The jumping-off point for the final Hugh Jackman Wolverine movie, Logan, was a self-contained story found in the pages of Wolverine in 2008 and 2009 called “Old Man Logan”. It details an incident in the life of an alternate reality Logan who’d become a pacifist in the wake of tragedy, and the villains of the world having finally “won.” It is often referred to, including by the writer, as Marvel’s answer to The Dark Knight Returns.
As it turns out, there are very few things in common between the comic and the movie. That is both good and bad. It is good because we are treated to two very unique and enjoyable artistic visions. It is bad because we well may never see as bonkers a story as the Old Man Logan books on-screen. We highly recommend watching the film and reading the books, although neither is at all dependent on the other. We will highlight some of the biggest differences between the comics and the movie. Be forewarned that this will be spoiler-heavy for both of them! Here are the 15 Biggest Difference Between Old Man Logan and The Movie.
15. Terrible Lizards
If you saw the movie but have not read the comic, you are probably scratching your heads at this one. The comic, although every bit as gritty as the movie (perhaps even more so), is also far less grounded in reality. The movie’s future (it takes place in 2029) is a grim but not broken extension of the world as it would be with mutants in it… and things are not all that different from how they are now. The comic is post-apocalyptic in nature, and builds a world fraught with the implications of a world full of heroes and villains gone sour for generations.
Logan, on his trip from Sacramento (where his family farm is) to the capital of New Babylon (where Washington, D.C. had been), runs across herds of dinosaurs. He finds out that it had been popular to import them from the Savage Land as pets, but that they were abandoned and roamed wild when they got too big– not unlike the exotic pets problem nowadays. As Logan is driving through herds of dinos, he gets chased by a carnivorous dinosaur that has bonded with none other than the Venom symbiote… creating a dinosaur with all the powers and persistence of Venom. While it was a “Hell Yeah” moment in the book, it’s safe to say it would have seemed just a tad out of place in Logan.
14. The Professor is in
The world of “Old Man Logan” truly is a world without heroes. As will be explained later, we come across only five characters that had been heroes (or mostly heroes) in the regular Marvel 616 universe. This means every other hero has fallen or is totally a non-factor. Given the age of the heroes that are left, even if Professor X had survived the death of virtually every hero, he would not still be alive in the book due to old age.
Such is not the case for Logan. Patrick Stewart’s iconic Charles Xavier portrayal comes to a bitter and touching end in the film. He is being safeguarded by Logan and is suffering from dementia, as he is now in his 90s. As Doctor Zander Rice lays out for us in the movie, it is a truly dangerous thing for a degenerative brain disease to be happening to one of the world’s most dangerous telepaths. To save Xavier and others from unintentional bursts of his power, Logan keeps Professor X heavily medicated.
13. Donald Pierce and the Reavers
“Old Man Logan” follows Logan as he travels through a broken America from the West coast to the East in order to make money as a courier to pay off the Hulk Gang before they kill his family for non-payment of rent. As such, he is not being chased (well, not consistently chased)– and it allows for a number of threats to pop up based on where he is and who and what he comes across.
The plot of Logan revolves around Logan attempting to deliver young mutant Laura to a mutant sanctuary called Eden and protect Professor X at the same time. Hot on his heels is Donald Pierce, a cyborg with a Southern drawl and a sweet neck tattoo, and his team of cyborg mercenaries called the Reavers. Both Pierce and the Reavers come from the pages of Uncanny X-Men, but are nowhere to be found in the “Old Man Logan” storyline. As a side note, the Reavers in the comics are far more varied and interesting looking (including Bonebreaker, whose legs have been replaced by weapon-outfitted tank treads, but looked like just another soldier in the movie).
12. Labors of love
In both the film and the comics, Logan has hung up his claws and costume for a simpler, more traditional living. That we are given a glimpse into the mundanity of Logan’s life outside of protecting the world from super villains is terribly important in both instances– it gives us an idea of ‘what could have been’ and shows just how disconnected he is from his past life.
