Logan and Overcoming Rage

Image from Logan.
For Wolverine, denying his rage is like denying breath. Wolverine is characterized by his berserker fury and Logan holds nothing back when it comes to it. He rips, slashes, maims and destroys. He cannot control his anger and knows it. It’s why he warns people they don’t want to mess with him because they will die. But in the film Logan, all that rage has taken a toll on his mind.

I can understand where he’s coming from because I have not always been in control of my anger. There have been times when I have lashed out and caused harm to people and things. While the people who have been hurt can forgive me and eventually forget about it, the fact that I’ve hurt them stays with me much longer. Many years later I can still remember hurt that I’ve caused to others because I couldn’t control how I reacted to anger.

While I am troubled by the hurt I’ve caused, Wolverine has maimed and killed hundreds of people and while I have moments of remembering and feeling sad, he has outright nightmares. When Logan wakes up from one of these nightmares, Laura tells him that she has nightmares too because people have done bad things to her. Logan confesses that his nightmares are because he has done bad things to people.

“Logan Evolution” by Andy Fairhurst (andyfairhurst.deviantart.com).

Giving into rage and lashing out leaves emotional trauma that may never fade. All you can do is try and figure out how to live with it. When Laura, Logan’s daughter, admits that she has done bad things to people too, but justifies it because they were bad people, Logan tells her that the impact of uncontrolled anger hurts you no matter how much the other person deserved it.

Logan tries to keep his distance from Laura because he sees that rage in her and doesn’t want to nurture it, but knows full well he won’t be able to stop himself from modelling uncontrolled aggression. This is why he says that he sucks at caring for others and bringing them up, because his anger controls him. He knows that Laura could become like him if he doesn’t help her see a better way to deal with the things that have been done to her, but he doesn’t know how to do that.

I was once asked what the most significant thing my faith ever did for me, and after thinking carefully, I responded by saying that my faith has helped me break a cycle of violence and abuse for several generations. My father was a violent person who abused substances; his father was similar. My family has been punctuated by violent men who took it out on their children. Rather than let the pain of my past express itself in anger and let that anger control me, I’ve found a measure of peace and let much of that anger go, although not without a tremendous amount of effort. And I know it is there tempting me to use even though I know the outcome will be harmful.

Logan’s response to Laura reminded me of my feelings when my son went through extreme temper tantrums at a young age. I did not know how to deal with them and felt my own tendency to anger well up in response, but instead of lashing out or ignoring him, I recognized the seeds of rage in him that I knew from my own childhood. Just as Logan has passed on his rage to Laura, my anger had passed on to my son. But unlike Logan, I recognized that I had to help him understand his emotions and work through them in healthy ways. I had to teach him to be aware of the times when emotion had the potential to become rage and quell that rage. Rather than meeting his anger with anger, I had to show him how I’ve learned to diffuse my anger.

Giving into rage and lashing out leaves emotional trauma that may never fade.

Logan’s last act of rage is to sacrifice himself to save what will hopefully become the next generation of mutants. As they all gather around his cairn, Laura recites the last speech from Shane as his eulogy: “A man has to be what he is, can’t break the mould. I tried it and it didn’t work for me There’s no living with a killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her… tell her everything’s all right and there aren’t any more guns in the valley.

Logan couldn’t break the mould, he couldn’t stop himself from being the weapon that he was made into. In the end, he hoped to pass on to his daughter hope by making sure there were “no more guns in the valley,” by ending the major threats to her life. But he knows that others will come and so he tells her, “Don’t be what they made you.” Though he never overcame his rage, maybe Laura would.

I like to think that Laura will break the mold. I, like her, don’t have to be resigned to the person I was nor the person my father was. I don’t have to let my anger rule me. Rather than leave my children with the hope that they might be able to overcome, I can model what it looks like to overcome anger.

Dustin Schellenberg

Dustin Schellenberg

Contributing Writer at Area of Effect
Dustin spends his time exploring the far reaches of space, understand the ancient ways of might and magic, and wandering the post-apocalyptic wastes. If it has a reasonably open world, a crafting system and some way to sneak around, he'll be there. When not gaming, he's probably planning his next D&D character (because his DM keeps killing off the old ones). He is a competent bass player and guitarist, mediocre mid laner and outright awful FPS player. He is father of two, husband of one, a sometimes theologian, and all-times pastor of Crestview Park Free Methodist Church in Winnipeg, MB.
Dustin Schellenberg