Logan: geeky spots and references guide


This article contains lots of Logan spoilers.

Logan has finally arrived. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, James Mangold and the writers Scott Frank and Michael Green have served up a brutal bloodbath of a movie that still manages to have a heart. It’s by far the best solo Wolverine movie, and it’s been certified fresh among critics. Hurrah!

Part of the brilliance of Logan is how it’s slave to no continuity. There is no post-credits scene and no mid-credits scene, and the stars of the other X-Men films on Fox’s slate are notable only by their absence.

With that separation from the rest of the series comes a filmmaking freedom that’s never been allowed in a Wolverine movie before. You get blood, f-bombs and proper permanent deaths, and a standalone superhero story that film fans can enjoy without an encyclopedic knowledge of the franchise’s past, present and future.

The cameo and the stinger count are both zero, but here is our attempt to wrangle together a geeky spots and nerdy references guide from everything else…

Old Man Logan

It was well documented in the build up to Logan that Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s 2008 comic Wolverine: Old Man Logan had been an inspiration for the movie. And, indeed, you can see a few strands of its DNA in the finished film.

The comics – set in a dystopian future where super-villains run the USA – have an aged Hawkeye encouraging a retired Wolverine to take on one last mission. Hawkeye has a case of super soldier serum that, if it’s transported to the right people, could turn the tide in the very one-sided battle against evil.

The film keeps the barest bones of the story, but copy-and-pastes different characters and ideas over the top. The dystopia of the film is a subtler one, where Zander Rice and the US government have wiped up random mutancy using soft drinks and breakfast cereals. Instead of Hawkeye, it’s Professor X that encourages Logan to get off his arse and do something helpful. And instead of super soldier serum, it’s Wolverine’s daughter that needs to get from A to B.

The comic also features the Venom symbiote, the Red Skull, the Hulk and all manner of things that Fox doesn’t have the film rights to. But still, if you squint, you can see how Old Man Logan influenced the final Wolverine movie.

The Westchester incident

Westchester, of course, is the location of Charles Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. A couple of times in the film, it’s alluded to that Charles had a seizure in Westchester and accidentally killed a number of the X-Men, explaining why there only seems to be two of them left. First we hear a radio report, and later Charles remembers what happened before being stabbed by X-24.

In the Old Man Logan comics, it was Wolverine and not Charles that accidentally murdered the X-Men. Therein, Mysterio cast an illusion causing Logan to believe that villains had invaded the X-Mansion. As he is wont to do, Logan brutally murdered them. Then the illusion ceased, leaving Logan to realise that he’d actually killed his nearest and dearest friends.

The omnipresent adverts reading ‘Hypno’ had me thinking that the film might follow a route like this, revealing that hypnotism or trickery of some sort had lead to the X-Men’s downfall. I was wrong on that one, though: it was Charles, and the weapon of mass destruction inside his head, that ended the X-Men.

Similarly, the billboards reading ‘Mag’ made me think that Magneto might show up, but again I was proven wrong on that one. The weird soft drinks advertised and mentioned throughout the film were all part of Zander Rice’s clandestine quest to stop random mutancy.

X-23 and X-24

As everyone knew in the build up to Logan, Dafne Keen’s Laura was a clone of Wolverine. In the film itself, the files from Zander Rice’s facility even give Laura her official codename/designation thingy from the comics: X-23.

Interestingly, as the comic book canon stands at the moment, the original Logan has died and X-23 has taken over the Wolverine mantle. It remains to be seen if this will happen in the movie universe, but if Logan makes bank is seems certain we’ll see Dafne Keen’s claws again.

X-24, on the other hand, is a new creation for the film. There has been no shortage of evil Wolverines and Wolverine clones in comic book history, but none with that designation.

“The Statue Of Liberty was a long time ago.”

“They’re waiting for you at The Statue Of Liberty,” says Charles, early on in Logan. He’s referring to a local motel named after the iconic landmark, where Laura and Gabriella are hiding from The Reavers (who also come straight from the comics, by the way).

“The Statue Of Liberty was a long time ago,” Logan replies, misunderstanding the situation, believing that Charles is talking about the climactic battle of the original X-Men movie from the year 2000. Therein, Jackman’s Wolverine helped stop Magneto from mutating a bunch of politicians in a battle atop Lady Liberty.

Logan’s line about the statue confirms that he remembers the incident, despite the fact that the events of the original X-Men trilogy were effectively removed from the canon during Days Of Future Past. Whether or not Charles would remember it is a whole other matter, which the film wisely doesn’t get bogged down by.

Charles also mentions that Logan had “a promising career as a cage-fighter” before he joined the X-Men. This, of course, we glimpsed at the very start of that first X-Men film. This either means that Charles remembers the events of that movie despite the timeline changing in Days Of Future Past, or that, even though the timeline changed, things still played out in a similar way.

Alkali (Lake) and Weapon X

“Shit,” remarks Logan, near the start of the film, when he turns over Donald Pierce’s business card and sees the word ‘Alkali’ embossed on it. He’s got good reason to be wary: in X2: X-Men United, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: Apocalypse, it’s established that William Stryker conducted experiments on James Howlett at a facility named Alkali Lake. In every available timeline, ‘Alkali’ is bad news.

