Warning: major spoilers follow for Logan.
Logan has arrived, and it is every bit the gut-wrenching, ultra-violent end to Hugh Jackman's character that fans were hoping for. Equally fitting was the finale given to Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier. As it turns out, Logan was a swansong for more than one X-Men universe actor; Stewart confirmed it would also be his final performance shortly before Logan's release.
Both men deliver their career-best work in Logan, although arguably Xavier has the most tragic arc. While we're quite used to seeing Charles in peril or being injured (and even killed in X-Men: The Last Stand), it is jarring and disturbing to see the Xavier delivered to us in Logan.
This is a man who is a shell, both trapped in and no longer able to control the most powerful mind on the planet.
Xavier Has Lost Control Of His Powers
Logan's 2029 setting is notable for its absence of mutants; indeed, seemingly only Caliban, Logan and Xavier remain in North America. They eke out an existence just over the Mexican border, with Caliban playing caregiver to an increasingly frail Charles, while Logan works as a limo driver to afford Charles's required medication.
We see early on what happens if Charles doesn't get his meds. Caliban alludes to nearly being killed — which, with Merchant's odd West Country delivery, seems like an exaggeration or a joke. We later find out that Caliban was, unfortunately, deadly serious.
What Happened In Westchester
The Westchester incident is mentioned several times throughout the film, most notably on a radio news report that Logan turns off just before confirming what many had suspected since the early trailers: Charles accidentally killed the X-Men.
Of course he didn't mean to do it — his seizure caused their deaths one year earlier — but, towards the end of his life, he certainly feels that he committed a terrible evil.
There's clear parallels between Charles's deteriorating mental state and Logan's waning physical health. Where Logan self-medicates with alcohol, presumably Charles felt that he knew the best way to deal with his failing mind prior to Westchester. Indeed, Xavier has never been the type to seek help; he is a man people come to for help, and he approached it much like a problem his students would face. But he underestimated the problem.
One night in Westchester, Charles had his first "episode": a violent schism of the mind that unleashed his power unfiltered, unchecked and untargeted on all of Westchester, human and mutant alike. He alluded to this possibility when Cerebro was first introduced in X-Men (2000) and expanded upon in X2 (2003) — that if he wanted to kill every mutant or indeed human, he was able to. His values, control, and ultimately his sanity prevented that.
The news report mentions 600 people died or were paralyzed. Not all of them would have been mutants at Xavier's School for the Gifted; the majority were probably just people who lived nearby. The sad truth is that the X-Men were wrong to trust their own founder; in the end, Charles was simply the detonator of a bomb that destroyed his dream.
However, Logan is able to power through Charles's episodes and continue to fight — this is, of course, due to his healing factor, which is why he survived the Westchester incident.
The Westchester incident also neatly explains why Xander Rice & co are so desperate to kill their subjects: mutants are now considered extinct, and new ones would now be feared more than ever and hunted. If one who didn't mean to kill can wipe out so many innocent people, what would those trained to kill be capable of?
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The most poignant moment of the film is Charles's confession to Logan — or someone who appears to be Logan — which lets us see the real tragedy of Charles Xavier. He killed everyone he ever cared about in a heartbeat, as his mental strength gave out. One act, one second, can wipe out a lifetime of good deeds... whether intentional or otherwise.
Ironically, Logan learns the opposite lesson through his connection to Laura: a lifetime of killing and being all for yourself can be forgiven in a moment of sacrifice.
Logan is indeed the most tragic of the X-movies, but no one can say the characters didn't see it coming. Charles warned us in that first X-Men movie that it could happen; the biggest danger to the X-Men was Charles all along, not Magneto or Apocalypse. Charles was able to avoid that inevitability until, like an old dog that unexpectedly bites, he couldn't control it any longer.
Do you feel pity or anger for Professor X over what happened? Talk about it in the comments!