After spending years in development, HBO’s The Last of Us is finally premiering this weekend. Based on Naughty Dog’s games, the big-budget post-apocalyptic series is shaping up to be the first blockbuster TV title of the year. And if early reviews are to be believed, it will actually live up to fans’ sky-high expectations, too.
It’s worth getting into the right headspace for The Last of Us as we head into the premiere. While playing the games could certainly help with that, there’s one film streaming on Disney+ that not only requires less time to experience, but also covers similar thematic and tonal ground. Any guesses? That’s right: Logan, the Oscar-nominated, James Mangold-directed superhero epic.
Logan is set in a near future that doesn’t look all that different from the present. The film’s vision of the future is rendered in a dystopian sci-fi light by the fact that nearly every mutant on Earth has died, making Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) two of the last survivors. While the rest of society marches on, Logan’s largely Western-inspired, dusty desert aesthetic makes its near-future setting feel even more post-apocalyptic.
Like The Last of Us, Logan follows a grizzled, grief-stricken older man as he agrees to transport a capable young girl across the United States. Throughout their journey, the bond that grows between Logan and his clone/quasi-daughter, Laura (Dafne Keen), becomes surprisingly deep and emotional. Just as Professor X predicts early in the film, Laura’s presence ultimately provides Logan with the hope and closure he needs to die a fulfilled man.
For those familiar with The Last of Us, the similarities between Laura and Logan’s relationship and the one that grows between Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) are unavoidably obvious. In both cases, the central relationships eventually save their lives and souls. Both titles even adopt the same American road movie structure and aesthetic to further punctuate the emotionally moving bonds at the center of them.
Beyond their narrative and structural similarities, Logan and The Last of Us have tonal and visual commonalities. Both titles, for instance, juxtapose their affecting central relationships with violence that is often shocking in its brutality and detail.
While The Last of Us gets to throw some zombie horror into its action sequences, the show’s violence ultimately achieves the same effect as Logan’s. The brutality of their worlds only makes the moments of love in Logan and The Last of Us feel that much more powerful, precious, and fleeting. There simply aren’t many movies that offer as close of an experience to The Last of Us as Logan does.
Much like the upcoming HBO series, Logan tells an effective and subversive genre story that is, at all times, anchored by emotionally authentic and impactful moments of loss, connection, heartbreak, and redemption. The film isn’t just an incredible superhero blockbuster, but also a thoughtful dystopian western, which is what makes it a perfect movie to pair with The Last of Us.
Logan is available to stream now on Disney+.