We first had our suspicions that the X-Men wouldn't appear in Wolverine's final venture when we learned that the story would be inspired by 'Old Man Logan,' Mark Millar's seminal comic book series.
In this dystopian future, Spider-Man villain Mysterio ambushed Logan at the X-Mansion, tricking him into thinking that his allies were super villains sent to kill the children. Overcome by a berserker rage, #Wolverine kills each of the 'intruders,' only to discover that the corpses strewn around him actually belong to the X-Men and not the evil villains he thought they were.
Fears that #HughJackman's Wolverine may have followed a similar path in Logan arose when the official trailer was released, containing these ominous words from Professor Charles Xavier;
"Logan, what did you do?"
Did Wolverine kill the X-Men or did his teammates suffer a far more sinister fate?
X Marks The Spot
Our first clue that something went awry comes early on in the film, when Professor Xavier discusses how he took Wolverine and the other X-Men in as family, to which Logan ominously replies;
"They're gone now."
However, further hints begin to suggest that Logan may not be the one who's responsible for the X-Men's absence. Sure, Wolverine can lose control during his berserker rages, but it's Xavier power that begins to cause the most concern. Now suffering from a degenerative disorder, the world's most powerful mind has become far more dangerous than anyone could have predicted.
Old Man Xavier
When Donald Pierce and Logan first meet, the cybernetic villain comments on how Xavier's ailing brain has now been classified as a WMD by the government, before casually remarking that it's a;
"Shame what happened back East."
However, it's not until the Reavers attack in the casino that the true nature of Xavier's degenerative condition comes to the fore. While we'd already seen Logan and Caliban suffer the consequences of what happens when Charles doesn't take his medication, the stress of the Reavers intrusion causes Xavier to melt down completely, paralysing the entire casino in crippling psychic pain.
After the threat has been dealt with, a radio report comparing the casino attack with a previous incident reveals what fans had been dreading throughout the first half of the film — That the former headmaster of Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters is the one who was ultimately responsible for his students death.
The report doesn't last long, but it tells us everything that we need to know, such as how 600 people were paralysed and that several lives were lost, including some of the X-Men. Logan is quick to switch the radio off, unwilling to dig up old wounds, but the casino incident clearly leaves its mark on both him and Xavier all the same.
Soon after, Xavier reminds us of his more gentle past, urging Logan to stop and help a family who are stranded by the road. In return, these strangers offer their home to the unlikely trio, providing Logan, Xavier and Laura with a brief respite while on the run.
In the morning, Charles discusses how his time at the farmhouse gave him the most perfect night that he'd enjoyed in a long time;
"But I don't deserve it, do I? I did something... something unspeakable."
Despite his ailing mental health, Xavier finally remembers how he killed his former family and it's heartbreaking to watch.
"I remembered what happened in Westchester. This is not the first time that I've hurt people. Until today, I didn't know. You didn't tell me, so we kept on running away from it. I think... I finally understand you."
What happens next is a rather torturous form of poetic justice, as X-24, a clone of Wolverine, stabs Charles with a fatal blow to the chest. At first though, neither Xavier nor the audience understand that this isn't our Logan and one can't help but wonder if Wolverine has finally snapped, seeking revenge on the mentor who killed his former teammates.
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While it could have been extremely powerful to see the X-Men die at the hands of their most trusted figure, flashbacks or even a glimpse of their graves may have felt too forced. Logan represents a more mature direction for the franchise and such a subtle approach to storytelling reflects this. It's far more devastating to imagine the attack than actually see it and at the end of the day, this is ultimately Wolverine's story.
Furthermore, by leaving the situation itself open-ended, there's even a chance that some of the X-Men may have still survived...
Should we have seen the X-Men die in Logan?
[Poll Image Credit: 20th Century Fox]