With all the buzz, excitement, and acclaim for the latest Logan movie, it’s difficult not to think about it in conjunction with the many comics upon which it is based. Although the premise of the film is heavily inspired by the alternative universe Wolverine comic book series, Old Man Logan, it is also entirely tied into the universe of the X23 comic books series. What’s so interesting about the conflation of these two books, is how much creative storytelling it required. Within the comic-verse, these two stories are not at all connected and do not even take place within the same universe.
It was clear right from the beginning that the movie couldn’t be very closely linked to Old Man Logan because of the book’s reliance on Avengers characters. Instead, the movie simply borrowed the gritty realism of prominent themes such as regret, family, aging, and mortality. This was all applied to an X23 storyline, that would essentially facilitate the passing of the torch from Logan to Laura (which is, in fact, something that eventually happens in the X-Men comics).
Despite the many differences, it seems unfair to compare the movie to the books. However dissimilar, Logan offers a really powerful way to end Wolverine’s chapter. The film manages to capture the humanity of Logan and Xavier by addressing the one thing that affects all of us – death. So, rather than compare, contrast, and pass judgment, let’s just visit the highlights of the great stories the filmmakers were able to draw upon.
15. Laura Kinney Is Technically Logan’s Twin
In X23, Laura’s origin story, we get an in-depth look into how she was conceived (conceptually, and literally!). While attempting to create a Wolverine clone that could be used as a weapon, the Y chromosome had (after 22 attempts) become too damaged to continue using. As a solution, head geneticist Sarah Kinney figures out that she can do away with the Y and focus on the X, creating a female wolverine. She explains that this would mean the girl would not technically be a clone, but a genetic twin. All the same, it is their best option. The men running the project are not impressed with the idea, but Sarah goes forward with it against their wishes. Her reason – she refused to fail at her task of making a new Wolverine. Even so, Laura is often referred to as Logan’s clone. In the movie, she is simply his daughter.
14. Laura’s Creator Is Also Her Mother
As a punishment for her defiance, Sarah is forced to act as the surrogate mother of X23 and has to carry her to term. Throughout the pregnancy, Sarah is unhappy with the way she is poked, prodded, and surveilled; being treated like a vessel, rather than a person. The program is concerned that she will humanize their weapon by acting as a mother figure, which is exactly what she does. She secretly reads Pinocchio to Laura while she is in utero, and continues to read it to her as she grows up. Sarah tries to hide her affection from the program heads, but they are all very suspicious of her. As she struggles to give Laura a sense of humanity she becomes more and more at odds with herself, and with the monstrous act creating Laura really is. When she is unintentionally killed by X23, she uses her final breaths to name her Laura and say “I love you.”
13. Laura Was A Seasoned Assassin By Age 10
Laura was created for the sole purpose of killing. She was conceived as a weapon, not as a human. Those in charge of her development went out of their way to keep her dehumanized. She was only ever referred to as X23, and the man most directly in charge of her was intent on hurting her as retribution for his father’s death. Her maturation was sped up in order to get adamantium into her as soon as possible, and she was sent out on assassination missions without delay. And she did NOT disappoint. Not only was she trained to fight and to kill, she was trained to manipulate. It became clear almost immediately that there was no task too big for the little wolverine. Even her healing factor is said to surpass Logan’s, making her virtually unstoppable. This is something we definitely see portrayed in Logan.
12. Laura Was Raised Alone
Although the film depicts a cloning facility where assassins are being trained in conditions akin to Dark Angel, in the X23 comics, Laura is initially the only one of her kind. This really helps keep her under the control of her handlers, because she has so few genuine interactions with other people. She doesn’t really understand the concepts of friends, family, or love. 13 years after the success of X23, we find out X24-47 have been being secretly created. Horrified, Sarah gives Laura a mission to kill the brutal project leader, and destroy the clone specimens. Notably, other X-Men comics have revealed that Wolverine has a rather large family, and this extends to Laura, who even ends up taking care of a younger sister at one point. This is very different in the movie, which conceives as X23 as an entire program developed to make little mutant-clone assassins.
11. Laura Kills Her Mother
Despite Laura being raised to be a killing machine with no feelings of her own, it’s clear that there is a spark of humanity in her that is innately empathetic. When she finally is given the order from Sarah to kill her horrible handler, her emotions take over, making it an exceptionally bloody kill. She might as well have said: “this time, it’s personal.” In her rage-state, she also attacks Sarah. This kill is entirely unintentional, and Laura takes it very hard. As Sarah lay dying, she and Laura finally acknowledge one another as mother and daughter. Sarah’s death is therefore pretty close to what we see at the end of Logan between Laura and Wolverine.
10. Logan Becomes Laura’s Father and Mentor
Laura’s origin story was published in 2009, but prior to that, she had already been introduced into the Marvel universe as a teenager. In those teenage years, she was on the run from her creators when she happened upon media coverage about the X-Men and Wolverine. Laura became convinced that Wolverine had something to do with her creation and she set out for revenge. However, Wolverine had been warned of her existence and when she found him, he was able to assure her he was not a threat. He took her under his wing and became a father figure to her – so much so that she took on much of his personality (though the two had always been somewhat similar in attitude). Not surprisingly, she eventually joined the X-Men. Obviously, this is something the movie could not (and will never) develop. So, making her his official daughter instead makes sense.
