Hugh Jackman stars in the superhero movie ‘Logan,’ released in March. IMDB

“Logan” proved to me that the superhero genre was not a lost cause. In the same way that “The Dark Knight” was able to blend phi­losophy with enter­tainment, this film seam­lessly mixed its roots with the classic Western. This last thread of Logan’s story in the X-Men uni­verse is a sat­is­fying vale­diction to both the comic-book and Western genres it emu­lates. The most edi­fying facet of “Logan” is how James Mangold honors the dying superhero.

Over time, both classic Westerns and comic-book movies have stood out as the most uniquely American genres in cinema. Sadly,  Hol­lywood has a short attention span and tends to break down the myths behind them. What has taken the place of these genres? The industry now mass-pro­duces poorly made films so fast that the quality suffers.

Logan strongly states: “Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.” The film begins with a drunk Hugh Jackman sleeping in his rental lim­ousine by the Mexican border (and no, ladies, he does not sing a note in this joyride). And as the movie pro­gresses, his beard turns gray and some­thing can­cerous seems to be eating away at his body. For him, hope is not an option. In this per­for­mance, Hugh Jackman stands out in his most impressive work yet; he appears to the audience as a tired legend, fading far from the lime­light. But as the story pro­gresses, the motley family he attached himself to, in the end,  tames him.

All mutants appear to be wiped out except for Logan, his teacher Charles Xavier, and an albino named Caliban. But when a young mutant Laura (who later turns out to be his daughter) arrives at their hideout with a bounty hunter on her heels, Logan makes the decision to take them all to a utopian haven up north. As the story pro­gresses, we enter into a modern Wild West – casinos, ranches, and deserts.

And yet, after the senseless debacles of “Suicide Squad” and “Deadpool,” my hopes were crushed. Was “Logan” any less violent than these films? Hardly. Logan fights sav­agely to provide a better life for his daughter. This sac­ri­ficial love trans­forms him into a tra­di­tional hero.

Picture Clint Eastwood directing a Cormac McCarthy novel and you are close to visu­al­izing its style. Just as Eastwood showed the bru­tality of vio­lence in his Oscar-winning “Unfor­given,” Mangold ushers in a hero who must accept that family is worth sac­ri­ficing himself for. By the end of the film, Logan chases after death as if it was his last hope for his daughter. “Logan” not only pro­duces a violent land­scape on which to reorient the viewer towards some­thing mean­ingful, but also vin­di­cates both the Western and superhero genres in the process.

The cin­e­matog­raphy uses the land in stunning ways, pro­ducing shots similar to John Ford’s Westerns. And con­trary to most superhero films, director James Mangold art­fully com­poses the action scenes viewed from ground level. This way, its fight chore­og­raphy is more direct and real­istic; it is impressive how the film moves effort­lessly without being dragged down by the incessant vio­lence.

Mangold’s visual style also res­ur­rects a passing era – in par­ticular, the three mas­terful shots all filmed near grave sites. During a crucial moment, Pro­fessor X and Laura watch a funeral scene from the 1953 quin­tes­sential Western “Shane.” Moments after the service, the hero of the same name com­forts a boy by saying “There are no more guns in the valley.” The gun­slinger has saved the town from the corrupt ranchers through vio­lence, and must live with the blood on his hands. Shane sac­ri­fices his own inno­cence to protect the boy’s family. The res­o­lution of “Logan” mirrors this scene in “Shane,” lauding the Wolverine in the same light as the hero of the Old West.

Patrick Stewart loses none of his Shake­spearean dignity, while still car­rying himself as a tor­tured invalid with dementia. New­comer Dafne Keen as Laura also shares a raw per­for­mance which matches both Jackman and Stewart’s pace. In the center of the film, Logan and his com­rades share a meal with a pious family at their farm. After­wards, Charles says to him ten­derly: “This is what life looks like: people love each other.” Logan comes to realize that the only beauty in a seem­ingly hopeless land­scape is a father’s sac­ri­ficial love for his family. Espe­cially in this scene, James Mangold’s screenplay show­cases well-crafted moments of dia­logue amidst all the violent action.

Like Scorsese’s “Silence” and Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge,” this movie robs viewers of any hope outside of its con­verging message: sac­ri­ficial love pre­serves life. James Mangold takes the grit­tiness of “Deadpool” and trans­forms it into some­thing beau­tiful in “Logan,” while also paying homage to both the Western and the comic-book genres. As a distant exile, Logan has brought dignity to the Marvel superhero.