In Logan, all aspects of Caliban felt... different. Played by gangly British comedian-turned-actor, Stephen Merchant, the sun-sensitive mutant stood out as peculiar, even in James Mangold's dark and dehydrated dystopian future. For a character who stood out as unique (not only due to Merchant's conspicuous Bristolian accent), his abrupt and selfless death was both unconventional and fitting.
However, Caliban's final moment was almost even more harrowing. #Logan's R-rating had a significant impact on the film's tone, and the death of the clairvoyant mutant was fitting with that. After being kidnapped by Transigen's chief security officer, Donald Pierce, Caliban is held hostage in the back of van, his skin scorched by blazing sunlight in an act of punishment.
In the original theatrical run, following Charles Xavier's shocking death at the claws of the rejuvenated and primed Wolverine clone, X-24, #Caliban blows himself to smithereens in the back of his van prison in an altruistic attempt to kill Pierce and a number of Reavers, aiding #Wolverine's and X-23's escape. Although he did go out with a bang, it was a surprisingly curt end for one of the film's most interesting characters.
Caliban's Deleted Death Scene In 'Logan' Is Even More Heartbreaking
The deleted scene (which you can view below), though, shows that Mangold made the right decision with Caliban's demise. In that alternate ending, Caliban crawls free of the wreckage, battered, bloodied and bruised. As a weary Wolverine carries X-23 to safety, he turns around and holds prolonged, agonizing eye contact with his mutant ally, before Caliban takes his final breath and dies.
By having this comparison, it highlights that a more concise death was the better option. On first viewing, you'd be forgiven for feeling like Caliban's death was discourteous. Instead, the deleted scene highlights how prolonging the scene almost takes the edge off of Caliban's heroic deed; rather than go out in an explosive blaze of glory, he desperately clings on to his last moments before his body is left, lifeless in the grass.
On the commentary for Logan's Blu-ray release, Mangold himself explained his decision to cut the scene from Logan. He felt that the alternate version would raise more questions than answers, leaving audiences to ask why Wolverine left him behind. He said:
"The tricky thing about it was it felt a little bit to us like they shouldn't leave him there. They should take him with them. Why do they take Charles' body and leave Caliban's body? It felt like it was almost raising more questions. At the same time I felt bad cutting it because I also felt like it gave Stephen's character a kind of farewell."
Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. Caliban's tragic and sudden farewell was a different choice; but for a character who looked, acted and spoke differently, it was also the right choice.
Which version of Caliban's death in Logan do you prefer?