It’s no secret that it’s hard to end a story. Just look at the number of sequels that are released. Why complete a story when you don’t want to let go of the characters? When you still have more ideas for it? …When you could keep making money off it? Maintaining quality, that’s why.
Logan is the first real ‘end’ in the superhero franchises, excluding standalone trilogies like The Dark Knight and Spiderman. There’s a lot to learn from its willingness to let go of such a popular storyline.
In the current superhero franchises, stories don’t ‘end.’ The Iron Man trilogy is finished (for now…), but Tony Stark still showed up in Age of Ultron and Civil War. There’s no clear plan for a fourth Captain America movie, but it’s not the end of the line for Steve Rogers.
Logan, though? He’s done.
Regardless of actor contracts or other real world reasons, we know from the story that the story is over. Yes, he died (I said there’d be spoilers), but more importantly (especially in a superhero world) his arc is complete. He began the story with no hope, but finishes with a little. He began as no longer an ‘X Man’ but in the end, an X marks his grave. He began as a son, of sorts, to Xavier, and ends as a father to Laura. That internal completion is important. Someone shouldn’t have to look to outside sources to know if a story is over.
That last bit of character development is especially interesting. Logan began the movie as a son, caring for an ailing father. Caring for someone like that is definitely a good thing and has its own rewards, but it’s depressing in that he knows how it will end. There’s no long-term future, he’s only protecting the present. But Logan ends the movie as a father, as someone who is nurturing the beginning of a life, protecting the future.
There’s a finality with this movie that’s lacking in many others. There’s no setup for a sequel- there’s a possibility that the kids come back, but that’s unnecessary. There are no loose ends or new plot introduced in the last minutes. In fact, if you sit through the Johnny Cash song during the credits (which you really should, just because it’s Johnny Cash), you’ll find there’s no end credit scene. To an audience who’s accustomed to that epilogue setting up a future movie, that really drives home that this story is over.
When you finish a story, don’t be afraid to write ‘the end,’ not just physically, but metaphorically as well, on the characters. Whether they die or not, their arc should be completed- they should have changed, or not, in a decisive way. And don’t waste your precious last minutes or pages hinting at a sequel- not only does it draw focus away from your ending, but it lessens the emotional impact of that ‘goodbye.’
What did you think of Logan?