This article contains nothing but Logan spoilers.
Logan is barely what you would consider a superhero movie, and it’s one of the very select few in recent years that has decided to throw most of the things you ordinarily associate with this genre right out the window. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still steeped in Marvel and X-Men lore, and there are lots of neat things, both comic related and otherwise, floating around in the margins that are still worth pointing out.
So, here’s how this works. We’ve got everything we found here, but there’s probably a bunch of stuff we missed. You can call ’em out in the comments, or yell at Mike on Twitter, and if it checks out, we’ll update this piece!
We’ll start with the source material.
Old Man Logan
Logan is very (and we mean very) loosely based on Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s “Old Man Logan” story, which ran in the main Wolverine comic between 2008-2009. “Old Man Logan” was never intended to be Logan’s “real” future, but rather a kind of alternate reality where the creative team got to have a little fun with the Marvel Universe.
And make no mistake, that comic was heavily set in the Marvel Universe. Really, the only thing it has in common with this movie is the fact that it features Logan (as an “old man”) and a road trip. In the comic, Logan’s traveling partner isn’t Professor Xavier, but Hawkeye, and the villains include the descendants of Bruce Banner as inbred Hulk-like gang members. The USA is a Marvel dystopia divided up among the Hulks, Red Skull, a new Kingpin, and others, because all the heroes died decades back.
Now, you can say there’s a similarity to the death of nearly all the superheroes and the fact that the X-Men in this movie are dead/disbanded and no new mutants are being born, and you’d be right to do it.
Revealed in snippets, it appears that the remaining X-Men were killed by Xavier having a seizure. While the Logan film only resembles Old Man Logan in the most skeletal sense, this reveal appears to be a twist on how things went down in the comic. In the comic, Wolverine killed off the X-Men single-handed due to a mental attack (via Spider-Man baddie Mysterio), which led to him being spiritually defeated. Instead, the film uses that concept as a red herring, showing that Xavier killed off the X-Men single-handedly due to a mental attack.
But that’s pretty much where the similarities to the source material end, though. And trust us, Logan is a far more nuanced story than the comic.
– Caliban was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, first showing up in Uncanny X-Men #148 back in 1981. A mutant with the power to track other mutants, he was one of the founding members of the Morlocks and was essentially their living Cerebro. Like in Logan, Caliban switched from villain to redemptive hero, as he was part of Apocalypse’s thrall on two occasions (Horseman of Death and later Horseman of Pestilence). His father named after the character from Shakespeare’s Tempest, monstrously referencing the character’s freakish nature. Caliban was never part of the Reavers in the comics, though in the House of M universe, he helped track down mutants for the Marauders.
This doesn’t appear to be the same version of the character that we met in X-Men: Apocalypse, which would raise some timeline/continuity questions if any of that made any sense in this franchise in the first place.
– Laura, or X-23, first appeared on the rather underrated X-Men: Evolution animated series and then made her comic book debut in NYX, an unremarkable mutant comic from the early 2000s, as a teenaged prostitute with claws who didn’t talk much. She didn’t really come into her own until the X-23 limited series, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Also note that you can spot “X-23” on Laura’s medical sheet.
– While this might be a little bit of a stretch, “Gabriella Lopez” may not seem like a comic book connection, but in the comics, there’s another X-23 clone running around named (you guessed it) “Gabby.”
– Dr. Zander Rice was introduced in X-23 #1 (2005) by Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Billy Tan. His film depiction is pretty faithful as he was the one in charge of Laura’s creation and his father was involved in Wolverine’s Weapon X experiments. Before he could make more clones and market them to the highest bidder, X-23 killed him.
– Transigen doesn’t seem to have a Marvel parallel, but you can see that it’s tied to Alkali, which played so heavily in X2: X-Men United.
Who is X-24?
– X-24, the mindless clone of Wolverine, is cosmetically made to resemble Liev Schreiber’s version of Sabretooth from X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Mentally, he’s more like Sabretooth from the first X-Men film. If you’re messing around a with an evil Wolverine, might as well press on the parallels.
Not that we want to bring up too many memories of that movie, but why not just use Schreiber’s Sabretooth here? The problems of that movie are well documented, but he wasn’t one of them. This could have been a nice way to wrap things up and give a good actor a little redemption for a part he kind of got screwed on.
Although, I have to say…Trevor in the comics makes a good case that X-24 could almost be a callback to forgotten Wolverine android Albert, who first appeared way the hell back in Wolverine #37 in 1991. Albert was indeed created by Mr. Donald Pierce (who we’ll get to in a minute), and that’s pretty much where the similarities end. But nevertheless, there is some precedent for Wolvie fighting himself in one form or another.
Donald Pierce and The Reavers
OK, so…Pierce and friends are considerably more flamboyant in the comics, but the basic mission here is the same. They’ve been annoying the hell out of Marvel’s mutants since Uncanny X-Men #230.
– Donald Pierce even uses the slur “mutie” which hasn’t been deployed all that often in the course of this franchise. It ties in with the “border” parallels with our own troubled times.
