The trailer for “Logan”, the last movie where Hugh Jackman will don the claws of Marvel’s most brutal mutant, has got the Internet buzzing with anticipation. This, though, is a very different Wolverine than the one you might have seen before. The movie, while fitting into the continuity formed at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past (where Wolverine’s time travelling resulted in a soft reset of the original timeline, meaning Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey, and Halle Berry’s Storm were all still alive), is set ten years after that period – and mutants have all but been wiped out.
Wolverine himself is a shadow of what he was – his healing factor has slowed, he bears the scars of many fights to survive, and he’s no longer the cigar-smoking badass of previous installments. This Logan is haunted, in pain and aware the end is near, both for him and Professor Xavier, for whom he now cares. Into the mix comes a girl called Laura, who he’s told is “a lot like him”. Her introduction leads dark forces to Logan, who is forced to confront his inner rage once more to protect those close to him.
Before we get into the details revealed in the trailer, it’s important to note that the story of a weakened, older Wolverine is based on Mark Millar’s critically acclaimed story “Old Man Logan”. In it, the titular character has long since given up fighting. Now a pacifist, due to being tricked into slaughtering the rest of the X-Men, Wolverine hasn’t popped his claws in years. Supervillains have conquered the world and only a few heroes who stay under the radar or who choose not to fight are left. Logan has a house in the desert with his family, renting land owned by a now-tyrannical Hulk and his inbred descendants. Refusing to stand up to them and needing the money to pay his rent, he accepts a job from a blond Hawkeye to help him ferry a package across the country. When the job goes wrong, Logan swipes the money and goes home, only to find the Hulk family have got bored and killed his next of kin. That prompts him to let loose his claws once more on a mission of vengeance – vowing to clean up the rest of the villains once he’s done with Bruce Banner and his alter-ego.
Because of rights issues, Fox can’t adapt this story verbatim. No Hawkeye, Hulk or the likes of Captain America and Iron Man for them to use, so they’ve taken the theme of a Logan approaching the end of his time and adapted it to a new story that incorporates other X-Men. Lots of the major themes of the movie are hinted at in the trailer, set to the sombre “Hurt” by Johnny Cash.
Logan’s done something terribly wrong
“Logan, what did you do?”, are the first words heard in the trailer, spoken by Professor Xavier – it indicates that Logan may have indeed committed some terrible act akin to the source material. The following sentences, telling the audience that “mutants are all gone”, may be a reference to the organisation that’s systematically wiping them out across the planet – but they could also hint at Logan making a grave mistake that’s forced him into isolation in much the same way the original book does. His lack of willingness to intervene in others affairs would seem to support this.
He’s not the man he used to be…
The presence of scars all over Logan’s body, coupled with his greying hair and shaking hands, tells you Logan’s powers are waning. Whereas it was cool seeing his body eject a bullet out of his forehead after being shot in X2, there’s something haunting about seeing the previously unstoppable Wolverine beaten down to the point his body just can’t take the damage anymore. In the book, Logan chooses not to pop his claws because of his past indiscretions, but another theme, that his healing factor has diminished to the point he’s in immense pain each time he unsheathes his Adamantium weapons could be at work here. The promotional posters showing raw, scarred flesh around his knuckles would indicate that bearing his claws is doing more damage to him that he would admit.
…Neither is Professor Xavier
The far, and now defunct, future illustrated in Days of Future Past, saw an older, but more resolute and powerful Professor X fighting the Sentinels and supporting his allies and enemies as a charismatic leader of Mutantkind. Now that’s gone, fate has dealt a different hand to Charles Xavier. Patrick Stewart is a huge part of the trailer, with his voice linking together a lot of the more significant moments. His appearance though, is much different. Here, the leader of the X-Men is a frail, tired, shadow of his former self. There’s some suggestion that the decline in his powers is also responsible for his fragile physical condition, as well as for a decline in simple mental faculties too. Logan is obviously caring for his mentor in the early stages of the story, giving him a home in a downed water tower reminiscent of Cerebro, where the Professor felt most alive.
