WARNING: The following article contains SPOILERS for Logan
They say that comic book superheroes are never really gone, not when there is still a fan base and money to be made. But Logan is no ordinary hero… and it’s no ordinary story for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Having acted as the backbone of the X-Men Universe for the past decade and a half, the time has finally come for Wolvie to hang up his claws, may be even pass them off for a new actor to carry a while. And he’s going out on a high note, true to form as always.
It may be less spectacle than usual, less comedic than usual, and less… well, X-Men than usual, but there’s no question Logan is the hero’s best movie yet, and it relies on some of the very best Marvel Comic stories to do it. We’ve put the movie under the microscope to guarantee fans don’t miss a single loving detail, secret nod to the devoted fans, or reference to the larger cinematic tradition director James Mangold is pulling from. Oh, and Deadpool.
Needless to say there will be SPOILERS in our list, so do yourself a favor and give an in-person sendoff as we say goodbye to Logan: Every Wolverine Easter Egg & X-Men Connection.
20. The Deadpool Teaser
There was plenty of rumor-mongering in the final months of Logan‘s post-production surrounding a possible Deadpool cameo, or even a post credits scene suggesting a link to the next dose of the Merc With a Mouth. The tone and premise of Logan made it clear why that never came to pass, but Fox did find a way to give their upcoming mutant juggernaut a bump. It comes in the form of a special teaser, following Wade Wilson as he attempts – and fails – to stop a random mugging.
The teaser itself is filled with Easter Eggs, from a reference to Nathan Summers on the phone booth Deadpool changes in, graffiti connected to characters and creators, and even a set of Firefly posters reminding audiences of the other major mistake made by Fox in undervaluing a cult favorite. Some fans have taken those posters as a hint that star Nathan Fillion could be playing Cable, but for now, only repeat viewings will help nail down the amount of secrets hidden for fans (and the full text of that “Old Man and The Sea” text block concluding the teaser).
19. Meaningful Lyrics
The first trailer for Logan proved that there is absolutely nothing that can’t elicit tears when set to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails. Thematically, it all fit: a song about a life coming to an end in unheroic fashion, sung by a legend who passed not long after it was recorded, set to a modern cinematic icon’s final chapter. But director James Mangold has explained that he hadn’t considered the song until he saw the completed trailer, song included. Which makes this next bit even stranger.
Lauren and Logan never actually compete to see who has the more tragic story – one, a tormented, wild test subject who has lost everything, the other a tortured child born into bondage – but the reason they can be compared is due to the X-23 comic series from Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost. Initially pitched as a five issue miniseries giving her an origin of her own, her path to being Marvel’s current Wolverine started there. And when the trailer dropped, Kyle shared the original pitch document from 2003 on Twitter – complete with an excerpt of “Hurt” to indicate the tone and emotion of their story.
The character played by actor Stephen Merchant isn’t given a name until well into the story, but he’s a key player in a number of X-Men stories – including those centering around the group’s first run-ins with Apocalypse. His name is Caliban, and while the versiion seen in Logan is similar in that he’s inherently good, if mistreated, and able to track mutants, there are some key differences. Starting with the fact that the movie version, like the comics, is an albino… but his aversion to sunlight is more about fearing society’s views of him than the fear of being burned.
Also, Caliban’s ability to track mutants is implied to be an amplification of his sense of smell in the film (also granting him the insight to see that Logan is physically ill). In the original comics, Caliban used his ability to simply sense mutants to track them, using the skill to assemble the underground community known as the Morlocks. A younger version of Caliban also appeared as a mutant recruiter and information broker in X-Men: Apocalypse, but the connection between the two isn’t clear (timelines, and all that).
17. The Adamantium Bullet
We arrive at one of the most emotionally powerful, but logistically problematic bits of X-Men fiction, when Caliban notices that Logan has kept an adamantium bullet in his pocket. He reacts poorly to the discovery and the questions that follow, but most are able to put the pieces together before even Laura does. Knowing that his body is slowly being killed through poisoning from the metal coating his bones, and knowing that same metal makes it almost impossible to kill him, he has held onto the one metal strong enough to break his skull, and kill him… and that’s where the problems start.
