As Marvel fans undoubtedly know, the film is very loosely based on Old Man Logan, an eight-issue 2008 miniseries by writer Mark Millar and artist Steven McNiven.
The film distills the Old Man Logan story to its essence: Logan, long retired from crimefighting in a dystopian future bereft of fellow superheroes, embarks on a hazardous road trip with an old friend — a journey of self-discovery in which tragedy spurs a renewed sense of purpose. Framed as a postmodern Western, the hyperviolent comic plays with the ideas of family, heroism, justice, and redemption.
The critically lauded R-rated film is much starker and leaner than the comic. “Clearly we drew a lot of inspiration, not only from Old Man Logan, but other sources,” director James Mangold told Moviefone.com. “I think the idea that I wanted to explore further was the idea of being in kind of twilight, of being over it, of losing faith,” he said, noting he relied on Millar and McNiven’s work for “a sense of place and setting.”
Here’s a look at how Logan converged with — and diverged from — the Marvel source material. (Beware, spoilers ahead!)
The comic takes place in an alternate universe, in a future where nearly every superhero has been slain. Logan is a broken man, eking out life as a California farmer with his wife and two young children, with no desire to relive his X-Men gory days. But he struggles to support his family and keep up payments to his landlords — the Hulk Gang, the unhinged offspring from an incestuous liaison of Hulk and She-Hulk. So when now-blind Hawkeye shows up and offers to pay big bucks, the strapped Logan reluctantly agrees to accompany the former Avenger on a cross-country trip through hostile territory to deliver a mysterious package to the city of “New Babylon” (the former Washington, D.C.).
In the film, the retired Logan (Jackman) works as a chauffeur to earn money to support himself and the lone surviving mutants, a dementia-addled Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who helps Wolverine care for the professor. Wolverine and Xavier embark on their road trip to deliver Logan’s clone-daughter Laura (Dafne Keen) to a safe zone near the Canadian border.
The Death of Superheroes
The book is set in the aftermath of a superhero holocaust: Led by Red Skull, the entire roster of Marvel supervillains decide to team up and murder their archenemies. Wolverine, under the sway of Spider-Man’s mind-twisting rogue Mysterio, believes his fellow X-Men are bad guys invading Professor X’s school, and he winds up slashing them all to bits before he comprehends what he has done. This drives him to suicide, but due to his uncanny healing factor, he can’t kill himself. He ultimately goes off the grid and settles down, but remains haunted by his actions and vows never to use his powers again, keeping his claws sheathed for decades.
In Logan, Xavier refers to an “incident in Westchester” in which it’s implied that the mutant mentor, suffering from dementia, unwittingly killed his students (one of the villains notes Xavier’s brain has been classified a “weapon of mass destruction”) and triggered a backlash against the X-folk. Meanwhile, there is a black-ops team that has been hunting down the surviving mutants and harvesting their DNA for experiments.
As Logan and Hawkeye tool across the States, we discover that the country has been carved up into different dominions by various villains, including Red Skull ruling Washington, D.C., Doctor Doom dominating a slice of the Midwest, the Kingpin lording over the Rocky Mountain states (after defeating Magneto), and the twisted Hulk family controlling California. Various other baddies pursue the duo at various points in their journey.
Logan strips away all the larger-than-life foes; instead, the trio of Wolverine, Charles, Laura find themselves chased by the mutant-hunting minions of Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant), the man attempting to create his own army of genetically modified metahuman weapons, led by the fearsome X-24, a savage clone of Wolverine (also played by Jackman).
In the comic, we finally learn that Hawkeye’s top-secret package contains vials of super-soldier serum, which he believes will be used to create a new team of Avengers to fight back against the oppressive regime of Red Skull and pals. But Hawkeye has been set up; he and Wolverine walk into a trap and are gunned down by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents working for the government.
In Logan, Wolverine manages to reunite Laura and her fellow young mutants, who escaped Price’s clutches to a redoubt near the Canadian border.
The Turning Point
In the comic, after Logan and Hawkeye are riddled with bullets, they’re body-bagged and dragged into Red Skull’s trophy room (which contains prized artifacts of other slain heroes). Logan’s healing ability kicks in, and he’s finally roused to action, decapitating Red Skull with Cap’s shield. He dons Iron Man’s armor and flies back to California, where he discovers his family had been killed by the Hulk Gang. That pushes him over the edge and he finally unleashes his claws and seeks revenge.
In Logan, following the murder of Xavier and an innocent family by X-24, Wolverine realizes Laura and the new mutants are being tracked by his clone self. He injects himself with a dose of Rice’s secret sauce that briefly amps up his power, and he goes full berserker to save his daughter and her friends.
After eviscerating the younger members of the Hulk Gang, Old Man Logan goes after the big green guy, a vicious monster in this alternate universe. After an epic battle, Hulk swallows Wolverine whole, believing he has won. After a beat, Logan slashes his way out of Hulk’s stomach, kidnaps the infant Bruce Banner Jr., and literally rides off into the sunset, ready to hunt down the rest of supervillains.
The film, meanwhile, sees Logan defeat X-24 with the help of Laura. Our hero, however, has been impaled on a tree and, having effectively OD’d on the mutant juice, is unable to heal himself. He dies, leaving Laura and her friends poised to become the next group of X-Men.
Watch: Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart Break Down ‘Logan’ Spoilers: