Movie Structure Breakdown: Logan

Format: Movie

Released: 2017

Written By: Scott Frank, James Mangold and Michael Green

Directed By: James Mangold

Run Time: 131 minutes

Character: James “Logan” Howlett aka Wolverine

Apologies for the delayed update, storytellers. I’ve been planning a June wedding with my fiance, and as you can imagine, have been rather busy. I hope to get back on a more structured schedule in July, starting with a video breakdown of the 2017 Marvel masterpiece, Logan. In the meantime, enjoy the written six act breakdown of the film and be sure to drop any comments or questions below!

ACT ONE: DEALING WITH AN IMPERFECT SITUATION

A character in an Imperfect Situation faces Oppressive Opposition as he pursues an Initial Goal. But when there is a Disturbance to his routine, he faces a Dilemma regarding his situation, and must assume a New Role.

Logan, an alcoholic chauffeur and former superhero with ailing health, (the imperfect situation) faces gangbanger homies, obtuse clients and bothersome friends (oppressive opposition) while trying to scrape up enough money to buy a boat to take Charles Xavier somewhere safe (initial goal). But when a Mexican nurse and a little girl in her custody approach Logan seeking protection, (the disturbance), the evil corporation in pursuit of them kills the nurse (the dilemma) leaving the girl in Logan’s care (the new role).

The Imperfect Situation: Logan is immediately established to be sick, drunk and no longer the unstoppable force he once was. No longer a superhero, he now drives a limousine, chauffeuring drunk idiots back and forth across the Mexican border.

He and Charles are holed up in an abandoned smelting factory with Caliban due to Charles’ diminishing mental condition and the danger he poses to everyone in his vicinity. The other X-Men are nowhere to be found.

Initial Goal: Save up for a Sunseeker to move Charles out to sea.

Oppressive Opposition: A gang of cholos attempt to jack Logan’s leased ride. Logan’s clients assume he’s nothing more than an unimportant chauffeur. Charles is old and feeble, cursing Logan for his current condition. Caliban is hard on Logan for failing to provide Charles with the proper care he needs, as well as his inability to discuss his failing health and rampant alcoholism.

This is a video not a GIF.

Turning Point Catalyst – The Disturbance:  Gabriela shows up at a funeral where Logan is serving as a limo driver and asks for his help. As she drives away a strange little girl is seen peering out the back window at him. Shortly thereafter, he is approached by Transigen’s cybernetically-enhanced Chief of Security, Donald Pierce, who demands that Logan contact him immediately if he sees Gabriela.

Spoiler alert: These are the bad guys.

When Logan returns to his hideout with Charles and Caliban in Mexico, it is revealed that his healing factor is failing and he is sick. Charles tells him that he has been telepathically communicating with a new young mutant, but Logan doesn’t believe him because no new mutants have been born in twenty years.

Turning Point One – The Dilemma: Start Time: 20 minutes (14.5%) – After chauffeuring a group of drunk girls to prom, Logan receives a new fare that turns out to be Gabriela and Laura. When Logan learns Gabriela has been gravely injured in escaping Transigen, and she offers him $50,000 to drive her and Laura to North Dakota, he relents and agrees to take them.

When Logan returns to Gabriela’s hotel to pick them up, he finds her murdered and Laura missing. Logan goes back to his hideout to collect Charles and flee before Transigen comes asking questions, only to find that Laura has stowed in his trunk and he inadvertently brought her with him. When Transigen’s goons arrived to collect the girl, it is revealed that she has mutant powers very similar to Logan’s.

And a very similar disposition.

Logan, Charles and Laura managed to escape Transigen, while Caliban is captured.

The Bug-Eyed Caliban in its natural habitat.

The New Role: Logan becomes Laura’s guardian.

Act Run Time: 42 of 131 minutes (18.3%)

ACT TWO: LEARNING THE RULES OF AN UNFAMILIAR SITUATION

The character Learns the Rules of an Unfamiliar Situation and faces Incidental Opposition in pursuit of a Transitional Goal. But when he receives a Reality Check, he makes a Commitment to his New Role.

