After 572 X-Men films, Fox has finally struck gold with Logan.
Ever since Marvel birthed a decade of superhero movies with Iron Man in 2008, the other major studios have faced a dilemma: to copy their technicolor action-comedy formula, or do something different.
Of course, most copied, and of course they couldn't get the recipe quite right, with predictably bland results: Fox's interminable X-Men sequels; Sony's redundant Spider-Man reboot. Warner Bros/DC tried to build its Justice League universe by going Dark and Serious. Unfortunately the films themselves were anything but.
The question got asked: is there a way to tell superhero/comic book stories without following the patented Marvel Technique?
The answer is Logan. Hugh Jackman literally fills the screen as Logan/Wolverine/James Howlett, finally appearing as a fully rounded character with depth and pathos. And rage.
The sense of release is palpable: finally the film and the character have been let off the leash. It's impossible not to wince when his claws tear flesh. Wounds (both physical and emotional) hurt. Age has taken its toll.
Ironically, even if Jackman, Stewart et al are done, there is a cinematic way forward here for Fox. Director James Mangold has cracked the code.
Or was the code cracked long ago, without anyone realising? The superhero story this bears most resemblance to is M. Night Shyamalan's underrated gem from 2000, Unbreakable.