“Very much like you…”
And so we get to the $64,000 question – who is the girl who Logan feels bound to protect. The clues were in the voiceover, where Professor X describes her similarity to the title character himself. Director James Mangold recently confirmed her identity – that of Laura Kinney, better known to comic fans as X-23, a clone of Logan. In the comics, she’s recently taken on the Wolverine mantle as part of Marvel’s new direction (Logan having been killed off). Here, she’s not yet capable of defending herself against the forces pursuing her – even though she’s seen in the trailer giving it a good go. She’s got Logan’s healing factor, but only has two claws instead of three (and one each in her feet), but no Adamantium skeleton.
Who’s this mystery man?
Speculation abounds that this is Richard E.Grant’s character (the actor himself having not appeared in the trailer), with him playing Dr. Zander Rice (not Nathaniel Essex as had been teased – although that character WILL appear). Rice’s father worked on the Weapon X Program and was killed by a fleeing Wolverine. Years later, Rice works on recreating the Weapon X experiment with his mentor, Dr. Martin Sutter. He was eventually paired with Dr. Sarah Kinney, whom he did not get along with. When Sarah suggested making a female clone for Wolverine, Rice reluctantly agreed, but forced her to carry the embryo to term. Rice proceeded to mistreat and abuse Laura Kinney, who he called “Pet” and “Animal”. Rice uses Laura’s trigger scent to kill Sutter so that he can be in charge of the program and create more clones to sell on the market. Actually, this is Stephen Merchant, who’s playing Caliban (the mutant being guarded by Olivia Munn’s Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse – although on that occasion he was played by Tómas Lemarquis). Caliban is helping Professor X find the world’s remaining mutants, but later in the trailer we see him being forced to use his power to track down people he doesn’t want to reveal the whereabouts of.
A look at his dog tag hints at Wolverine’s checkered past. If we were being indulgent, we’d suggest that this harkened back to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, with the epic opening sequence of him fighting in wars since the turn of the last Century. That timeline is gone though, so this is probably going to refer to what happened in between him being fished out of the Potomac River at the end of Days of Future Past, and his incarceration at the hands of the Weapon Plus program in Apocalypse. With this being Jackman’s last movie, it’d probably tie up the loose ends that wouldn’t be featured in Fox’s other X-Movies.
The bad guys of the piece. In the comics, The Reavers work for the aforementioned Nathaniel Essex as his enforcers. They’re humans who are determined to hunt down and kill or capture mutants for Essex and his research into genetic manipulation. Their augmentations are far more extreme in the comics than here – one character adapts his lower body into tank treads – but they still cut fearsome figures with their military tech and cybernetic limbs. The leader is Donald Pierce (played by Boyd Holbrook), who is a sadistic right hand man to Essex and will gleefully murder in his master’s name.
The Last of Us
Those of you familiar with the gaming community will have noticed the parallels between this story and that of the 2013 Playstation 3 release “The Last of Us” from developers Naughty Dog. The lead character Joel, who’s no angel, takes it upon himself to look after young girl Ellie, who might be the key to saving civilisation. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? That’s not to say Logan has taken any key elements from the game, but the overall look and relationship between the main characters means you can’t help draw parallels. Anyone who’s played the game knows it doesn’t end well for Joel – whether that is the same for Logan remains to be seen.
Unleashing the beast
A subtle point in this part of the trailer is Logan’s facial hair is noticeably different from the full beard that he sports in the early clips. Here, it’s much more akin to the traditional Wolverine “Mutton Chops”. That means he’ll at least find a razor at some point. More importantly though, is the return of the more vicious Wolverine that has only been glimpsed so far – despite Jackman playing the character in seven movies in the last sixteen years. Here he’s impaling soldiers left, right and centre and pulling no punches (or claws), when it comes to slicing up the people threatening those near to him. That’s similar to the source material, where a weaker Logan is more vicious and he no longer has the endurance to fight indefinitely.
“You’ve still got time”
Cryptic words from Patrick Stewart’s voiceover in the final scene of the trailer doesn’t give away much, but lends credence to the theory that this is the end for Logan. His strength and endurance is slipping away, and he has unfinished business that he doesn’t have much time to take care of. Another subtle point is the fact that Logan is bloodied, battered and bruised, suggesting he’s had a recent run in with the Reavers, but also, he’s holding a shovel, and given Professor Xavier’s failing health, it might be that his time runs out before Logan’s.