– Before the final battle, one of the Reavers is shown standing up from inside a jeep with only his top half being visible. This is a nice visual nod to Bonebreaker, the most iconic member of the Reavers in the comics, whose bottom half is completely replaced with tank treads. Also, duh…he’s listed in the credits as Bonebreaker!
Also noted in the credits is the guy with the machine gun for a forearm, another Reaver known as Pretty Boy.
The New Mutants
No, not those New Mutants!
– We’ll probably catch more of these names on another viewing (and if you did, please shout ’em out in the comments) but some of the names of the kids that Laura keeps repeating include: Rictor, Gideon, Bobby, Jamaica, Rebecca, and Delilah.
Rictor, of course is a regular member of X-Force and later X-Factor with the power to create tremors. The power sets of the other kids don’t seem to line up with any names, but again, if we’re wrong, please shout it out and we’ll correct ’em.
Speaking of Rictor…Who is the voice on the other end of Rictor’s radio? M. Jason Bowling down in the comments thinks this could be an indirect allusion to Canadian mutant heroes Alpha Flight, but I still think the movie’s border narrative is a little more straightforward and political.
Gideon was an X-Force villain, but something tells me that isn’t where they’re going with this one.
We never see any Sunspot like powers, do we? But “Bobby” could be Roberto da Costa. (ahem, more “new mutants”)
Someone there sure has similar powers to Nature Girl, too.
What About Those Comics?
We wrote about those in more detail here, but the “vintage” X-Men comics you see in the movie aren’t even real X-Men comics! They’re new art by Joe Quesada and Dan Panosian.
For the record, we don’t agree with Mr. Logan’s assessment of superhero stories as “ice cream for bedwetters” but we can see how he might feel that way. Perhaps more important is the implication that this particular future might not even be the actual future of the X-Men movie franchise. It’s almost like a subtle acknowledgment that the franchise’s timeline and continuity are something of a mess. Either way, nothing changes the fact that Logan is an excellent movie.
Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some cool things about them…
One of the covers of the in-universe X-Men comic shows Sauron. Created by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams in X-Men #59 (1969), Sauron is a man who mutated into a pterodactyl-like energy vampire and has been a regular threat to the team. While Sauron has yet to appear in an X-Men movie in the flesh, his real name Karl Lykos did appear when Mystique was searching through some computer files back in X-Men 2.
One of the other fake X-Men comics shows a fastball special. What’s a fastball special? We’re glad you asked…
That, my friends, is a fastball special.
Is Logan Really Dead?
We’re going to go out on a limb here and say yes. At the very least, it’s extraordinarily unlikely we’ll ever see Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman play these roles ever again. While no bankable piece of intellectual property is likely to languish in a studio’s filing cabinet for too long, the Jackman/Stewart era is over, and director James Mangold explained his reasoning for this to us here.
But again, don’t be surprised if we end up with a new, younger Logan in future X-Men movies. After all, do you have any idea how many times he has died in the comics? Hint: it’s a frakkin’ lot.
Miscellaneous Mutations and Unanswered Questions
– Logan and Xavier briefly discuss an incident at the Statue of Liberty, which Logan says was a long, long time ago. The Statue of Liberty is where the climax to the first X-Men movie took place, back in 2000.
– The adamantium bullet that Logan carries around with him may be a holdover from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where those things were thrown around quite a bit. Then again, we don’t talk about that movie these days, right?
– You can see Wolvie’s samurai sword from The Wolverine hanging up in an early scene, too.
– Donald Pierce brings up Freddy Krueger, the clawed star of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. The similarities between Krueger and Wolverine were jokingly brought up in the first Transformers movie, too.
– Logan and Xavier’s watertower hideout is owned by “A multi-national smelting company based in Shanghai.” For real, they couldn’t have said “based in Madripoor” for a little additional comic authenticity? Movie ruined! (not really, this movie is amazing)
– One of the other doctors at Transigen is named Henry McGee. Not to be confused with X-Man Henry McCoy or annoying reporter from The Incredible Hulk TV series, Jack McGee.
– Xavier and Laura watch the film Shane, which came out in 1953. Based on the novel by Jack Schaefer, it tells the story of a weary and grizzled gunslinger who finds himself playing hero while seeing himself as nothing more than a relic of a bygone era. Sound familiar?
– The Grant-Lee Phillips song playing in the bar is called “Find My Way” and it’s pretty great and the lyrics are definitely appropriate for poor ol’ Wolvie in this movie.
– Speaking of music, there’s a Dr. Acula poster in the son’s room. I don’t know why this band is referenced in a movie that takes place 20-something years in the future, but they do indeed exist.
– Is it my imagination or did I spot a copy of The Once & Future King on the bookshelf in that house, too? That book was a recurring theme in X2: X-Men United.
– Is there any precedent from the comics for Xavier being into botany? I feel like it’s worth noting that the plants he’s tending are the only lush plant life we see until we get to “Eden” later in the film.
– In the cemetery scene, I couldn’t help but notice prominent names on the headstones were Peters (as in Parker? haha!) and Rogers (as in Captain America?!?! not really). OK, it’s a stretch, but it was in our notes.
– Pretty sure there’s a Wilhelm scream during that chase.