Act Start Time: 42 of 131 Minutes (32%)

Logan and Charles become custodians of a little girl and fugitives from Transigen (the unfamiliar situation) who track and attack them in relentless pursuit of Laura (incidental opposition) while the pair tries to figure out why the company wants her dead (transitional goal). But when Logan discovers the girl is technically his daughter (the reality check) he ultimately decides to try to keep her safe from Transigen (the commitment).

The Unfamiliar Situation: Logan and Charles become fugitives from Transigen while trying to take care of little girl. 

Hilarity ensues.

Transitional Goal: Figure out why Transigen is trying to kill Laura.

Incidental Opposition: Transigen attacks Logan and Charles in attempt to recover Laura.

Turning Point Catalyst – The Reality Check:  Logan watches the first half of Gabriela’s video and discovers Laura is his daughter. Without all the bow chicka bow wow benefits. He also learns she was the subject of a corporate military experiment like he himself, and promptly realizes just how savage she is.

Daddy’s little girl.

 

Turning Point Two – The Commitment: Start Time: 49 Minutes (37.4%) – Logan watches the second half of Gabriela’s video, sees why Transigen is trying to kill Laura and the other kids, and decides to protect Laura.

Act Run Time: 11 of 131 minutes (8%)

ACT THREE: STUMBLING INTO THE CENTRAL CONFLICT

The character stumbles into the Central Conflict and faces Intentional Opposition in pursuit of a False Goal. But when there is a grave Turn of events, he has a Moment of Truth.

Act Start Time: 53 of 131 Minutes (40.4%)

Logan finds himself at odds with Transigen (the central conflict) who relentless tracks him Charles and Laura (intentional opposition) while the trio tries to make their way to North Dakota drop Laura off and buy Charles’ boat (false goal). But when Transigen and their soulless killing machine, X-24 kills the Professor (the turn) Logan reveals that he is dying and agrees to take Laura to Eden (the moment of truth).

The Central Conflict: Logan and Charles are now in direct odds with Pierce, Dr. Zander Rice, and Transigen.

False Goal: Protect Laura from Transigen.

Intentional Opposition: Using Caliban as a bloodhound, Transigen relentlessly tracks the trio and repeatedly attacks them with the intention of killing them all.

Turning Point Catalyst – The Turn: X-24 fatally stabs Professor X and kills the Munson family. Caliban kills himself to prevent Transigen from tracking Laura any further.

The face of Caliban will forever haunt your dreams.

Logan and Laura escape with Charles’ body and bury him in the woods like the family’s dead dog.

Well, now we can get a puppy.

Logan loses it, smashes up their truck and collapses in the street.

Turning Point Three – The Moment of Truth: Start Time: 95 of 131 Minutes (72%) – Logan awakens in a rural doctor’s office. We discover that Logan knows exactly what’s killing him: his adamantium skeleton. He reveals to Laura that he probably won’t survive the trip to North Dakota. It’s also revealed that Laura can talk when she goes full Latina on him. When she refuses to relent, Logan agrees to take her to “Eden”. Immediately afterward, we learn that Pierce now knows the location of Eden thanks to Laura’s photo of her friends.

Act Run Time: 48 of 131 minutes (36.6%)

ACT FOUR: IMPLEMENTING A DOOMED PLAN

The character implements a Doomed Plan and faces Self-Inflicted Opposition in pursuit of a Penultimate Goal. But when an unthinkable Lowpoint occurs, he pulls himself together and discovers a Newfound Resolve.

Act Start Time: 101 of 131 Minutes (76.3%)

Logan attempts to deliver Laura to her friends (the doomed plan) unaware that they have unintentionally provided Transigen with their location (self-inflicted opposition) when he takes Laura to Eden (penultimate goal). But when Logan refuses to help the kids cross the border and denies any sentimentality for Laura (the lowpoint) he discovers Transigen is about to intercept the kids and springs into action to intervene (the newfound resolve).

The Doomed Plan: Though Logan manages to get Laura to Eden, he nearly succumbs to his illness in the process. Pierce and Transigen track the kids down shortly before they can escape.

