[Warning: Spoilers lurk within. Not huge, twist-revealing spoilers, but an exploration of one small plot point. Proceed with caution.]
Logan promised to be a tonic for all the lighthearted, CGI-heavy superhero movies, a sombre no-holds-barred examination of the toll mutant abilities takes on people, and an exploration of a world biased against mutants. Now that it's released, we can safely say that director James Mangold achieved his goal: Logan truly is a refreshing and groundbreaking take on the genre.
One of the most interesting things about the movie was how it presented the future of mutantkind — after years of struggling to achieve an equal standing in society, it turns out that mutants are almost extinct. But why?
Mass Forced Sterilization
We said it was no-holds-barred. As the villainous Dr Zander Rice reveals to #Wolverine, mutants were systematically wiped out with a brutal efficiency — a mutation-suppressing drug was administered through food and drink, resulting in no new mutants being born in 25 years. Set in 2029, this means that the US government started this sterilization process around 2004, when the first X-Men trilogy is set.
This is essentially genocide, although apparently no people were killed in this process, it's definitely not ethical to just remove a part of someone's genetic identity. And if mutation really is "the next step in human evolution", then Rice just shot all of humanity in the foot.
The reason for this? Power. As Rice explains, this entire procedure was carried out so that the only mutants that exist are the ones the government control — the mutant children created as part of the Weapon X program. Laura Kinney is one of these children, and as Logan's genetic daughter she shares his abilities.
The plan for these young mutants is to turn them into soldiers, allowing the US government to get a leg up on every other nation in the world. However, when we start to think internationally then the cracks begin to show. Was this sterilization process carried out only in the USA or across the world? If it was just the USA, then mutants do still exist in every other country.
Unfortunately, Logan just throws this in as a plot point, rather than exploring it in depth. This leaves us with plenty of unanswered questions, especially in regards to the rest of the world — did the US government work with other governments to erase mutants? And then of course we're left wondering how many older mutants there are left in the world, but from what Logan and Caliban say to each other it seems that many of them have gone into hiding or died of natural — or unnatural — causes.
In any case, the sterlization is a fascinating development of the theme of mutants being ostracized in society, and it hearkens back to real life — as people across the world still suffer from this kind of vicious oppression. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the mutant sterilization in Logan is that ordinary people just don't seem to care. It seems that mutants — and the X-Men, who seemed to be a popular enough superhero team to warrant merchandise — were a mere passing curiosity.
This kind of grounded yet terrifying commentary is typical of Logan, which presents us with a quietly dystopian future that nonetheless seems very realistic, and it's a welcome return to the mutant rights issues that the original X-Men movies dealt with.
Tell us in the comments: What did you think of Logan?