I don’t get to see many movies anymore, but this past March, I got an unusual opportunity to see two movies in two weeks. Can you guess which movies?
Yeah, I know. The pictures gave it away. Beauty and the Beast and Logan blew up movie screens across the world in March, and everyone is still talking about them. But as I started dissecting both movies, two characters stood out to me as being really similar–Gaston and Logan.
They have many of the same qualities, but it’s their hearts that are opposite. And in a culture that often reviles manly men, I think it’s important to discern how a man can be both manly and moral. This comparison isn’t so much to examine how Logan and Gaston are similar. They are shockingly alike. Instead, I’m more interested in what makes them different and why.
In case you don’t know either of these gents, let’s do a bit of background.
Gaston is the hometown hero of Villeneuve, the provincial little French town where Belle and her father live. He’s a hunter, a war hero, and the talk of the village, but he’s also a bully who uses intimidation and threats to get what he wants.
In the latest remake of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston is played brilliantly by the amazing Luke Evans. Seriously, this man needs an Oscar.
Logan, also known as Wolverine, has been around since November 1974. A member of the X-Men, the mutant super heroes who save the world, he has super-fast healing abilities, extra-sensitive tracking skills, and bone claws that extend from his knuckles. A secret military program bonded indestructible metal adamantium to his skeleton, which resulted in turning his bone claws into metal ones. In short, he’s one of the most dangerous men alive.
Since 2000, Logan/Wolverine has been played by Hugh Jackman. And not just in one movie. He’s played this character in nine full-length movies as a main character or in a cameo role . Pretty amazing for a guy they found singing and dancing on stage, right? Ironically, he has played Gaston before too.
And because it’s funny, here’s Luke Evans and Hugh Jackman having a Gaston-off:
How they’re the same
They are both what culture would call Manly Men.
Gaston and Logan are both ripped. Let’s just be honest. These guys are rough, tough fighters who’d sooner punch you in the face than give you a hug.
They both use aggression instead of communication.
A normal person communicates using words, but for both Gaston and Logan, words are too much work. They would find glaring easier. Or maybe pounding on a table. Or maybe kicking a chair across a room. Why use words when they could break something?
They both use intimidation to get what they want.
When either of these two gents want something, the only reason they’ll stoop to phrasing their desires in a sentence is to threaten people. Threats and snarling and general churlishness is the rule of the day when you have something they want.
They both are stubborn and demand their own way.
No matter how hurt they are, no matter how defeated they may feel, these two guys won’t give up. Whether it’s full-on charging a “monstrous beast” with nothing but a club or stabbing himself through his own heart to escape his bonds, these guys stop at nothing.
They both feel (just for different reasons).
Both Gaston and Logan have feelings. Gaston (especially in the new movie) demonstrates some real concern for Belle at certain points. And deep down inside, Logan has a gentle spirit. Where they differ is their motivation.
How they’re different
Gaston is selfish; Logan is selfless.
Gaston has a specific list of desires that he’s pretty blatant about, and high on that list is Belle as his wife. Not because he loves her, but because she’s the most beautiful girl in the village. And he’s willing to do whatever is necessary to make that dream a reality, even if it means hurting others, including Belle.
Logan, on the other hand, has given up anything he wants for himself. Maybe when he was younger, he fought for his own happiness, but somewhere along the line, he decided that trying to help others was better than helping himself.
Gaston is a bully; Logan is a protector.
Gaston uses his size and strength to force others to do what he wants. His relationship with LeFou is probably the best example of this. He bosses LeFou around, pushes him and threatens him.
Logan is capable of immense destruction, but instead he has chosen to use his strength to keep others safe. The new movie Logan beautifully represents this by how Logan takes care of the aging, infirm Professor Xavier, carrying him from place to place and making sure he takes his medication.
Gaston needs popularity; Logan needs forgiveness.
Gaston deeply cares what people think about him. That’s one of the reasons why he wants Belle as a wife, because of popular opinion and how the village will see him if he succeeds.
But Logan? Logan has never needed popularity. He’s a mutant. He’s hated and feared everywhere he goes, and he hasn’t done himself any favors either. But somewhere along the way, he recognized a soul-deep need for redemption. Maybe it was all the blood he shed or all the lives he ended, somewhere in there he grasped the idea that he needed forgiveness, which has drawn him to live in such a way that he deserves it.
Gaston wants to live; Logan wants to die.
In the end, Gaston’s thirst for possessions and popularity boils down to a desperate need to experience life. His problem is that he places value on the wrong things.
Logan wants nothing else but death. What made his life worth living was the people he loved, and when all of them are gone, he loses his will to live. At least, until he learns to love someone else.
Our culture really seems to degrade the idea of being masculine, so I think it’s an important distinction to make that being manly doesn’t mean you have to be a bully. Logan’s morality, his goodness, stems from a heart that seeks to protect other people, to love people other than himself, and to do the right thing.
That’s the line our culture needs to draw here. You can be manly without pushing people around. Instead, use your strength to protect those weaker than you, to stand up for what is right, and to do what is right for the people you love. That’s how you make a real difference, and that’s how you find a life worth living.