Who would have thought a movie about my favorite Marvel character would see me putting my dad’s mortality into perspective?Photo by Lena Rose on Unsplash
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved comic books. I loved the animated shows about comic book characters, the movies, and all of the toys as well. At an early age I identified with X-Men’s Wolverine. He had a hot temper, was a loner, and could never get the girl he was after. Of course I didn’t know these things when I was a child. I just thought he was cool because he had adamantium claws that came out of his knuckles.
I went opening night to see Logan in the theater. This was the Wolverine movie I had been waiting on for years. A tale about the tortured soul of James Howlett that was overflowing with the blood from those that ran across his path. Thanks to Deadpool just a year earlier I had high hopes for what kind of gore would he weaved into the storytelling by James Mangold.
In Logan we’re introduced to a Wolverine that has had one too many drinks and is over his prime fighting years. He spends most of the film in physical pain from wounds that are healing slower than past years, while his mental anguish of taking care of Professor Xavier (and later X-23) proves to be just as hard.My dad came to see me work when I lived in Augusta, GA
My mother-in-law was kind enough to gift the Bluray copy of Logan to me for Christmas a couple of years ago. It wasn’t until I watched the movie not long after receiving it that I recognized the similarities this movie has with my relationship with my father.
My dad just turned 60 last December. His health has been declining for the last decade; he turned 50 and seemingly began to fall apart. Around the time I was graduating college he was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has begun crippling him in ways I never thought I would see my hero. If he does yard work or tries to clean the house he has to rest the next day because his body is just too sore to do those activities. I have to remind him all the time that his body can’t do everyday things like it used to. From my perspective, I’m looking out for my dad but to him his pride is hurt; his mind is telling him he can do everything but his body is failing him. Maybe this is something I’ll understand the older I become.
There was a particular scene in Logan that made me reflect on my dad and his declining health. In the opening of the movie we see our hero fighting some car jackers. As Logan extends his claws to show he’s ready for war, one of them gets stuck. If you haven’t seen the movie think of it like rolling down your car windows on a nice day but the motor stops from rolling one of them down more than halfway. Later in this opening act we see Logan cleaning his adamantium claws and wincing in pain as he pulls the dysfunctional one from his knuckle to continue the process. At that moment it struck me how similar this movie was to what I’ve experienced with my father the last few years. We’re all mortal, no matter what we want to think of our earthly capabilities. As much as I don’t want to think about it, my father won’t be here one day. That’s a reality I’m not ready to face. I’m lucky to have my dad apart of my life. I’ve learned what it means to take care of a family and what not to do all by watching him for my entire life.
Seeing Logan gave me a new perspective on my relationship with my dad. I’ve begun learning more about him as a person, not the guy who is my father. While ultimately he’ll face the same fate that happened to Wolverine at the end of the movie (hopefully far less brutal) there’s still time for him to make peace with his life. My dad, just like Wolverine, is a tortured soul. His relationship with his parents wasn’t great, he’s a functioning alcoholic, and he has two failed marriages to his name. And now his health is starting to decline.
There are a lot of issues that he’s buried deep within himself. That’s what I’m going to focus on doing for the remaining time I have with my dad on this earth. I’m going to help him feel peace and be free with everything he’s hidden for all of these years. There’s a quote from Professor Xavier in the movie that now stands out even more and I hope it’s something that my dad will understand: