March's Logan has cemented itself as one of the best comic book movies of the year and one of 2017's best films period The bleak. neo-western is finding its way on to year-end best lists despite its comic book pedigree, partially on the strength of the performances of the two leads. The film marked a melancholy and poetic sendoff for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier, roles they have inhabited for nearly two decades. For Stewart, closing the chapter on his time as Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies was a distinct and rewarding experience as an actor. He noted:
This was the culmination of 16 years of living with this character and working on these movies, and absorbing who Charles Xavier was. And, then along comes James [Mangold] and says, 'OK we're gonna do another one but we're gonna turn you upside down.' ... You know for an actor, it's just jam on your bread to have a role which is the same man underneath but dramatically transformed by illness, by fear, by loneliness, by desperation and by a horrible black humor that he possesses.
The Charles Xavier in Logan is a far cry from the man we knew in the first two X-Men films or even the one in X-Men: Days of Future Past's post-apocalyptic future. This Professor X is one who has faced the worst life has to offer and lost, but survived to continue on. James Mangold wanted to do something different than the traditional superhero fare with Logan, and he succeeded. The vision of Professor X in this film is bitter, lonely and sad, nothing like the sage and optimistic man he once was. It must be exciting for Patrick Stewart as an actor to have this character who he's spent years living with, crafting and coming to know be completely unmoored from who he is. The jam on his bread Patrick Stewart speaks to in Deadline Hollywood's The Contenders attests to the depth and complexity of the role and why it was so rewarding for the actor.
For most actors, they live with a role for a year or two and then move on. But franchise films find actors living with their characters for years at a time. Patrick Stewart has been doing it since 2000's X-Men, the film that deserves credit for kicking off our current cinematic superhero golden age. In Logan, he is not an actor being given the backstory for his character to inform his performance; he has actually performed that entire backstory and lived with it for years. Although Charles Xavier is entirely different than he used to be, he is still somehow, undoubtedly, the same man. This is all credited to the direction of James Mangold and Patrick Stewart's performance, which some feel deserves awards recognition.
Superhero films like Logan do not come around often, and when they do, they can be a great experience for fans and actors alike. Hopefully, even if the Disney purchase goes through, we can still get unique and challenging superhero films like we saw with Logan. While we will probably never see Patrick Stewart in Professor X's chair or Hugh Jackman donning the claws again, we can be content knowing that they went out on a high note. For the future of the X-Men and to see if Logan is recognized come Oscar time, keep an eye on CinemaBlend.