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Why Logan marks the end of an era for superhero films

Hugh Jackman's final Wolverine outing, Logan, has opened to rave reviews—but in addition to being a great film, it also represents some mighty big changes for the X-Men and Wolverine franchises. From bidding farewell to a few of the franchise's biggest stars to showing us essentially how this chapter in the grand story of the X-Men comes to an end, Logan is massively important in the grand scheme of the X-Men film franchise. Here's why we believe Logan marks the end of an era for superhero films.

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It's the end of the 'old' X-Men series

It's been nearly 20 years since the first X-Men film hit the big screen, and that cast has popped up in pretty much every era of the franchise ever since. They anchored the original trilogy, and returned to play the "future" part of Days of Future Past (not to mention some small and cameo roles in the previous solo Wolverine films). Now we have Jackman's Logan and Patrick Stewart's Xavier back for Logan to wrap it all up. And that's what this film does—it almost serves as a coda for that chapter of the franchise. As Fox looks to keep the focus on its younger lineup of stars with the eventual sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse, this is the bookend for the stories that started it all.

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Hugh Jackman is calling it quits

There's one thing that ties pretty much the entire X-Men franchise together, regardless of era, and that's Hugh Jackman. Thanks to the fact that Wolverine doesn't age, he's popped up in pretty much every X-Men film; at this point, it's almost not an X-Men movie without Wolverine. But all that ends with Logan. Jackman has been adamant that Logan is his big farewell to the character—and while the franchise has found success with younger actors and new characters like Deadpool, losing Jackman is the closing of a chapter that's been a part of this story through every phase.

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Patrick Stewart is also retiring

Along with Jackman, the original Professor Xavier—the guy who started the X-Men in the first place—is also calling it quits. Stewart is one of the most recognizable actors in association with this franchise, and this marks his final turn in the role. James McAvoy has done a solid job of taking up Stewart's mantle as Xavier in the prequel films, but for a certain generation of fans, he'll always be Professor X. Considering how long this franchise has been around, there's also the fact that Stewart is now in his 70s. Yes, he's certainly spry and active for his age, but it seems he's finally reached the point where he wants to get out of the wheelchair for good.

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It's the final Wolverine solo film (at least with Jackman)

Admittedly, the Wolverine spinoff franchise started out on a rough note with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Putting it mildly, that movie was a trainwreck. Things got on the right path with the samurai-tinged The Wolverine, which helped set the stage for Logan. Looking to the X-Men franchise, Wolverine was the only proven commodity when it came to spinoff series, until Deadpool came along and broke all the box office records. But Logan marks the end of the Wolverine trilogy, and the final solo film for one of the most recognizable characters in comic book movie history. That's not to say Fox won't eventually recast the role at some point—in fact, we pretty much expect it sooner rather than later—but it's still the end of an era for Jackman's seminal take on the character.

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It pushes the limits of what the genre can do

The rave reviews all make one thing clear when it comes to Logan: It's a fantastic movie, and that isn't being graded on a curve against the adjusted scale of comic book movies. Logan is a brutal, beautiful, personal story that doesn't try to set world-ending stakes. This is a small story, with small stakes, and shows the near-limitless potential for what can be done within the construct of a "superhero" movie. Logan is ambitious in its simplicity, weaving in elements from two-decades of film to tell a story about a handful of people just trying to do what's right.

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It sets the stage for what comes next

Logan wraps up the old saga of X-Men movies, but also sets the stage for whatever Fox wants to do next. We've seen the ending with Logan, so to speak, and now Fox has to figure out what form the X-Men franchise will take next. Thankfully, Logan also blows the doors open in regards to what you can accomplish and the types of stories you can tell with the X-Men. The possibilities are limitless for Fox to do some truly creative things with the franchise. We can't wait to see what comes next.