Penultimate Goal: Take Laura to Eden.

Self-Inflicted Opposition: Laura inadvertently provides Pierce with the coordinates to Eden, allowing Transigen to easily track them down.

Turning Point Catalyst – The Lowpoint: Logan tells Laura he was planning to kill himself with the adamantium bullet. She takes the bullet away while he’s sleeping. Laura attempts to get Logan to come with them to Canada, but Logan gives a heartfelt monologue that implies that he doesn’t care about her. Both Laura and Logan are saddened by this.

Turning Point Four – The Newfound Resolve: Start Time: 114 of 131 minutes (87%) Logan awakens to find the kids have gone and left him some of the medicine. While he’s thoughtfully surveying the horizon, Logan spots Transigen drones headed in the direction the children went and sets off after them to intervene.

Act Run Time: 14 of 131 minutes (10.6%)

ACT FIVE: TRYING A LONGSHOT

The character tries a Longshot and faces Ultimate Opposition while trying to accomplish the Ultimate Goal. But just when it seems All is Lost, he makes a Final Push against the forces of antagonism and either succeeds or fails.

Act Start Time: 115 of 131 minutes (87.7%)

A weak and dying Logan faces of with Transigen and X-24 (the longshot), a younger stronger version of himself (ultimate opposition), to help Laura and the kids escape into Canada (ultimate goal). But when all the children are apprehended and Logan’s serum wears off, (all is lost) Logan battles X-24 and barely defeats him with Laura’s aid (the final push).

The Longshot: The ailing Logan attempts to take on X-24 and the battle-hardened Transigen cyborgs with the aid of a few snot nosed kids and a bottle of Popeye’s spinach juice.

I’m all jacked up on Mountain Dew!

Ultimate Goal: Help Laura and the kids escape Transigen.

Ultimate Opposition: Logan and the Transigen kids face off with Pierce, the Reavers and ultimately X-24.

Turning Point Catalyst – All is Lost: All the children except Laura are apprehended. Logan’s medicine wears off

Turning Point Five – The Final Push: Start Time: 120 of 131 minutes (91.6%) – Logan engages X-24 to buy the kids time to escape, but is overpowered. Laura uses Logan’s adamantium bullet to kill X-24. Logan acknowledges Laura as his daughter before dying in her arms.

Giving new meaning to sharing blood.

Act Run Time: 13 of 131 minutes (9.9%)

ACT SIX: LIVING IN A NEW SITUATION

Having accomplished (or failed to have accomplished) the Ultimate Goal, the character is shown living in a New Situation.

Act Start Time: 128 of 131 minutes (97.7%)

Having succeeded in keeping Laura safe from Transigen, Logan succumbs to his wounds while the kids escape into a future free of imprisonment.

The New Situation: The children bury Logan under a pile of rocks and hold a vigil for the last X-Man before running off into the woods.

Act Run Time: 3 of 131 minutes (2.2%)

X marks the spot.

 

To learn more about six act structure, purchase your copy of “Actions and Goals: The Story Structure Secret” today!

2 thoughts on “Movie Structure Breakdown: Logan

  1. Yan September 15, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    Is this six act structure something you came up with? Because we usualy learn that the act structure is dividade in three acts.

    Just wondering.

    • Marshall Dotson September 17, 2017 / 11:28 pm

      Thanks for asking, Yan

      I didn’t as much come up with the Six Act Structure as discovered the pattern of six character actions hidden inside the traditional three act paradigm. I refer to those traditional three as Dramatic Phases because they merely provide the dramatic context of the phase of the story, while the six actions are indeed “acts” that the character undertakes. But the Six Acts do indeed fit into the traditional Dramatic Phases as such…

      Dramatic Phase One: Setup
      Act One
      Act Two

      Dramatic Phase Two: Confrontation
      Act Three
      Act Four

      Dramatic Phase Three: Resolution
      Act Five
      Act Six

      I found it to be a useful tool for digging deeper into the structure of stories than the traditional three act paradigm while still maintaining it’s integrity. I explain it deeper in my book, but I hope that helps to clarify.

      Thanks!
      Marshall

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