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Logan Noir Is a Black and White Goodbye for the Fans

An account from the room where it happened.

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the Alamo Drafthouse screening of Logan Noir, which was followed by a Q&A with director James Mangold, producer Hutch Parker, and Hugh Jackman. (I’m somewhere in the fifth row of that blurry picture above!) The ferocious and emotional film that marked the end of Jackman’s run as the iconic character was a perfect send-off to Wolverine, so the announcement of the black and white version was a thrilling add-on for fans. After all, Mangold said, the concept of Logan Noir came from the monochromatic images he had been posting and interactions on Twitter.

It was an interesting feeling to be at Logan Noir long after Logan had already come out to lots of critical acclaim. You could pretty much assume that everyone there had seen Logan once, if not several times and cried over that final scene. Jackman told the story of crying at the end next to Patrick Stewart, and also shared that Stephen Colbert had seen the film three times and cried all three times.

It might be easy to see a black and white version of the film as gimmicky, but that also feels like an odd accusation for a film that ended with such finality. Jackman shared that while the two weren’t immediately decided on killing his character, he and Mangold were adamant about it feeling like an earned and appropriate ending with no room for a “will he or won’t he” return. Additionally, the R-rating which Mangold said he proposed with a lesser budget, stripped the movie of a lot of superhero genre elements and the burden of having to sell lunchboxes.

“A huge percentage of the comic book world … is adults, not children,” said Mangold. “It cheats grownups of having some part of their fantasy experience, or their comic book experience honored with adult themes and ideas, and I think getting rated R [gave] us a driver’s license [to make] a more sophisticated movie.”

Mangold made sure to point out that he “loves all his children,” pushing against the idea that Logan Noir was a preferred version, but rather a labor of love (he also noted that his costume designers, cinematographer and production team would kill him for saying otherwise). The director, which hopes that this might lead to marketability for films like this, said:

“People are looking for things that connect to the past, things that look different, things that are new, but also old again. I think for a long time studios have had an assumption that you guys need bright colors at all times to stay amused and loud sounds to stay enthused, and I don’t think that’s true.

I think audiences are getting more sophisticated and more interested in seeing creativity explored all sorts of different ways. Even if for just one night, seeing this movie this way helps people see that there’s audiences out there for a monochrome movie, for a different kind of movie in other way that’s pretty great.”

Logan Noir is a lovely version of the film for a few reasons. The obvious one, as the director points out, is because Jackman and the actors all look stunning in black and white. Without red, the bloodiness becomes less gruesome and everything a bit more solemn, kind of like a heavily inked graphic novel. This isn’t a wildly different movie, and Logan was made to be a film in color.

The film makes references to old westerns like Shane and though that film is in color, the general feeling of, well, oldness really hits on that dramatic and nostalgic feeling. Perhaps that was the driving energy of the night, the nostalgia of it all as we prepared for Jackman and Mangold to appear. When moderator Josh Horowitz pointed out this might be Jackman’s final media appearance for Logan, for Wolverine, I could have cried.

Some might’ve understandably preferred not to drag things out—and I’ll admit I was disappointed to hear the same questions that Jackman had already answered in interviews months ago—but what’s another few months on a 17-year run?

The existence of Logan Noir, the thrill of getting to see it on the big screen, and the send-off felt like a gift for fans who’ve seen and adored Jackman on-screen for 17 years, a relationship that of course had its up and downs. It’s Jackman and Mangold, who knew what the character meant and the weight of it all, recognizing that fandom—and signing off with what felt like an earnest and softer goodbye.

The film is available now on Digital HD and will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD on May 23. While the event was originally a one-night only event, there might be encore screenings in the future. Keep an eye out.

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