The X-Men movie universe is one of the longest-running comic book cinematic worlds, and it has seen both successes and failures – especially in terms of adapting characters from the comics to the big screen. For instance, the first iteration of Deadpool, featured in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was heavily criticized for the Merc with a Mouth’s lips being sewn shut. Even prior to the film that kicked off 20th Century Fox’s whole mutant universe, Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000, fans worried that Hugh Jackman wouldn’t be quite the right fit for Wolverine.
However, devoted Marvel fans and casual moviegoers alike responded positively to Jackman’s portrayal of the mutton chop-sporting, adamantium claw-wielding superhero, and the actor has gone on to reprise the role in five following films. Jackman has said he’ll only don the mutton chops and claws once more, in the upcoming solo movie Logan, from director James Mangold. The film features an older version of the titular character – a version that doesn’t necessarily live up to the Wolverine of his heyday.
Last month at a film showcase, Fox screened the opening act of Logan (roughly the first 40 minutes), which included a brief shot of an X-Men comic – complete with Wolverine himself, decked out in the character’s iconic yellow suit. When Screen Rant asked Mangold during an interview following the showcase why the comic was included in the film, the director explained it helps to set up the world of Logan, in which the X-Men have risen to celebrity status:
“The world we find ourselves in when Logan begins, is a world in which all the merchandising and all the storytelling about the X-Men exists. It exists in a sense the same way movie stars can read their biography of their golden age in the past or sports stars may look in magazines or see replays running on ESPN of their golden moments in the past.
“That the comic books exist is a kind of recreation of something that happened and something that Logan is trying to run from — meaning he’s tired of the legend. He’s tired of the stories, he’s tired of the people recognizing him on the street, and he’s tired of someone holding out an action figure of him. All that merchandizing exists in the movie, and I think it produces a very interesting effect, much more real world which was our goal. What is it like to be one of these characters who’s been sold, packaged, reported on, and a hero to kids — might have posters on some kid’s wall — yet you’re not fulfilling it anymore, you can’t keep up anymore? And that’s the interesting question the movie asks.
Marvel fans will no doubt appreciate the inclusion of the X-Men comic in Logan, though it is perhaps a little jarring without Mangold’s explanation of how it is indicative of the larger world – as well as the celebrity and mythic status the X-Men have reached at this point in the timeline. As far as Fox’s mutant universe has been developed, this seems to be the first indication that the X-Men will be merchandized in such a way, and idolized alongside movie stars and sports stars. Although villains like Magneto have achieved notoriety within the X-Men movie universe, the same hasn’t been seen for Charles Xavier’s team of superheroes.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has somewhat delved into exploring what average citizens think of The Avengers or, in the Netflix corner of the world, the various members of The Defenders. Netflix’s Marvel series have featured characters selling bootleg videos of the New York City attack in The Avengers, and we know from the 2012 film that Captain America had been merchandized following his disappearance – which makes sense given Steve Rogers started off as glorified bonds salesman. Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe has seen similar teases, with a man selling Superman shirts following the character’s apparent death in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Still, since Mangold doesn’t elaborate on whether viewers will see more nods to the X-Men and their merchandizing – and the film isn’t set to debut for another two months – it remains to be seen how exactly this thread will affect Wolverine throughout Logan. At the very least, it seems to be another marker of Wolverine’s age, and an ideal with which he can no longer compete due to his diminishing powers. No matter how the thread is woven into the film, the inclusion of an X-Men comic in Logan is certainly an intriguing reference for Marvel fans to discuss.