Logan has got to be one of the most anticipated movies of 2017, and fans are seriously looking forward to a Wolverine flick that allows the character to finally get his claws bloody. This violent solo outing for our favorite feral mutant is far more than just another X-Men movie, however. Logan will be the final film for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine; will be introducing X-23 (who may take over the Wolverine title for future films); and will be acting as a test to see if R-rated comic films really are the way forward for Fox, or if the massive success of Deadpool was a one-off. In addition to all of that, fans are wondering if the film may also be introducing yet another timeline to the X-Men universe, as they wonder what has happened to the other mutants.
We know that while Logan and Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) are still alive and kicking (just about, anyway), they and Caliban (Stephen Merchant) appear to be among the few mutants left on Earth. An image posted by Jackman back in October shows a bathroom stall with the words "Where are all the mutants" scrawled into the paint, and the Logan trailers and TV spots have shown us a world where mutantkind is all but wiped out. X-23 (Dafne Keen) is being hunted, and is a 'new mutant' - suggesting this is something rare and valuable - and none of the other stars of the X-Men cinematic universe are going to be appearing in the film. There is no doubt that the mutants are mostly gone in the world of Logan, but where did they go?
Wolverine: Old Man Logan
The mutants are also missing in the comic series that inspired this film, Wolverine: Old Man Logan. In the books, not even Charles Xavier or X-23 are present, and Wolverine is the last of the mutants, hiding out until another superhero comes to ask for help. Over the course of the story, we learn that the villains of the world banded together to overcome the heroes, and the dsytopian setting is a result of their rule. We also learn that tragically, it was Wolverine who had a hand in creating this world, although he didn't intend to.
[SPOILERS ahead, for anyone who hasn't read Old Man Logan!]
When the supervillains took over, they came to the X-Mansion and found Wolverine there. Wolverine leapt into action to save the kids at the school, believing that he was attacking the villains as they poured into the mansion. It was only at the end, when he had managed to kill dozens of enemies, that his vision cleared and he learned the truth. The only supervillain who came to the mansion that night was Mysterio, who used his powers to make Wolverine believe that he was battling the others. Instead, he was fighting his friends. Mysterio used Wolverine to take out the entire X-Men roster, knowing that they would hesitate to kill him, and that the villains couldn't take them all on. Logan looks around at the corpses of his teammates strewn around the room, and swears that his Wolverine persona is dead, and he will never use his powers again.
Comic Vs Movie
It's certainly possible that Wolverine was tricked into slaughtering the X-Men in Logan, and it would suit the gritty, violent style of the film. This would also explain why Wolverine doesn't want to be involved with a new mutant or with Charles Xavier, and why he feels that he would be better off alone. However, it's not the only possibility, and there are enough other differences between the comic and the movie to make us wonder what else could have happened.
One option centers on the villain of the film: Dr Zander Rice (Richard E Grant) and Transigen. Transigen is a project run by the Essex Corporation, a classic evil-scientist-style operation that has been experimenting on mutants. We have already had a glimpse of the Essex Corporation's reach in X-Men: Apocalypse, when mutant blood samples from the Weapon X project were put in an Essex briefcase, but it looks like we're going to really delve into the Essex plans for mutantkind in Logan. Dr Rice is responsible for the creation of X-23 in the comics, and it's likely that he's been doing plenty more experimentation on mutantkind in this universe as well - could Transigen be responsible for the decimation of the mutants? Fans have speculated ways that a science-driven organization could have significantly slowed the birthrate of mutants, including the use of viruses or the simple kidnapping of existing mutants for experimentation. Of course, Transigen may instead be attempting to create more mutants, not wipe them out, while something else is responsible for the mutant extinction.
Blame Time Travel
Another possibility is connected to the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. In this installment in the X-Men franchise, Wolverine traveled back in time from a horrifying 2023 where Sentinels were wiping out mutantkind, intending to stop the events that led to the creation of the mutant-killing robots. He succeeded, albeit not quite as he planned, and the film ends with Wolverine returning to a world where the X-Men are happy at Xavier's school, and where the events of all the previous films (with the exception of X-Men: First Class) have been wiped from the timeline. Set in 2024, Logan presents a different dystopian future, where something other than Sentinals has been killing off mutants - and some wonder if this could be explained by the timeline attempting to 'correct' itself.
This is a regular occurrence in time travel movies (and TV series, and books, and comics...). The idea is that although a character tries to change the future, the future wants to happen the way it originally did, and something else will occur to bring about that original future. So in this case, Logan stopped the creation of the Sentinels, but something else has happened to balance out that change and find another way to create a 2024 where mutantkind has died out. The heart of this idea is that it's not really possible to change the future - that things will happen the way that they are 'supposed' to, and there isn't really anything that can be done about it. This is, however, a slightly complicated explanation that would continue to push the most confusing part of the franchise (timeline weirdness) front and center. Fans are already unsure of how Deadpool fits in with the current timelines, or how the final scenes of Days of Future Past will play into the events of upcoming X-Men movies.
Alternate Realities And Other Options
The final likely explanation for the lack of mutants is the alternate reality theory. In the comics, Old Man Logan takes place in an alternate universe - a fantastic device used to allow comic writers to explore dystopian worlds outside of the core universe. The character of Old Man Logan has also recently crossed over into the main Marvel universe (with the new 'Old Man Logan' title for All New, All Different Marvel). If the films wanted to mimic the comics, it would be perfectly possible for Logan to exist in an alternate future, and for X-23 to join the main X-Men universe at a later date by jumping from universe to universe. It's simpler in many ways, and doesn't create more timeline confusion. This would also set a precedent that would allow Fox to make other 'alternate reality' movies, which could certainly be a bonus for the studio.
All of these options are, of course, simply speculation at the moment. All we know is that the mutants are gone, and any of these could be revealed to be the reason why. Whether Logan killed them, they have been experimented to extinction, the timeline itself has killed them, or they are in an alternate, mutant-less universe, the 'why' isn't going to be central to the film. Instead, it's the character of Logan and his relationship with X-23 that is going to carry the narrative, with the loss of the X-Men helping that along. At least - that's what we are hoping to see. As interesting as timelines can be, Deadpool did well because it ignored the larger cinematic universe in favor of making a movie that stood entirely on its own. Logan would do well to follow suit, providing us with backstory that helps drive the narrative of this one story, rather than the narrative of the entire franchise. After all, as long as Logan himself is as good as we're hoping, does it really matter where the other mutants have gone?
We've only got a couple of weeks to go before we find out what happened, but what do you think? Have the mutants been murdered by Logan, by the Essex Corporation, by the timeline itself, or is something else going on? Comment and let us know!
- Logan (2017) release date: Mar 03, 2017
- New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020