The mention of an adamantium bullet will ring a bell with most fans, since it played a significant role in the plot of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, in which the bullet was fired into Logan’s skull, doing enough real damage to his brain to erase his memory of the life before it (why he was so lost in the first X-Men). Unfortunately, the superpower fiction here is so sketchy and contradictory, nobody has even attempted to explain it. For starters, there’s no established reason why even an adamantium bullet would be able to pierce the skull, and not ricochet off. But even if it did… why would it kill him?
If you try to explain by saying perhaps his brain tissue doesn’t heal, then his selection to travel throug ‘time’ in Days of Future Past doesn’t make sense. It’s effectively a literal magic bullet to take out the villain, but… a fun reason to remember Origins, if nothing else.
16. If Swords Could Talk
It’s tricky these days to know exactly how much of the past X-Men and Wolverine movies factor into the future setting of Logan, since it effectively acts as a grim ending to the entire universe. But with director James Mangold picking up on most of the themes and ideas of The Wolverine for this final chapter in Logan’s story, it’s safe to assume that film, at least, is considered a precursor to this one. And there’s another clue that as grim as the present may be, Logan never forgot the more hopeful moments of the past.
In his Mexico home, there isn’t much to remind audiences of the world of the X-Men that used to be. But among the many trinkets found throughout the building is a samurai sword hanging from a wall. Clearly a nod to the one Logan received in The Wolverine, or perhaps the one used by his friend and protege Yukio after her presumed death. Or it could be one of the ones seen in his apartment back in Days of Future Past, visible on the wall next tot a print of Mt. Fuji… the whole ‘ronin’ theme is hard to miss.
15. Donald Pierce
It’s hard to know what to make of the movie’s villain – or even if he is the movie’s villain – when actor Boyd Holbrook slips into Logan’s limousine asking him about a mystery woman. His business card reveals that he works security for a company called Alkali Transigen, and is named Donald Pierce. The name is pulled directly from the comics, but his role is quite different. Originally, Donald Pierce appeared as a top-ranking member of the Hellfire Club of Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw (the villains of X-Men: First Class).
In their first encounter with the X-Men, Donald was shown to have had cybernetic enhancements when Wolverine (and later, Colossus) destroyed his arm to expose the robotics beneath it. The movie pays homage to that moment by showing the replacement limb from the very start. As an extra bit of trivia, Pierce was actually based on actor Donald Sutherland, with his first name directly lifted, and his surname that of Sutherland’s character in M*A*S*H – Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce. We don’t see the resemblance on film.
14. Alkali Transigen
The evil forces working behind the scenes are a case of several comic book groups and storylines being streamlined into one. Fans knew from the beginning that Logan had been forged into the adamantium-covered Wolverine as part of the Weapon X Program – a military experiment to create super soldiers at a facility called Alkali Lake. But the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse offered some new details beyond the Weapon X breakout that the stars of the film witnessed. Yes, it was still run by William Stryker. But when it came to cleaning up the mess of it all, a new player was revealed: Essex Corp.
It was a major moment for Marvel fans, confirming that Nathaniel Essex was pulling the strings behind the operation – or was called in to take the next step. Fans may know him better as ‘Mr. Sinister,’ the villain with ties to all corners of Marvel’s Universe, including the creation of Cable. It’s his men who are collecting Wolverine’s blood (used to create X-23 and X-24), and who ultimately move from the military to private sector with Transigen achieving victory over mutantkind through food designed to suppress mutations in all forms.
