NOTE: The following post contains SPOILERS for Logan
Hugh Jackman’s take on Marvel’s mutton chop-sporting superhero Wolverine first appeared in 20th Century Fox’s X-Men, released in 2000. The actor reprised the role for each of the film’s sequels, before receiving a prequel solo movie in the critically maligned X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Jackman has since continued to appear as Wolverine, in both X-Men: Days of Future Past – which worked to merge the timelines of the original trilogy and Fox’s prequel movies – as well as a second standalone entry in James Mangold’s The Wolverine.
Next, Jackman and Mangold are reteaming for a third solo Wolverine movie, Logan, which is set in a near-future point of the X-Men franchise timeline and features an aged iteration of the titular hero. The plot of Logan sees the titular character caring for both an ailing Charles Xavier, played by the returning Patrick Stewart, and a young mutant called Laura (Dafne Keen). Logan also features Stephen Merchant as the mutant Caliban (a younger version of whom appeared in X-Men: Apocalypse) and Boyd Holbrook as antagonist Donald Pierce.
During a film showcase held by Fox in New York City last month, the studio screened footage from upcoming releases War for the Planet of the Apes, A Cure for Wellness, Alien: Covenant, and Logan. In the case of Mangold’s Logan, Fox showed the first act (roughly 40 minutes), which was well received by audiences. Now we break down the footage screened at the showcase in broad strokes and highlight key points as well as callouts to the larger X-Men mythology. Needless to say, there will be spoilers for Logan ahead.
Logan essentially hits the ground running, and it’s made clear – as hinted at in the trailers – that Wolverine’s powers and healing abilities have been affected by time passing. He no longer instantly heals, and he is scarred by past injuries. The fight sequences are brutal and bloody, differentiating Logan from previous X-Men movies and making it clear the film will likely need an R rating.
The first 40 minutes lays out the major characters included in Logan and either reveals or teases their relationships with each other – such as how Caliban fits into the mix, Pierce’s motivation in the story, as well as what forces Wolverine to team up with Charles and Laura. Additionally, it’s explained why Wolverine and Professor X are living in a remote, desert location. On a larger scale, the world of Logan is alluded to, further teasing the mystery of disappearing mutants.
Logan is largely removed from the rest of the X-Men universe since it’s set in the future, which was a goal of Mangold when constructing the film’s storyline. The last we saw of the X-Men universe, since Days of Future Past rewrote the original timeline, was Wolverine appearing back at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and seeing characters who had previously died in X-Men: The Last Stand.
As teased by the early reactions to the Logan footage, the opening act of Mangold’s film establishes a storyline that is set in a comic book movie universe, but fully informed by the western genre. Of course, Wolverine is much the same character as he’s always been – fiercely loyal to Charles Xavier, resistant to connection with new people, gruff, and a heavy drinker. But, while both Wolverine and Charles will be recognizable to fans, the tone of Logan is wholly different to that of any previous X-Men film. It has a sense of sentimentality amid the grit and violence exhibited in the first 40 minutes of the movie.
The unique tone of Logan could prove to be one of its biggest strengths as the superhero movie genre as a whole has become increasingly experimental – and experiments like the R-rated superhero comedy of Deadpool have seen such resounding success. Movie fans are arguably looking for comic book adaptations that break the mold and offer a new and/or different experience – which, based on the first 40 minutes, Logan accomplishes. It remains to be seen whether casual filmgoers and X-Men devotees will respond as positively to Jackman’s last Wolverine movie as the early reactions, but Logan certainly sets up a unique standalone entry in the X-Men universe.