Semiotic Analysis of LOGAN (2017) Movie Poster

I’m going to start by saying that this particularly blog post is not directly related to video game development, unlike the rest of the blog posts on my page, but I decided to place it here because I personally believe being able to analyze different forms of media is important for a game developer and will ideally lead to creating games with deeper messages.

BE WARNED: Although I will try to avoid direct spoilers from the movie, some of the symbols I talk about may or may not hint at things which could be considered major spoilers for those not familiar with some of the story lines in the Wolverine comics. I will also be referring parts of some of the trailers.

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This is a poster for the 2017 movie, LOGAN, set to be the end of the Logan “Wolverine” Howlette 10 film long cinematic universe that Fox has been working on since “X-Men” in 2000, based off of the Marvel comic stories of various names involving the X-men and Wolverine. Without talking too much about 1) The various Wolverine comics, as this is set in its own universe and should be treated as such, however I may refer to previous movies in the X-Men cinematic universe, and 2) The plot of Logan (not including scenes from the trailer), as this is supposed to be what makes people go see the movie and not vice versa and I would like to avoid spoiling the movie for people reading this. In this blog post, I am going to use Semiotic analysis to make some of the symbolism of this movie poster more apparent and show the amount of meaning in such an empty poster.

Firstly, the sunset. The use of the ‘sunset’ is particularly brilliant for this film. For starters, a sunset often symbolizes “the end of a journey“. This is naturally perfect for a movie set to be the last chapter in a specific characters long and tragic story, but it gets better. It may not be a sunset at all. Given that one of the trailers presented a small child with adamantium claws, previously only ever seen on Wolverine himself, as being a main character and a key part of the story, this “sunset” could potentially be a sunrise which in contrast represents the start of a journey. Looking closely, it seems like the sun is cut exactly in half by the horizon. This is likely intentional so that it could represent the end of one persons journey, but the start of someone else’s.

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Adding on to this, generally the hero walks towards the horizon. This usually represents the end of an adventure or a story. The fact that Logan is walking away from the sunset could also represent the fact that his adventure was over, but now for whatever reason he is staring another adventure. Assuming this is a sunrise, for which the movie trope of riding off into the sunrise represents a fresh start on life, this would mean that Wolverine is walking away from his chance at a fresh start on life, something that the character of Wolverine has always tried to achieve, only to have it taken from him when he gets close. For example, his wife’s death in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) which made him quit his peaceful life as a lumberjack and seek revenge on those responsible.

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//A suit usually represents some level of sophistication

Another very obvious thing about the poster is how empty it is. Other than Logan, some clouds, the release date, the companies involved in the production/release and half a sun, there is literally nothing. An open/empty field, according to author Craig Hamilton-Parker, represents a desire to be free. Wolverine is a character that has always been running from his violent (understatement) past, desperately trying to escape it. Even at the end of his journey, in a world that hates mutants, its likely that hes still running. The fact that Wolverine is wearing a suit implies he got pretty close. The fact that Wolverine has his claws out implies he wasn’t close enough.

Adding to the emptiness, this man is alone. With the inclusion of “nameless small child” and Charles Xavier and the seemingly large amount of bad guys seen in the trailers, it stands to reason that it would have been easy to included other characters in the poster. The fact that Wolverine stands alone means that despite all of the other conflict involved, Logan is on his own journey.

wolverine-quote

Finally, Logan himself is cast in shadow with the sunlight creating an almost aura like shine around the character. This paints the character as a character with a dark, dangerous and mysterious past, and probably not a very nice, or good, person. The light aura paints the character as a hero showing up in a time of need, a last hope for someone in desperate need of help. Collectively, this perfectly shows the character of Wolverine. Notorious for being a terrible friend and a straight up a**hole, Wolverine is not a good person. When approached by Professor X in X-Men: First Class (2011) who is trying to recruit mutants, Logan told him to “Fuck off” before Xavier even finished his sentence. Obviously, he ends up joining the X-Men which is ultimately a force of good created to help people and other mutants, putting him somewhere in the shade of grey between good and bad.

(Who is Wolverine, as told by those who know him best)

In conclusion, it’s incredible that such an empty poster can tell such a complex story about a single person. Just by looking at this, its reasonable to assume the story will be the end of a journey, possibly the start of another, of a complex man with a dark past and good intentions who operates somewhere in the shade of grey between good and bad and has lived a life of solitude in an attempt to free himself from his past. All of that from a poster of a guy walking away from the sun in an open field.

Wolverine thumbs up

References

Websites

https://www.reference.com/world-view/sunset-symbolize-e922ead913f467e7

http://www.dreamsleep.net/meaning-of-fields-dream.html

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RidingIntoTheSunset

 

Movies

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

X-Men: First Class (2011)

LOGAN (2017)

Finding a Path

This week in uni we talked a bit about path finding, mostly A*, and were given  the task to update our bots from the tournament to be able to navigate a maze while still performing the functionality necessary to defeat the other bots. Deciding to cut my losses with the bot and try something else, I decided to create a path finding script using C# in Unity.

 

To this, I would start by creating a small, maze like, map with invisible nodes all over it. Then using a cube as the “player character”, create a script with a public array of game objects for the invisible “nodes” that would be iterated over comparing the distance from each node to the player and then from those closest nodes check which one is the closest to the target position.

 

Before even starting, I’m pretty sure I’m over simplifying it. With this current method, the script doesn’t have any idea where the walls are, or how to react if a wall is in the way. More research will have to be done before I am able to complete this project, so that I am able to learn how to sever a connection between two nodes, so that the player will never be able to attempt to travel through walls.

The Bot Tournament – Post Mortem

As mentioned in my previous blog, my intention going in was to make a bot that focused heavily on bullet dodging, with stat allocation weighted into movement speed.

In theory the faster I moved, the harder it would be for people to hit me and the easier it would be to dodge bullets.

As is the case with most project work, my ideas changed as I went on. With the time frame I had and the other commitments I have made, I had to simplify what I wanted. I threw out the idea of bullet dodging in the hopes that my movement speed would be enough to avoid most hits. Unfortunately this was not the case.

 

Movement was done by having the bot select a random spot somewhere on the map, moving to that spot and selecting another spot. Aiming was done by searching around the bot until a target was seen, shooting and then checking the same spot. If the enemy bot was not in the same spot, it would go back to scanning around the bot. Unfortunately, as the bot was shooting dead ahead every time, the accuracy was poor.

 

My bot, Russell Crowe, came 8th out of 12, which is okay but definitely not as high as I would have liked.

 

The biggest issue I had was with time management, I had committed to too much before uni had started and unfortunately somethings overlapped so that when uni came around I didnt have enough time to do as much uni work as I would have liked.