Towards the end of the film, it’s revealed that Logan’s fears were well founded. “I believe you knew my father, on the Weapon X programme,” says Zander Rice. Weapon X, of course, was the name of the research program based at Alkali Lake. All these years later, Weapon X just keeps coming back to haunt our hero.

In a rather blasé fashion, Logan remarks that he thinks he killed Rice’s father. There has never been a character explicitly named Rice in any of the previous films, but Logan has butchered plenty of unnamed Alkali Lake employees in both timelines. Any one of them could’ve been Rice’s old man, making Logan’s remark a fair assumption.

Fun fact: Zander’s dad in the comics is named Dale Rice, and he did indeed work on Weapon X.

The adamantium bullet

It’s established early on that Logan has been holding onto an adamantium bullet. He later says his reasons for this are twofold: he’s kept it as a reminder of what he is, and he’s been thinking about blowing his brains out with it, in the hope of killing himself.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is where you’ve seen adamantium bullets before. Stryker put a few of them in Wolvie’s head, right at the end of the film, resulting in the memory loss that Logan was suffering in the original X-Men. Indeed, the lore established in Origins is that Logan’s brain could recover physically from an adamantium bullet shot, but his memories could not be regrown.

Logan himself doesn’t know that, though, so his belief that the bullet could be used to kill him is another fair assumption. However, it did surprise me when putting an adamantium bullet into X-24’s head seemed to do the trick of killing him. This is the X-Men franchise we’re talking about, though: continuity isn’t exactly its speciality. Or maybe X-24’s healing just works differently to Logan’s?

Another fun fact: the idea that the adamantium in Logan’s body has been slowly poisoning him is another idea lifted from the comics. Therein, when he had the metal removed, his healing factor became far stronger.

“You’re thinking of someone else”

When Pierce first gets his mitts on Stephen Merchant’s Caliban, the former remarks that the latter used to work with the government, helping to track down other mutants.

Caliban says, “You’re thinking of someone else,” which may or may not be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that another version of Caliban appeared on our screens just last year (admittedly, this ‘reference’ might be a bit of a stretch).

Tómas Lemarquis played a not-from-the-Midlands iteration of Caliban in X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s up for debate whether he and Merchant are actually meant to be playing the same character. Personally, I don’t think they are. Maybe Pierce really was thinking of someone else?

The katana and the classic costume

In the room where Caliban and Logan chat near the start, a katana sword can be seen in the background. This is a reference to Logan’s Japanese adventure from The Wolverine, which was also directed by Logan’s James Mangold. So, despite the timeline being altered by Days Of Future Past, it still looks like Logan went to Japan.

We also see an action figure and several comic book illustrations displaying Wolverine in his classic yellow costume. This, famously, showed up in a deleted scene from The Wolverine. Therein, Logan raised an eyebrow the idea of wearing such a thing. He seems even less impressed by his comic book depiction, describing the whole enterprise as “ice cream for bed-wetters.”

“You want to die”/“Bad shit happens to people I care about”

These lines aren’t exactly references or Easter eggs, but they draw on the thematic through-lines of the franchise. The idea that Wolverine longs for an ‘honourable death’ and fears that anyone who gets close to him will die were touched upon rather a lot in The Wolverine.

There were no Famke Janssen dreams this time, or overt references to The Last Stand (the running in the woods almost gave me flashbacks, though), but Logan is still hesitant about letting anyone new into his life.

One thing I did notice in Logan: echoing the barn-based scenes from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the entire family that befriended and fed Logan ended up dead within 24 hours.

Rictor

As we’ve touched upon in our ‘questions answered’ article, one of Laura’s peers from the Alkali facility shares a name with a comic book character. Rictor is one of The New Mutants and a member of X-Force, in the comics.

The Rictor in Logan doesn’t have much in common with the comic book one, though. They’re both Mexican, but Rictor in the comics can release seismic earthquake energy from his fingertips. None of the young mutants at the end had that power, as far as I can remember.

When the DVD comes out, there might be some other Easter eggs to be found by pausing on Zander Rice’s files. I didn’t spot anything at the cinema, though.

Fun fact the third: Rictor, in the comics, is one of the few out gay superheroes in the Marvel Universe.

Some (but probably not the) new mutants

The creation of ‘new mutants’, for the first time in years, was a big part of Logan’s plot. And at the end, this gaggle of youthful heroes managed to escape into Canada. If Fox wanted more from Dafne Keen and James Mangold, this would be the place to pick up with them.

But don’t be fooled: although this group is clearly a collective of new mutants, they’re probably not the New Mutants from the upcoming movie The New Mutants. Josh Boone of The Fault In Our Stars is working on that one, and the inherited wisdom is that it will be set in the James McAvoy as Professor X era. This ‘continuity’ isn’t getting any easier for casual viewers, is it?

If you spotted something we didn’t, please do pop it in the comments…



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