[WARNING: Spoilers for Logan are below.]
Riding a wave of strong reviews to dominate the box office in its opening weekend, Logan is well on its way to becoming a massively successful conclusion to Hugh Jackman’s story as Wolverine. Scott Frank’s script, which he co-wrote with director/story writer James Mangold and Michael Green, was one of the main reasons the film was a hit with critics; the story works well as both a final send-off for Jackman as Logan and an origin story for his daughter, Laura Kinney a.k.a. X-23 (Dafne Keen).
Mangold’s story, however, took a shocking turn in the second half with the introduction of X-24, an exact clone of an adult-aged Wolverine with the same powers and acting only on “pure rage.” Transigen’s surprise new project presented an unexpectedly formidable challenge for Jackman as a weathered, weakened Logan and X-23, both of whom had spent much of the film slicing and dicing through the Reavers and others. After a long, bloody series of battles, X-24 ultimately kills Logan near the film’s conclusion.
Speaking in a new interview with THR, Frank talked about the potential he saw for X-24 as a villain, but also elaborates on how he didn’t want the potentially controversial addition to be too big a part of the story:
“It was an interesting thing — for him to be confronted with himself. It reminds him of what he once was. He was not a good guy. But we didn’t want to make a meal out of it. You have to be careful that that doesn’t become the concept through the whole movie, because then it does exactly the opposite of what we were trying to do.”
The shocking arrival of the ruthless X-24 brought back memories of Jackman’s most vicious attacks as the younger Wolverine in earlier X-Men films – while, of course, taking the violence to brutally gory new levels. And when the older Logan staggered into battle with his clone, the tension was real as his death felt more and more imminent. It ultimately made sense that a creation like X-24 would be the only fighter capable of defeating him.
In a film that appeared to be taking plenty of risks and departures from the Old Man Logan source material, Logan’s addition of X-24 turned out to be arguably the biggest gamble of them all. The surprise villain could be hotly debated for years to come, considering that he’s not directly based on a character that actually appeared in the comics and is the one who ultimately takes Logan’s life. Regardless of the reception X-24 receives, though, his role in Logan is really just one part of an incredibly successful final chapter for Jackman as Wolverine.