Given the deluge of superhero movies in recent years, it was only a matter of time before the Marvel Universe would offer a different take on the genre. Something away from the goofy shenanigans of Guardians of the Galaxy, capable of more levity than the high school backstory of Spiderman could possibly muster. Indeed, in retrospect, a movie starring our beloved Canadian Wolverine with more serious, down-to-earth undertones seems obvious.
The shift in cinematic tone presented by the eponymously-titled Logan is perfectly encapsulated in the choice of trailer music for its first promotional outing.
“Charles, the world is not the same as it was,” Logan cautiously intones to Professor X as the languid acoustic guitar tones of Johnny Cash’s famous cover of Hurt (originally by Nine Inch Nails) wash over turgid shots of a forest and cemetery. With the hit of Cash’s first line, “I hurt myself today,” added timpani-like strokes add impact to the first full shot of our antihero, ravaged by scars and blood.
About midway through the trailer, we are introduced to Logan’s protégé, a young girl whose name we don’t yet know.
As the title card appears, we see a montage of action shots in sync with the chorus, played in double time thanks to the introduction of a piano playing a steady, insistent tone in the upper register. More low drums and rising-tone sound effects lead to a cut of the song to the end of the lyrics where Cash asserts, “I will find a way,” and the opening guitar riff continues, offering some semblance of hope despite the sense of despair that underscores so much of this first trailer.
The second trailer offers a directly contrasting perspective of the film. We enter with in medias resith some generic diegetic background music playing. This relatively low-fi aesthetic serves as an effective contrast to our first SFX hit roughly twenty seconds in, a now-quite-common “power station shutting down” sort of sound that signals a key moment in the trailer’s narrative, in this case the girl’s supernatural display of physical strength.
This mini-prologue gives way at 27 seconds to our studio title card and the main song for this trailer, Kaleo’s “Way Down We Go.” The laid-back atmosphere of this track serves as a counterpoint to Logan’s tense speech. At 0:50-0:56 the trailer offers an intradiegetic moment, as the SFX for the punches and gun fire sync perfectly with the beat.
The studio title card at 1:18 adds vocals with a clear intertextual meaning for the lyrics, “way down we go.” Way down we go, indeed, as Wolverine’s protégé engages in extreme violence, and it becomes clear that the film portends to be as much about Logan as it is about the next generation of superheroes and heroines.
Taken as a whole, the second trailer is quite different from the first, exploring very different aspects of this film. Between these two promotional exercises it is clear that the film promises to be just as engaging as a drama as it will be as an action movie; it was likely very intentional that Marvel would begin on a more down-to-earth note to effectively market the departure of this superhero from the usual cavalcade of Marvel Universe antics. This being said, the second trailer signals that Marvel hasn’t forgotten its core fans, either.
– Curtis Perry