In the comic, he is a farmer in central California. He and his family (a wife, a son, and a daughter) tend to the land in a territory called “Hulkland”, which encompasses the West Coast. In the movie, Logan is a chauffeur in what appears to be a private limo, and he is seen shuttling business clients and partiers between El Paso, Texas and Mexico. The farming and family life seems to be more indicative of a peaceful and pastoral existence that lines up more with Logan’s vow of pacifism. The Logan of the movie is no longer adventuring, but seems to have no qualms about resorting to his claws and violence (as we very, very quickly find out).
11. The reason for the season
We’re not against the idea of just watching Logan’s mundane daily life and how he responds to everyday events. In fact, what little we see of that in both the comic and the film is quite entertaining– knowing that a famously-tempered mutant with indestructible retractable blades in his knuckles is grinning and bearing it in the face of something we’d ordinarily see him fight his way out of being a fascinating study in restraint and maturity. But there is a reason that we drop in on Logan when and where we do; a reason for the adventure that changes the rest of Logan’s life. And despite the comic being the main influence on the movie, the plots are 100% different.
In the comic, Logan must come up with money he does not have in order to pay the Hulk Gang that owns his land in order to save his family. To get the money, he agrees to navigate and accompany an old and disgraced (and blind) Hawkeye on a trip cross-country… presumably to smuggle drugs. In the movie, Logan is approached by a woman who offers to pay him $50,000 to take a young girl named Laura to a mutant refuge in North Dakota (where she will then get to Canada). The reason Logan needs the money is to buy a boat so that he can go out to sea with Charles Xavier and Caliban, the albino mutant that also helps care for Xavier.
10. Popping the claws
A very crucial difference between the film and the comic is Logan’s attitude towards violence. In the comic, Logan is insistent that “Wolverine is dead”. Having been traumatized utterly and completely by an event when the villains took over, Logan waited for a freight train with his head resting on the tracks. After he healed from getting run over, he swore to never fight back and to never unsheathe his claws.
The Logan of the movie has no such problem with violence. While there was a similarly traumatizing event in his past, Logan seems to have instead of turning to pacifism turned to the bottle. Drunk and suffering from a vague illness, Logan is an ineffective fighter but still does fight. It only takes a couple moments in the movie for him to take on a gang of car-stripping criminals in a very sloppy and violent manner. The juxtaposition of the two paths is an interesting one, but both make more sense respectively to their own stories– and each would seem very out of place in the others’ world.
In the movie, Logan escorts a young mutant girl to North Dakota. She is technically property of an unscrupulous company called Transigen, and it is for Transigen that Donald Pierce is working to recover young Laura. It would be hard, though, to characterize this as kidnapping despite the technicality.
In the comic, Logan returns from his trip across the country with his money in hand. Although he is back with weeks to spare for the deadline to have his money, he comes home to find that the Hulk Gang has already murdered his wife and children. Presumably they “got bored”. Although he is encouraged to turn the other cheek and not seek revenge by a concerned neighbor, this event causes Logan to renege his promise to never again resort to violence. He proclaims that he is in fact Wolverine and that his name is not Logan, and he sets about ruthlessly killing the entire Hulk Gang, save one baby Hulk named Bruce Banner Jr. After the wholesale slaughter, Wolverine loads up baby Bruce and aims to raise him to be a member of a new superhero team. He sees this act as a fitting irony, and some small measure of justice for his family having been taken from him.
8. Four Quarters
The America of the movie Logan seems to have not changed geographically from the way that we know it. There is no geography lesson in the film, and we are not treated to a map, but several locations are made mention throughout. Logan shuttles people back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Mexico (where he is hiding Professor X and Caliban to avoid the U.S. Government). When Logan agrees to take Laura to the mutant refuge called Eden, they pass through Oklahoma to North Dakota.
The comic takes place after a coordinated supervillain attack that sees the downfall of the United States (and it is alluded to that the rest of the world is uninhabitable). Following the victory, the Red Skull (who is responsible for coordinating the villains’ efforts) “carves” up the country into territories for the lieutenant villains. Thus, the Abomination gets the West Coast (which later becomes Hulkland), Doctor Doom assumes control of the Bible Belt and it is referred to as Doom’s Lair in the provided map, the Domain of Magneto stretches from Idaho down to Arizona (and later becomes The Kingdom of The Kingpin), and the Red Skull assumes the East Coast and calls it The President’s Quarter (and the Skull is the President). There are two sections of land that are not named and presumably under nobody’s control: a swath of the Midwest and the Rust Belt starting at Michigan, and all of the plains states and Texas and Louisiana.