13. Greenwood Cemetery
The image of Wolverine leaning against a tree and downing a bottle of alcohol in the rain had many fans speculating about the death of an X-Man or X-Woman. In the end, Logan was only there as a limo driver, but it was still an Easter Egg in hiding. The funeral shown is at Greenwood Cemetery, a fairly famous resting site in the Marvel Universe – even if the movie relocated it pretty drastically. In the comics, the cemetery is located in Brooklyn, New York, not the southwestern U.S. setting of most of Logan.
Still, it’s a serious nod to fans, as the place holds more than a few key members of Marvel’s past. In Deadpool: Too Soon, the funeral is the burial site for Forbush Man. In the Ultimates 2 universe, it’s also the memorial site for Steve Rogers, with a massive statue erected in his image. And in the realm of the Fantastic Four, Susan Richards had the honor of presiding over her own funeral at Greenwood, burying a version of her who had traveled back from the future to complete one last heroic mission before her time was up.
12. “The Statue of Liberty”
Things aren’t going well for Logan when the story begins, but by 2029, things have gotten much, much worse for Charles Xavier. He’s introduced rolling himself around inside his confined living space muttering to himself and seeming mostly oblivious to his old friend. Medication helps keep his mental attacks under control, but after regaining his senses, Charles makes mention of something pressing, including a meet-up at the Statue of Liberty. Logan gives half a smirk as he calms him, telling him that the Statue of Liberty was “a long time ago.”
Some might take it as a claim of just how much as changed in New York City at that point, but it’s – on the surface – a reference to the original film that shouldn’t be missed. The line works for several reasons: reminding the audience just how much time has passed since then, and how long it’s been since Logan experienced a victory with friends at his side. While sending fans speculating just how much has or hasn’t changed between the pre-Days of Future Past timeline and the new one.
11. Wolverine & Drug Abuse
In that same scene, Charles recalls more significant details from the time when Logan was “found” (even though he wasn’t explicitly found, but rather wound up with them thanks to a rogue… Rogue). He mentions Wolverine’s career as a cage fighter in the Canadian wilderness, but also his addiction to drugs – specifically barbiturates. It was never shown in any of the films – although Wolverine does love a good drink – so audiences may not know what to make of it. Especially since Wolverine’s invulnerability to poisons would make substance abuse seem impossible.
But he’s struggled with drug and alcohol abuse in the comics before. And, as oftentimes in life, his teammates and loved ones didn’t know how to deal with it. Most turned a blind eye, and others defended him, claiming he used drugs and alcohol to lighten his mood. Whether it interfered with his ability to lead or make sound decisions was a question eventually raised, but in the film, it’s treated as a means of dulling the adamantium poisoning that’s killing him.
10. Old Man ‘Logan’? Not Quite
If you’re casually interested in the comics books which act as source material for today’s blockbuster movies, then either you have heard Logan is based on the comic character/story Old Man Logan, or someone has made the claim to you. Unfortunately, that is far more misleading than informative. Yes, both stories follow an aging Wolverine in a future where things did not turn out well… but that’s almost where the similarities end. For starters, the future of Old Man Logan is one in which villains beat the heroes, and divided the world up among themselves. Hulkland encompasses most of the American West, Red Skull is the President, and Logan has a wife and two children.
Most of the comparisons are due to, well, the existence of a comic essentially titled “Old Wolverine,” band some playful quotes from Hugh Jackman that were taken literally. It’s a great comic and character created by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, but saying the film is actually based on the story isn’t really highlighting the strengths of either one.
9. The Reavers
Donald Pierce’s mechanical hand is striking at first, but when his soldiers appear alongside him, it’s revealed that cybernetic enhancements are commonplace among the mercenaries of the future. These armed gunmen are the forces of Transigen in the movie, but are officially dubbed Reavers. And that group’s history goes right back to that same meeting between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club. The heroes obviously won the fight, but when the remaining Hellfire Knights (their goons) fled they ran smack into Wolverine. He left them bruised and… in need of some replacement limbs.
