#XMen fans have been eagerly awaiting the first promotional push for Wolverine III for months, and it's finally begun! In an exciting teaser, Fox has released a poster that tells us the film is entitled Logan. It's a simple but fitting title, one that brings an end to Hugh Jackman's time as everybody's favorite Canucklehead. Meanwhile, plot details are beginning to leak into the public sphere, and they hint at what could be a tremendous final outing for the classic #Wolverine.
The problem is, yet again, everything seems to point to the film causing real continuity problems for Fox. Today I want to explore them.
The Comic Book Inspiration for Logan
It's been an open secret for two years that this final Wolverine movie would be loosely inspired by a much-loved comic book plot called "Old Man Logan". This plot took readers to a dystopian future, where the world's supervillains have successfully defeated the heroes — and Wolverine played a key part in their triumph. Manipulated by the classic Spider-Man villain Mysterio, Wolverine was tricked into slaughtering the #XMen (he believed he was defending them). This heart-wrenching experience broke Wolverine's spirit, even causing him to attempt suicide.
"Old Man Logan" picks up decades later, with Wolverine settled down in a backwater corner of post-heroic America. He's not trying to save the world; rather, he's consigned himself to it. Events conspire against Wolverine, though, drawing him back into action, forcing him to kill the President (the Red Skull) and ultimately take on the Hulk in a final, bloody brawl.
It's a classic plot; haunting and powerful, it's a disturbing glimpse into the possible future for the Marvel Universe. It's possible, though, because Marvel has what's called a 'Multiverse'. This was an alternate future timeline, one in which the world went wrong; but Marvel never even tried to pretend it wasn't just another of their countless 'What If?' stories. Recently, Marvel has brought Old Man Logan into the present day, and by doing so has underlined the fact he comes from an alternate future; the first arc showed him failing to realize that, and going on a killing spree against the supervillains he feared would take control of the world.
How Logan is Adapting This Classic Plot
We already knew that Logan would have to heavily adapt this; after all, "Old Man Logan" actually only featured two X-Men (Wolverine and a future version of the White Queen). Other than that, it set Wolverine against a backdrop of Marvel allies and enemies, ranging from Hawkeye to the Hulk. Fox doesn't have the license to use any of these characters.
Still, some of the bare bones of this timeline are there. If strong rumors are to be believed, Logan will introduce us to a future timeline in which mutants are a dying breed — they've become rare, and those mutants who are still alive are seeing their powers misfire. Patrick Stewart's Professor X hardly looks healthy, and Wolverine's vaunted healing factor is beginning to shut down. Using this dystopian future as a backdrop, Logan will launch Wolverine into action against a company that has used his DNA to create a female clone, X-23.
Here's the catch. That DNA was collected in X-Men: Apocalypse's end-credits sequence, which Fox has already confirmed was a tie-in to Logan. That means that, unlike the "Old Man Logan" comic, the events of Logan are part of the main timeline.
Why This is a Continuity Problem
Fox has often been criticized for the awkward continuity of the X-Men films. The studio used X-Men: Days of Future Past to breathe new life into the franchise, though, kick-starting a new timeline that erased past errors. X-Men: Apocalypse introduced us to this new timeline, and brought a new team of X-Men to the forefront.
Now, although we got an optimistic glimpse of this new future in Days of Future Past, we know that the new timeline ends in tragedy. It ends with the mutants dying out, with mutant powers misfiring, and with Wolverine and Xavier on their own once again. This is now the future that the X-Men movies are heading towards.
The latest X-Men trilogy has been set in the past, and we know that the next X-Men movie will be based in the 1990s. Fans have been wondering where Fox can go from there, though; the studio can hardly keep jumping forward ten years to give us another movie. There'd been a vague suspicion that the tentpole X-Men films would eventually move to the present day, or to the 'near future' (the approach in the original trilogy).
Now, that's not possible. The nearer the X-Men films get to the present day, the more they're bound by the future of Logan. If rumors are to be believed, Logan is only set in the mid-2020s. Even if that date isn't specified in the film, it has to be in the near-future - after all, Professor X is still around!
Now imagine that Fox considers doing an X-Men movie in the 2010s. By this point, there would be hints that the dark future of Logan was coming; mutants would be becoming rarer, and a couple of mutants may be seeing their powers misfire. If Fox chose the late 2010s, you'd be seeing the dying days of the mutant race. Logan leaves Fox with no room to manoeuvre.
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I'm sure that Logan will be an excellent film, and I'm as eager as anyone else to see Hugh Jackman's final outing. That said, I have to admit that I don't think Fox has been wise. The studio has inadvertently locked itself into a continuity minefield, just as surely as X-Men: The Last Stand effectively blocked off the first timeline by killing so many major characters. Yet again, Fox has plotted a single film without considering its impact on the franchise as a whole, and I fear this will cause real problems for the future of X-Men movies.
Are you looking forward to Logan?
Images: Photographs sourced from Fox, comic panels from Marvel Comics