Pretty much since Logan was first announced, fans have struggled to work out the film's impact on the overall X-Men continuity. A recent interview with director James Mangold revealed that the film is set in 2029, mainly because Mangold wanted "elbow-room" not to be overly concerned with continuity. Now, though, Hugh Jackman himself has contradicted Mangold — he claims the film takes place in a "slightly different universe" to the main movie continuity!
What's Going On?
The evidence had previously indicated that Logan was set in the post-Days of Future Past timeline. The post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse clearly set up Logan; it gave us a first glimpse of the shadowy company Essex Corp, who were clearly the force behind the Weapon X Project. The movie ended with Essex Corp acquiring Wolverine's DNA, giving them the raw materials to clone Wolverine. As we know, these cloning attempts will lead to the creation of X-23, to be played by Dafne Keen in Logan.
In a recent interview, James Mangold fleshed out the timeline by revealing that the film was set in 2029. He explained:
"There’s an epilogue scene in Days of Future Past which is 2024, or 2023, something like that. I just wanted to get far enough past. My goal was real simple: it was to pick a time where I had enough elbow room that I was clear of existing entanglements."
Surprisingly, though, #HughJackman has complicated the picture a little. Discussing the timeline, he observed:
"When you see the full movie you'll understand. Not only is it different in terms of timeline and tone, it's a slightly different universe. It's actually a different paradigm and that will become clear."
With the Internet buzzing at the news that Logan wasn't part of the same timeline, James Mangold has taken to Twitter to counter Jackman's view.
Fans can be forgiven for getting more than a little confused!
Why Is this Happening?
James Mangold has already explained that he's not massively impressed by the idea of shared cinematic universes. He feels that these restrict a film's creativity, with the writer essentially creating the next episode in an ongoing movie series. On the one hand, Mangold's distaste for some elements of modern superhero franchises seems to be resulting in a uniquely creative and original film. On the other, though, fans have increasingly been concerned about how this movie will fit in with the overarching #XMen narrative.
We already know that Logan is set in a timeline where the mutant race has become almost extinct. This locks the entire X-Men timeline in for a very dark ending indeed, and fundamentally restricts every other X-Men movie. The optimistic ending of Days of Future Past is rendered bittersweet indeed; set just five years before Logan, it's likely the extinction of the mutant race had already begun by that hopeful date in 2024.
There are two ways to resolve this. The first is just to accept that the timeline is, yet again, a mess. In truth, I'm not convinced that Mangold would be too concerned about this; he clearly isn't too enthused about working in shared universes. Hugh Jackman is suggesting a subtly different approach; acknowledge that Logan has enough continuity to be watched in accordance with the other films, but claim a "slightly different" timeline so the impact on the franchise's continuity is lessened. The "slightly" part of that statement means that most moviegoers will still feel comfortable with this latest instalment of the X-Men franchise; the "different" means that Logan's core arc doesn't cause any long-term problems for the main timeline.
This Could Lead to FOUR X-Men Timelines!
Unfortunately, the timeline aspect has often seemed to be more by accident han by intention. In the case of the exciting interested in the idea of a multiverse. This approach means they can explore wildly different timelines, without needing to worry about consistent continuity.
Unfortunately, the timeline aspect has often seemed to be more by accident than by intention. In the case of the exciting Legion TV series, as far back as August 2016, Bryan Singer told fans that the show was "part of the X-Men universe". Incredibly, just last month executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner took a different attitude:
"With ‘Legion,’ we’re our own universe. It gives Noah [Hawley] the freedom to do what he wants to do. Because we play with so many different timelines, and we rebooted and not really rebooted and all that, we felt like, OK, we’re going to throw it out there and hope the fans accept it.”
Hugh Jackman has hinted that Fox may take the same approach with Logan, albeit even more dramatically — it was set up as part of the X-Men post-Days of Future Past timeline, but Fox will make it part of a "slightly different" universe. It's hard not to conclude that Fox views the multiverse as a 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card, explaining away lack of planning and poor continuity.
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Let's be honest; confusing continuity isn't going to affect Logan's box office success at all. The truth is that James Mangold's film is looking set to be an absolute classic, with a unique style and tone. The same is true of Legion, which looks set to be one of the most creative comic-book TV shows to date. So we can expect Fox to continue in this vein; to focus on creative series and movies, not caring much for the continuity. Don't bother trying to fit everything into a timeline; you have no way of knowing whether the continuity will stick!
Do you support Fox's view on the timeline?
(Source: Digital Spy; Poll Image Credit: Marvel Comics)