Advancing Narratives with Dumb Decisions (Please Don't)

I watched Logan last week. 

Growing up, Wolverine was one of my favorite characters. Having spent the early days of my childhood watching sanitized, saccharine stuff like Super Friends, the idea of a superhero slicing through throngs of bad guys in a berserker rage whilst simultaneously healing the worst damage they could dish out was refreshing. Perfect for an adolescent boy with rages of his own. One who'd just discovered grunge, even.

But this post isn't a love letter to Canadian mass murderers, or a paean to the days I spent reading comics in my room beneath a Frazetta-esque poster of Logan* perched atop a pile of dead bad guys. This is about how Logan, which is in most respects a very good movie, leverages some idiotic decisions to advance the narrative.

To wit:

When Donald Pierce confronts Wolverine at the farm where he's hiding Professor X, he is knocked unconscious by X-23. Wolverine, who in the opening sequence has no compunction whatsoever about sticking his claws directly through a cholo's head, decides to take mercy on Pierce. Instead of killing him, he enlists Caliban, whose primary mutation appears to be the power to act like a slightly less useful C-3PO, to leave Pierce in the desert. Pierce is a man who's tracked down Wolverine twice at this point in the movie, I might add.

But if Wolverine slices off Pierce's head this early in the movie, who's going to chase Wolvie, Professor X and Eleven I mean Laura across the country?

I dunno, Dr. Rice and the rest of the Reavers? Reprogrammed Sentinels? X-24 (who would have actually been cooler as the cybernetic Wolverine clone Albert that used to pal around with Elsie Dee)? That's one option.

Another option would have been to have a more expendable Reaver show up at the ranch as an advance scout. Like maybe the guy from The Ultimate Fighter who Laura decapitates a few scenes later?

ANOTHER option would have been for the Reavers to descend on the ranch en masse before adamantium claw meets cyborg skull. 

But nah. Let's knock Donald Pierce unconscious and send the guy who doesn't have claws, a healing factor, or the ability to take his shirt off at the beach to leave him in the middle of the desert like we're fratboys playing a prank on the pledges.    

I won't get into some of the lazier narrative devices used (hey look, it's a character who's mute by choice! hey look, vampire C-3PO is also vampire Cerebro!** hey, let's put handcuffs on the kid who shoots solar energy out of his hands), and some of the other criticisms leveled at the film are actually baseless (for example, why aren't they shooting adamantium bullets at Wolverine when adamantium bullets are a thing that exist? Because adamantium is rare AF). Because Logan is generally a pretty great movie otherwise, it makes the dumb decisions by both good guys and bad guys all the more glaring.

This kind of thing has been lampooned in the context of horror flicks about a billion times. Don't take the easy way out in your writing. If your protags have your antag incapacitated, FINISH HIM! You should listen to your friend Scorpion, he's a smart dude. Or have your antag turn the tables. Whatever you do, don't have your protags uncharacteristically show mercy when you've established in the opening freaking scene that they're merciless.

If your character has no problem killing random gangbangers who try to steal his hubcaps, he'd shouldn't have a problem killing that dude from Narcos. 

*Which was a promotional poster for his late '80s ongoing series. When it came out, the world thought the X-Men were dead for some reason and the first few issues had him running around Madripoor as "Patch," the worst secret identity this side of Clark Kent.

** Yes, I know what Caliban's power is. That doesn't mean it's not lazy writing.