The first Reavers were born, and with Donald Pierce recognizing the effectiveness of an army hellbent on revenge and robotic augmentations, his personal army was born. The versions seen in the film aren’t quite as extreme as the comics, and may owe their artificial limbs to the dangers of handling children raised to be killers. But they’re Reavers all the same, with tank tread legs and Terminator limbs replaced with gun-arms and man buns.
The film takes some liberties with the details of Laura Kinney’s origin story, but the basic premise is that of the comics: Wolverine’s DNA is attained and used to create a genetic clone. Well, not a clone, but a genetic twin, since the DNA was duplicated to account for a corrupted Y chromosome. In the film that process is simplified for the sake of being delivered in a single sentence – Wolverine’s DNA was combined with an egg and grown in the womb of a disenfranchised prisoner of Transigen. The result was the same, though, as a girl named Laura with all his superpowers, and the same number of claws… just dispersed differently.
In the comics Laura was actually grown in the womb of the doctor who solved the riddle of her creation, Dr. Sarah Kinney. She produced Laura in secret to begin with, but before long the killing machine was serving her purpose beautifully. Logan places Laura as just one of several test subjects, but in the comics she was a full blown Weapon X successor, with a spotless kill record until she was freed and forced to find a path of her own. All’s well that ends well, though, and Laura is Marvel’s current Wolverine, doing her father/clone/twin proud.
7. Laura Marks Herself
A bulk of Laura’s origin story was only told in the story arc “Innocence Lost,” making up issues #1-5 by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s X-23 series. It was there that the key players were named, and the events which led to Weapon X creating a female Wolverine were explained in detail. Those issues act as a clear influence on the film’s version, delivered in the form of hidden camera video recorded by one of the nurses involved in the Transigen program. The children were kept isolated, and programmed – not loved. And one memorable scene is recreated directly from the comic for fans to catch.
In the video recording, Laura can be seen slicing into her arm with one of her razor-sharp adamantium claws, watching as the cuts open, bleed, and heal almost instantly. The same act is carried out in the comics, with Dr. Kinney not knowing the source of the scars on Laura’s arm to begin with. Only when she sees Laura inflicting them on herself does it hit home how much the program and assassinations are damaging the girl’s emotional and mental health.
6. Dr. Zander Rice
It’s Donald Pierce who spends most of the film pursuing Logan and Laura, but it’s eventually revealed that he is simply a dog at the end of a leash. The man holding the leash is no murderer or monster at all (at least, he doesn’t appear to be one). That man’s name is Dr. Zander Rice, the chief scientist of Alkali and the mastermind behind the entire X-23 Project that produced Laura and her fellow subjects. That’s the same person responsible in the comics, including one personal detail that’s only revealed in the film’s final scenes.
When Logan is close to the end and brought face to face with Rice, it’s established that Zander is following in his father’s footsteps, with that Dr. Rice being instrumental in the creation of Weapon X (the version seen in X-Men: Apocalypse). Movie fans already got to see how messy Logan’s escape was when a young Jean Grey and Scott Summers let him loose, and Zander’s father was among the personnel slaughtered by Logan on his way out, just like the comics.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see Charles lose himself in a Western when briefly taking shelter in a casino hotel room, considering the trio of heroes are in the midst of their own journey across the country. The film in question is Shane (1953) starring Alan Ladd in the title role, and it’s one of the most oft-cited Westerns when it comes to modern films following aging, or reluctant heroes attempting to escape the life they’ve led… only to find it impossible. In other words: no happy endings here.
The closing monologue delivered by Shane sums up idea of Logan’s story as it has so many others, making it a more than fitting eulogy for Laura to deliver over Logan’s grave. Like the masterless warrior that made his time in Japan such a perfect reflection, Wolverine has become the aging gunslinger, trying to find a quiet spot to settle down and forget about the life of violence behind him. The film also centers on a family’s resistance to a larger landowner trying to force them from their property, so director James Mangold is driving home the parallel in plot, too.