7. Baby Logans
In keeping with the total shift in lifestyle for Logan in the comic book, he had settled down with a wife and had kids. His wife, Maureen, is of course a redhead in keeping with his well-known affection for gingers. Their youngest is their daughter, Jade. Their eldest is a son that Logan named Scotty. It is extremely interesting that Logan would name his son Scotty, since there is no way it was not coincidental the boy shared the name with Logan’s frienemy/romantic rival/longtime teammate Scott Summers (aka Cyclops). It symbolizes a deep grieving for Logan’s comrades, and an immense level of respect for the man Logan always referred to as Slim.
In the movie, it is revealed that young Laura is in fact Logan’s daughter. His genetic material (presumably baby-making material) was used by Transigen to sire a child inside a Mexican woman for the purpose of birthing the girl inside the company’s premises. Logan’s adoptive family is the ailing and aged Charles Xavier and fellow caretaker Caliban.
6. Big, bad, and green
The movie, as with all of Fox’s Marvel movies, is limited in its scope of what characters it can draw on from the Marvel universe. Several existing Marvel characters have made their way into the Wolverine films, and Logan is no exception. In addition to Donald Pierce, the Reavers, Professor X, Caliban, and X-23, the young mutants that Laura convenes with in North Dakota are led by a young Rictor (famously of the New Mutants and the original X-Force). Logan, though, may have made itself far closer to the source material had they been able to use the main villain from the comic, The Hulk.
In the comic, The Hulk has taken over the West Coast from the Abomination. It is revealed that he had several children by his own first cousin, the She-Hulk. The Hulk Gang (the large inbred Banner clan) are responsible for the murder of Logan’s family, at none other than Bruce Banner’s urging. Banner, old but still incredibly powerful, ordered the murder of Logan’s family in order to incite a fight between the two of them out of boredom.
5. Little Laura
What do Harley Quinn and Laura from Logan have in common? Both of those characters originated in a television series (Harley Quinn got her start in Batman: The Animated Series) before becoming popular enough to get incorporated into mainstream comic continuity. Laura, who is now officially the new Wolverine in Marvel comics following the death of Logan, was also known as X-23. In Marvel comics, she is a clone of Logan’s (the codename X-23 refers to the amount of failed attempts at cloning Logan before the success of Laura). She has been a member of several teams, and is most recently a member of the X-Men. Although she existed in comics before the “Old Man Logan” storyline, she does not appear at all in the books.
As we said earlier, in the movie Laura is the biological daughter of Logan. As in the books, she has two claws on her hands instead of Logan’s three– and she also has a claw that comes out of each foot (and there is an awkward and nonsensical explanation of this given by Charles Xavier that has something to do with female lions). An interesting change to the mythology is that all the Transigen children are given an X-23 designation; implying that the codename has nothing to do with the number of failed attempts. The surprise villain of the movie is designated as X-24, so perhaps it is a generational designation for the program and not for the specific mutant.
4. Viva Las Vegas
One of the more interesting points of interest in the “Old Man Logan” story is the city of Las Vegas. It is revealed in the book that this was the site of the superheroes’ last stand. In the comic, Logan and Hawkeye pass through the city, looking to use it as a pit stop along the way. Las Vegas has become something of a mecca for disenfranchised people praying for the return or second coming of heroes to deliver them from evil. Hero memorabilia is sold everywhere, much in the way that religious artifacts are sold in holy pilgrimage cities. The fallen hammer of Thor, Mjolnir, rests in the dirt and it is shown that large groups of people pray to it for salvation. Las Vegas is in the Kingdom of the Kingpin and based on a conversation between the Red Skull and a dying Captain America, it is revealed that Magneto (who controlled that portion of the country before being overthrown) had a vested interest in controlling Vegas in particular.
