Fans of X-Men who saw the latest two movies — Logan and last summer’s X-Men: Apocalypse — probably noticed something kinda weird about one recurring character. Despite offering no continuity or explanation as to why it happened this way, the mutant Caliban showed up in both, in Logan played by Stephen Merchant, and in Apocalypse by Thomas Lemarquis. Despite a bit of an accent on Lemarquis’ part, they both looked mostly the same: albino, weird eyes, bald. There was just a weird lack of continuity, and James Mangold recently explained why.
When you learn about writing, there’s one mantra that you’ll hear over and over: Kill your darlings. Sometimes, the only way to make a scene in a book or a paragraph in an article work best is to take out the part of it you love the most, just because hanging onto it isn’t worth the clunkiness it creates. The same is true for film, and oftentimes directors will have to take out really great scenes because they don’t work with the flow of the rest of the movie. Logan is pretty seamlessly put together, but even James Mangold ran into that problem once or twice. He revealed that there was a tribute to Wolverine’s fellow X-Man Jean Grey in the middle of the movie that he had to cut for story reasons. [Some SPOILERS follow for Logan, so if you haven’t seen it yet, run far away.
Logan is the conclusion Hugh-Jackman-as-Wolverine’s story deserves, and it’s one that fans of the character have been waiting for for quite a while. The other two solo Wolverine movies weren’t exactly well-received, although one could make an argument for the quality of 2013’s The Wolverine — you know, the one where he goes to Japan. As it turns out, the emotional, heartwrenching ending of Logan had been planned out ever since one key scene in The Wolverine. [The rest of this post contains SPOILERS for Logan — as in, I am going to tell you the ending. So if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know, do not keep reading.]
Logan is, first and foremost, a Wolverine movie. It’s also a western, a poignant character study, a story of a man reconciling with the inevitable, and a really great farewell for Hugh Jackman — and also maybe Patrick Stewart’s Professor X. Like the titular hero, Charles Xavier is quite different when we meet him again in Logan, haunted by a mysterious incident that is never fully explained, much to the film’s benefit. Director James Mangold would agree, as he’s revealed that the original script didn’t just allude to the incident, it actually showed it, which would have made for a much different film.
My recent list of the most dated parts of the original X-Men movie included things like Hugh Jackman’s comparatively non-huge, non-jacked-man physique, Wolverine’s non-stop smoking, and the heroes’ black leather costumes. The list also included the relative lack of Easter eggs; even with about ten major roles in the film, the first X-Men movie is, at least by contemporary standards, a small movie. There’s no sense of a wider Marvel Universe beyond the edges of the frame, there’re few appearances by (or references to) other mutants, and there’s no post-credits scene to tease future films. It is a movie unto itself.
You probably know that Logan is based on the Marvel Comics series “Old Man Logan” by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven. But did you know that Logan really came together when Hugh Jackman woke up in the middle of the night after a long conversation (and a few drinks) about Wolverine with Chappie director Neill Blomkamp? Jackman recorded a voice memo on his phone of what he wanted the movie to look like and eventually that became Logan. That’s just one of the facts featured in the newest episode of You Think You Know Movies!
When the first teaser images for Logan landed online last fall, there was something particularly intriguing about them — aside from the fact that this is Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine, of course. The photos were mostly in black and white, leading some to suspect that maybe the film itself was black and white. That suspicion was laid to rest with the arrival of the first teaser, but it might not have been entirely off.
After Logan’s runtime was increased by a whole three minutes from the version that screened for critics, we all hopped on the post-credits scene speculation. Would it tease Deadpool 2? Would it further wrap up Wolverine’s story? Would it hint at the next Wolverine-less X-Men movie? Better hold your horses, because James Mangold himself has now said that Logan has no post-credits scene after all.
The first X-Men movie opened on July 14, 2000. A child born early that year would have just turned 17 by the time the tenth entry in the X-Men series, Logan, hits theaters next month. That is fortunate – viewers are going to need a driver’s license to get into this movie, which possesses the hardest R rating of any American superhero movie in history. In the past, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine would swing his razor-sharp adamantium claws and bad guys would simply fall to the ground. There was never any visible evidence of his brutality. There’s more graphic violence in Logan’s first scene – severed limbs, gruesome disembowlings – than in all of the other of the Wolverine and X-Men movies combined.
Early on, you might’ve expected Hugh Jackman’s final bow as Wolverine to go out with a bang, like a giant farewell party where all his old and new friends are there to wave him off into the sunset. But that wouldn’t be quite fitting for a loner like Logan (and it sounds more like an X-Men movie), whose upcoming sequel really emphasizes the “solo” in solo outing — so don’t go in expecting to see a bunch of cameos from other mutants in the X-universe.