the other damages. After being the tensest I’ve ever been for a handshake, I began to get into the intricacies of the superhero genre.
MN: How familiar are you with the Marvel series of films?
Logan: What’s a “marvel?”
MN: That’s the whole universe of the movie we just watched.
He stared at me blankly, his ever-present cigar glowing. I mentioned our office emailing him a flow chart of how the previous films fit together, which I don’t believe he received.
Logan: Pretty stupid movie.
MN: Well, I didn’t want to get right to your final take just yet, but I guess that leads me to ask what parts did or didn’t feel true to your experience.
Logan: My experience? Listen, bub, you don’t want to hear the first thing about my experience, but I’ll tell you that if the mutants in this movie were in a real life situation, they wouldn’t-
MN: Uh, actually, they’re not mutants?
MN: Yeah, these characters aren’t mutants. They have special powers from other sources. In these movies they’re called “super heroes”. Kind of a metaphor for mutants.
Logan: Metaphor? Mutants aren’t made up monsters that need metaphors to- you know what? Forget it. All I’m saying is it wouldn’t go down like this.
MN: Do you mind explaining that?
Logan: Alright, look, when the world is *really* in trouble? It won’t be a big purple guy with a commanding stage presence, going around collecting rocks until he has enough power to kill everybody, and all the guys in costumes won’t cleverly use their powers to all team up in a visually exciting way that makes them all distinct characters.
Logan (getting irritated): No, it’ll be a big blue guy, boring as paint, collecting his four followers which somehow enables him to get stronger, and all your teammates, whether you’ve known them for a while, or they have a bland face, but they’re in uniform so that’s probably your mistake forgetting them, will just stand in a circle and blast him with lasers and stuff.
MN: I’m… sorry, clearly there are real world implications to-
Logan: The real world ain’t witty and fun to look at, kid. It’s forgettable.
I looked down at this point to Logan’s knuckles, which were bleeding. I decided to try a lighter topic.
MN: Which of these characters do you think you’d like to work with, if you had to pick?
Logan: Why would I work with any of these idiots?
MN: Just as an exercise. I’ve found people like these kind of questions.
Logan: The same people that like these “marble movies”?
At this point he put out the stub of his cigar and sighed.
Logan: What are my choices?
MN: Well, there’s Iron Man…
Logan: He the annoying one?
MN: With the sort of robot suit? Then Spider-Man-
Logan: Oh, he’s the annoying one.
MN: Captain America-
Logan: Aren’t all these guys American?
MN: Well, he normally has the stars and stripes on his costume, but they’ve stripped it away over all his solo movies, to show the deterioration of his conviction.
Logan stared at me for a moment, and I felt his eyes burn into me as if he could shoot some kind of laser out of them.
Logan: You know I saw Stagecoach in the theater, right?
MN: No… I didn’t. That must have been amazing.
Logan: I don’t remember it. I don’t remember anything before twenty years ago, but I promise you I saw it.
A better reporter may have shown sensitivity or capitalize on the moment here, but I’ll admit I waited uncomfortably.
Logan: I dunno, I’d probably mentor that young scientist girl.
MN: Shuri? That’s a good choice, she’s a breakout character.
By now a new cigar had been lit and another bottle opened.
MN: This film is getting lots of attention for its controversial ending. Most films don’t have the courage to kill off so many main characters and let the villain win on such a large scale. How did the ending strike you?
Logan: Did you just say “Striker?”
MN: “Strike you.” How did the ending strike you?
Logan: Okay, look. The whole thing was a racist propaganda flick, but the ending wasn’t half bad.
MN: Oh, I’m glad to hear that. What did you find affecting? The last words? The visuals?
Logan: Look, they just got it right.
MN: Oh, interesting. In what way? Have, have you seen anyone turn to dust before? Is that a real thing?
I had been writing furiously on my pad, but when I looked up Logan was on his feet, with metal blades coming out of his hands making almost a SNAK sound. His expression barely held back a murderous rage. I peed.
Logan: Bub, I want you to wait until your adopted father figure, and the woman you love, and her dick boyfriend that you begrudgingly respect, and your own flesh get turned to dust in front of you, and then ask all your journalism friends to stop typing on their computers for one friggin’ minute and ask you if a movie about toys got anywhere close to the “real thing.”
When I opened my eyes, a chair and the other end table had been destroyed, and the feathers from the pillows filled the air, drifting slowly down. I’ll never know how I gathered myself, but I attempted to mend the situation.
MN: I am… so sorry… I had no idea.
Logan took a deep breath.
Logan: It’s fine. I went back in time and fixed it.
We took a breather- he to put his knives back in his hands and retrieve his cigar from the floor, me to sit there in my wetness. I composed myself eventually, remembering my journalism classes and the reason I got into this.
MN: I… I thought we could rank the different set pieces, between New York, Wakanda, or the planet Titan, that last one especially ranking very highly for me, personally-
Logan: Are there many more of these? Your secretary said you’d give me your sources on possible Weapon X locations if I just answered a few questions.
MN: Sure, we’ll get them to you right after this. I guess I can wrap it up with one. Let’s see… Oh, this one’s a fun one. If someone were to play you in a future film set in this universe, who would you pick?
Logan: Robert Redford.
MN: Oh! Okay, interesting. He… might be a little old for the physical stunts, and in fact he already played a small role in The Winter Soldier…
I trailed off, as I noticed Logan’s knuckle wounds beginning to split again.
MN: Mister Howlett, thank you for your time. This was really great.
So there you go. I’m definitely green at interviewing famous people, so I may have been a little off my game at times, but I’m proud of the final result. If I came off offensive to mutants or anyone else, I just want to say that’s not who I usually am as a person, and I’m always trying to do better. I don’t know if this interview will be interesting to everyone, or if it’ll open any doors to meeting more of my heroes, but I hope it’ll stand on its own as a look into a really interesting figure and his love of cinema.
If you want to read more about Logan, there’s unfortunately not a lot of material out there, as most leads I tried usually ended with military classification, but if you’ve got the investigative spirit, I wish you the best. And if you have the means, consider giving to the Mutant Defense Fund on their website. There’s always another legal battle to be fought, from registration to Sentinel monitoring, so every dollar helps.