A Character-Driven Story
No matter who the villains are, one of the biggest strengths of "Old Man Logan" is the fact it's a character study. The journey here is fairly simple: An already devastated man attempts to save his family and desperately wants to hold onto the safe life he's built. He's not rushing to prevent the destruction of the world or anything like that. The stakes here are personal, not grand in scale. It's all about seeing a broken version of a hero we all know so well, exploring a twisted version of a familiar world. The X-Men movie universe has already shined a spotlight on Wolverine's psyche and showed just how much agony he carries with him, and "Old Man Logan" has the potential to hit him with the most heart-breaking and horrifying conflict yet.
With the right approach, this is the kind of movie that could do a superb job humanizing Wolverine while also making moviegoers incredibly anxious to see him unleash those lethal claws. Now, putting it like that does make the film seem overly bleak (and the above image certainly further sells that tone), but a charismatic supporting character and an intriguing world prevents the tale from feeling overly somber. Jackman has proven he can provide a compelling performance - and "Old Man Logan" has the ability to present the most gripping one yet.
No Hawkeye? No Problem
One of the Old Man Logan's highlights is a blind version of Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye. Obviously, Marvel Studios and Disney have the rights to the character (he's played by Jeremy Renner) and the archer isn't one of those rare cases where both studios can use the character (e.g. Quicksilver). That's okay because there's so many other options. Quite literally any X-Men related character who wasn't part of the slaughter could fill that gap - it's all about the dynamic between these two and the mandatory exposition. This person needs to have adapted to this terrible place and know it well. They also need to be unaware of why Logan has become a pacifist. If this was an X-Man who stumbled upon the bodies of his or her fallen allies, they could immediately assume it was part of the villain uprising, and they may be too traumatized to inspect the bodies and see the three claw marks. Or, perhaps, deep down, they know it's Wolverine and want him to eventually confess what he did.
The writer of the comic, Mark Millar, gave the best substitute for Hawkeye's role: a Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, with no ruby quartz visor to protect the world from the optic blasts his eyes generate, so he walks around with his eyes closed. Just like Hawkeye, he too could wield a sword and his personality could have changed a bit after years and years of surviving in this world. Seeing as many felt Cyclops, a prominent X-Men character, was underused in the previous films, this could be a fitting way to finally give moviegoers a cinematic version of Cyclops who's badass and has a charismatic personality. Plus, the dynamic between those two is full of potential - there's so much history there.
It was recently stated that Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X, will have a role in Wolverine 3. Given the character's age, this means a story with Wolverine taking place 50 years in the future couldn't include Charles. So, if the studio does want to stick closely to the source material, this story could take place 10, or even 20, years in the future, and thanks to some practical and visual effects, Xavier can be appropriately aged. Or, he could be present in flashbacks as part of the slaughter itself, or someone who desperately tries to help Logan in the aftermath of it. The X-Men's leader isn't in the comic (though Emma Frost is...), but if the movie does go with "Old Man Logan", it's very unlikely to be a direct adaptation anyway, so just like with the villains, the inclusion of new characters is both understandable and expected.
The addition of an X-Men character who is close to Wolverine makes sense. No matter how big of a role Stewart plays or how he's incorporated - could he be encountered during the journey? - the Professor could be there and simply want to help this clearly shattered version of a man he once knew. Xavier's compassion knows no bounds, and even after Wolverine slaughtered all of the people he loved, he may still find the strength to want to help Logan. He could strive to make Wolverine feel less responsible for what happened to the X-Men - and that dynamic could generate a powerful and emotional scene in between all of the action and chaos.
"Old Man Logan" is loaded with character insight as it focuses on Wolverine while he's at such a low point, but it's also packed with popcorn entertainment. Wolverine popping his claws isn't required for an exciting action sequence, and that's something Millar and McNiven proved multiple times in the comic. From attempting to escape an overwhelming threat, to his teammate doing all of the fighting, there's a great selection of thrilling action sequences to draw inspiration from. Then, when Wolverine finally does break and he pops his claws, it absolutely has the potential to be a moment that's well worth the wait - if handled properly, of course.
Odds are the movie won't be able to be as graphic as the comic is (unless perhaps the R-rated Deadpool is a huge success?), but with some clever camera work and editing, they can still get away with a satisfying amount of Wolverine's excessively violent finale. Jackman is perfectly aware of the fact that fans want to see more berserker rage, after all.
Will Wolverine pull a lot of material from "Old Man Logan", or will it just be a loose adaptation? The latter would be the easiest route for the studio to take - especially for the sake of continuity. But if this really is Jackman's final performance as Logan, he deserves to go out with a bang, and Millar and McNiven's "Old Man Logan" - which is often regarded as one of the best Wolverine stories around - can make his departure an amazing experience. A live-action version of that emotional, action-packed, and legitimately attention-grabbing world has the chance to be a phenomenal way for Jackman to end his time as Wolverine (while also teasing just how much potential exists within Fox's X-Men cinematic universe).
What do you think, Screen Rant readers? Would you like to see Jackman conclude his time as Wolverine in a movie that stays very true to "Old Man Logan", or would you prefer a new story that draws only some inspiration from it?
Deadpool opens February 12, 2016; X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit on October 7, 2016; Wolverine on March 3, 2017; Fantastic Four 2 on June 9, 2017; and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.