Logan is an important film for the X-Men universe. The real-world repercussions are evident; Hugh Jackman will be hanging up his claws after this film. It may even be the last time we see Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. But what about the in-universe effects of Logan? How does this film fit with the rest of the X-Men film world? Does it even fit? And what will Logan do to the timeline? We’ve got you covered so let’s dig into the wonderfully messy world of superhero continuity.
When/Where Does Logan Take Place?
Director James Mangold has confirmed some information about Logan that sets up some interesting story possibilities. The film is set in the year 2024, one year after the future events we saw in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Seeing as how that film reset the timeline for a much happier ending, it's pretty clear that Logan does not take place in the same universe as the now revised X-Men timeline. Jackman himself has said that Logan takes place in "a slightly different universe." We'll talk about why that's crucial in a bit, but right now let's focus on the source material Logan is drawing from in order to paint a clearer picture.
The limited comic series "Old Man Logan" was a grandiose "What If?" story that took place in a world where supervillains had conquered the United States. The remaining heroes have gone into hiding including a grizzled Wolverine who has settled down with a family and refuses to ever use his claws again. The story takes a very Western approach to Logan -- Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven is a big influence -- and is allowed to break from a lot of conventional Marvel storytelling in terms of tone and character. It's here that "Old Man Logan" holds a lot of sway over the approach to Logan and gives us some insight into how the film will affect the rest of the X-Men film series and its timeline.
Continuity Limits Creativity
The realm of comic books thrives on continuity but that line of thinking can be a problem. It's why the big comic book houses always have to have some major event that acts as narrative housecleaning every couple of years. We haven't quite reached that point with the Marvel Cinematic Universe films but the X-Men movies have. They've never been quite as beholden to their continuity as other competitors but there has been some semblance of a connected story. As the series has gone on, it's been harder to line everything up. Hell, Deadpool took a great jab at this very problem and it never fails to get a laugh.
Hugh Jackman obviously became aware of this problem and addressed it when the time came to make Logan:
"[Logan is] a stand alone movie in many ways. It’s not really beholden to time lines and story lines in the other movies. [Following the timelines] becomes a chess game that you try to serve, which actually doesn’t help to tell a story and it’s sort of been a bit all over the place."
Taking inspiration from "Old Man Logan" also meant deciding to set things in a separate world where the narrative would be allowed to function without worrying about how it connected to everything else. But that doesn't mean that Logan isn't going to have a significant effect on the way X-Men films -- and the relevant timeline -- are now going to be shaped.
"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose."
Logan -- and to another extent Deadpool -- is experimenting with what audiences will accept when it comes to alternate timelines. While Logan may not be directly tied to other X-Men films, it certainly is making a statement: We're taking Hugh Jackman on one last adventure and it's going to be the exact movie we want to make. By freeing themselves of any fealty to established lore, Logan has the opportunity to be a movie that stands on its own while still using what fans know and love from previous films to enhance the story.
And if this gamble pays off, the X-Men films might be able to openly create more movies that are focused on being true to themselves rather than syncing up with a whole series of other stories and characters. The superhero landscape has become incredibly crowded and DC is proving that not everyone has the right vision for a serialized film universe. If people respond to Logan the way they have to Deadpool, we could see the X-Men timeline become even more malleable. In all honesty, that's the best possibility I've heard in a long time. Fans don't just want cameos from characters and an overarching story that spans multiple different movies. They want movies that are faithful interpretations of the characters they know and love. If Logan can open the door for more films like that, then its importance to the X-Men timeline will be invaluable.