4. “I Remember What Happened in Westchester”
Dr. Zander Rice explains that the death of mutants was ensured by Transigen’s spread of a mutant-preventing virus through corn syrup, but the disappearance of the mutants seen in the X-Men films isn’t explicitly stated… is it? The closest we get to an answer comes following the attack that sees Charles Xavier immobilize and almost asphyxiate hundreds of people in their immediate vicinity. News coverage seen soon after reveals that a similar attack took place in Westchester some years earlier, when hundreds were affected, and some were killed, including seven people of particular signifiance – but the TV is turned off before we learn what the seven casualties were members of.
It doesn’t take too much imagination to guess that it was seven of the X-Men proper, since they called the Xavier School in Westchester home. Charles first discusses remembering that attack, and what his deteriorating mental state led to… calling it “unspeakable.” Unfortunately, it isn’t actually Logan he’s explaining it to, but it seems a different take on the reason behind the X-Men’s absence in Old Man Logan. In that comic, Wolverine was made to hallucinate an attack on the school by villains, only realizing he had murdered the students and faculty once the last body dropped.
The biggest twist of the film comes just seconds after Charles speaks about the Westchester incident, when it’s revealed that the same research which produced Laura and her peers has since produced a perfect clone of Wolverine – dubbed X-24. An evil clone of Wolverine seems almost too good an idea for the comics not to have done it already, but believe it or not, X-24 is a creation of the film… sort of. There was something referred to as X-24 in the comics, but it was definitely not a full grown, full powered Wolverine.
The only mention of an X-24 in Marvel’s universe was shortly before Laura’s escape from imprisonment. When Zander Rice – even more vindictive and cruel in the comic version – had taken over control of the program by having his former bosses murdered, he let Dr. Kinney know that Laura would only be the beginning. As she had nurtured and cared for X-23, he had moved into full production on more clones, with embryos already growing to become X-24 to X-50. Laura destroyed them all, and the project’s staff and facility along with them, which makes the film’s version infinitely more entertaining.
2. “Ice Cream For Bedwetters”
It turns out Logan isn’t a fan of comic books in the world of Logan (not that hard to believe), and is less than enthused when he discovers Laura reading old copies of The Uncanny X-Men. Charles encourages the idea, clearly fond of the impact his beloved X-Men had on popular culture, but as one of the people whose lives were fictionalized for others; enjoyment, Logan refers to them only as “ice cream for bedwetters.” He’s clearly not aware of the effort that goes into them… or those two issues in particular.
Surprisingly, they aren’t actual copies of X-Men, but versions made specifically for the movie. The artwork comes courtesy of Chief Creative Officer or Marvel Entertainment, and editor, writer, and artist Joe Quesada. Once the art was finished, artist Dan Panosian applied the inks and color to make them feel true to the 1990s era of their fictional publication. The covers are changed, but the numbering still points to two cool connections. In Issue #117, Charles believes his X-Men dead, and wonders if the world would have been better if mutants remained a secret. And in Issue #132, Wolverine first faces off against Donald Pierce.
1. Mutants of Yesterday (& Tomorrow)
The collection of young mutants grown from existing DNA make rewatches downright mandatory, since no single viewing can scan every bit of Transigen footage. In fact, take a closer look and fans might be able to see which mutants from the movies were used as the framework for these new mutants. There’s the pyromancer reminding fans of ‘Pyro’ in X2, and even one wielding cold breath (a nod to Iceman himself?). One name that can be made out in the files Logan reads through concerning the children notes that the original mutant tissue belonged to Christopher Bradley, a.k.a. Bolt (played by Dominic Monaghan in X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
The clearest nod to the comics likely comes in Laura’s friend, the de factor leader of the children, named ‘Rictor.’ It’s a reference to Julio Esteban Richter, the mutant known as “Ric” for short, and so named for his ability to generate earthquakes at will. He was one of the original New Mutants and an original member of X-Force. We can’t say fans will get to see that career on film, considering the world those mutants are escaping into, but… we can always hope.