While Las Vegas does not appear in the movie, it is perhaps a nod to the comic that a pivotal scene of the movie takes place at a Harrah’s casino outside of Las Vegas (for those of you not in the know, there are seventeen different Harrah’s throughout the United States).
3. The big takeover
The reason America is in shambles in “Old Man Logan” stems from the coordinated efforts of several supervillains. It is not revealed completely who was involved, but it was implied that it was all or nearly all supervillains that organized in order to defeat all the heroes and take over the United States (and presumably laying waste to the rest of the world). The ringleader was the Red Skull. His lieutenants were the Abomination, Magneto, and Doctor Doom. The only other confirmed villains involved were Mysterio (who we will discuss in the next entry) and Loki, whose skeleton (giant skeleton, to be precise) lays under the collapsed rubble of the Baxter Building (home base of the Fantastic Four).
The comic also goes on to show a number of other supervillains, including Stryfe, Doctor Octopus, Mister Hyde, and Bullseye. Their actual level of participation, however, is up for debate.
There is no discussed takeover of the country by villains in Logan. It appears as though the United States is roughly business-as-usual in the film. There is, however, confirmation that no mutants had been born naturally in over 20 years at the time the movie takes place. Also, Transigen appears to wield an abnormal amount of power… and it is implied that Caliban had previously helped to hunt down (his power is to track and identify mutants) and eradicate mutants.
2. The death of Xavier’s dream
In the comic books, the event that caused Logan to forswear violence, was an especially horrific one. As the attack of the villains commences, Logan is monitoring the worldwide activity with Jubilee at the X-Mansion. Wolverine then encounters a bevy of supervillains. It is explained to him by “Stryfe” that the idea is that all villains were sent in teams devised especially to deal with specific heroes, regardless of their typical grudges and traditional enemies. Wolverine tears through dozens of villains, allowing the children of Xavier’s school to escape. As Bullseye lays dying, the illusion is shattered, and it turns out that Bullseye was in fact Jubilee. Mysterio, the bowl-headed master of illusion (and traditional Spider-Man foe) had tricked Wolverine into killing every single X-Man. Mysterio had accounted for Wolverine’s super senses and even gone so far as to change the scent of Logan’s teammates.
In the movie, it is made fairly clear that all of the X-Men were killed as well. It is not, however, at the hands of Logan (which is why, likely, he has not taken up pacifism as in the comic). Referred to as the “Westchester Incident”, it appears as though Charles Xavier himself was responsible for the death of his beloved students. Based on the events of the film, it would seem that the degenerative brain disease affecting Xavier and causing him to have the psychic ‘seizures’ that prevent people from breathing were what ultimately killed Cyclops et al.
We have already touched on it a little bit, but it warrants discussion here. The convoluted arena of Marvel character licensing in film is most likely responsible for the drastically divergent plots of comics and movie. Fox is able to release films involving Marvel’s mutant characters, and the characters that belong inside the X-sphere (for lack of a better term). They are also able to use characters from the Fantastic Four corner of the MU; but have yet to crossover characters from those two pantheons. Sony controls the Spider-Man cast of characters (although they now have an agreement with Marvel Studios that allows Spider-Man in the Marvel movies and Iron Man and others into Sony pictures). Marvel Studios owns the rights to the rest, basically.
Because of this, a gigantic cast of characters appear in the comic and not the film. Logan’s roadtrip partner is Hawkeye. The Hulk is the main villain. Hawkeye’s ex-wife is Spider-Man’s youngest daughter, who is now married to an Ultron. There is a biker gang that uses flaming motorcycles and is called the Ghost Riders. Venom is bound to a dinosaur, and it’s only through Black Bolt and Emma Frost’s intervention that Logan is saved. A young child possesses Ant-Man’s helmet. The Hulk Gang ride around in a vandalized Fantasti-car. And so on.
While there were plenty of opportunities for more traditional Marvel characters in Logan, director James Mangold and his co-writers ultimately shied away from making it too much a part of the story.
What were some of the differences you noticed? Where do you think the two were surprisingly similar? We’d love to hear from you!