9. Laura Is The New Wolverine
In 2014, Marvel made the daring decision to kill off one of their long-standing popular characters, Wolverine. The story was handled with a lot of care and dragged out for over two years. First, Logan lost his healing factor, which set him on an emotionally treacherous journey to face his own mortality. After a long action-packed life, his death has been called anti-climactic. His final battle takes place in the Weapon X facility, and although he does manage to save lives before sacrificing his own, it is not an epic hero’s fight. Following his death, a mourning Laura takes it upon herself to become the new Wolverine. Right down to the costume and name, Logan lives on through X23. The All-New Wolverine comic series is ongoing, indicative of Marvel’s desire to move forward while paying tribute to its fallen beloved character.
8. Meanwhile… In An Alternate Universe
The graphic novel series Old Man Logan was developed after Wolverine’s death storyline, and functions as an alternative ending for the hero. Rather than having physically died a mortal death, Old Man Logan refers only to the death of Wolverine – the persona, the X-Man, and the fighter. We are told that Logan hasn’t popped his claws in 50 years since a tragic event drove him to become a pacifist. The world is presented as something of a post-apocalyptic dystopia, wherein Logan is just a simple family man. He lives a quiet life on a farm with his wife and two children, Scotty and Jade. Though there appear to be no superheroes left, there certainly seem to be some villains. Logan’s family is shown to be living in fear and poverty. Despite the fact that Laura does not exist in this narrative, the movie drew heavy yet subtle inspirations from it.
7. There Are Incestuous Hulk Villains
Eventually, it becomes clear just whom Logan’s family fears – the Hulks. Logan is unfortunate enough to live in Hulk territory, where he must pay rent to the Hulk’s kids, who are born of incest (portrayed as violent “hillbillies”) and are exceptionally evil. Unable to afford the rent, and knowing the Hulks will readily kill his family as punishment, Logan keeps his newfound pacifist principles. He refuses to fight back, insists they not call him Wolverine, and takes a beat-down. This scene is echoed in the Logan movie when the family who has taken in Logan, Xavier, and Laura find their power water shut off. The villainous landlords are depicted in a similar manner to the Hulks and prove to be just as vicious. Only in the movie, Logan is anything but afraid of a good fight.
6. Hawkeye And Logan Take A Roadtrip
With all the superheroes are mysteriously dead, Hawkeye and Logan are the last two standing. Hawkeye is old and blind, and though he’s no villain, he’s certainly given into a shadier lifestyle. He shows up at Logan’s and offers him an undefined job that will provide him with the money he needs to get the Hulks off his back and keep his family safe. Hoping it’s not drugs, Logan agrees, and this is the start of an adventurous road trip that facilitates some interesting expositional conversations. We learn that Logan is suffering from PTSD due to something horrible he’s done, and Hawkeye tries to help him let go of it. When the truth is revealed, it turns out Wolverine had a hand in why all the superheroes are dead. This was also emulated to a degree in the movie, with Logan and Charles both aging and taking a necessary road trip that allows us to witness their complicated yet familial bond. Though, in Logan, it is Charles that seems to have the regrettable secret.
There is no Laura in Old Man Logan (though he does have a biological daughter with whom we don’t spend much time). There is, however, another surprise reveal of another superhero daughter – Ashley. She turns out to be Hawkeye’s daughter and Peter Parker’s granddaughter. Like Laura in the movie, her identity turns out to be a little complicated. This isn’t because she’s a secret weapon or trained assassin; it’s because she’s a wannabe villainess. She and Hawkeye seem rather estranged, but he seems to care for her and trust her. The latter turns out to be a mistake, and Logan ends up having to save Hawkeye’s life. Ashley was a fun reveal, but her character was not at all fully-formed, nor did she stick around for long. What’s most interesting is the concept of generational superheroes/supervillains. We get quite a bit of that in Old Man Logan, what with Hulk’s family, Logan’s family, and Ashley.
4. There Are No More Mutants
Within this alternate universe, mutants haven’t been born for over 40 years. Emma Frost (also revealed to be alive, but no longer a superhero) offers haunting words, explaining that while they had for so long thought of themselves as the next step in evolution, the sad truth is that they turned out to be a glitch. The post-superhero world is a grim one; one in which it is every person for themselves. Hawkeye alone shows signs of wanting things to be as they were and seems to feel guilty for letting himself fall so far (the fall here also seems to be an analogy for aging and succumbing to mortal issues such as blindness). Logan, however, seems content to accept things as they are, as long as everyone stops calling him Wolverine. This is one storyline the movie keeps. The absence of natural mutants makes Laura’s appearance on Charles’s radar all the more exciting. She represents new hope for a better tomorrow, though Logan seems less enthused, and altogether apathetic.
3. The Mutant Serum Exists Only As A Concept
The movie Logan focuses on X23, which is not the designation of Laura, but the name of a program that creates test tube mutants and trains them to be assassins. Old Man Logan does hint to something similar – mutant serum. While Logan had been concerned that he was helping Hawkeye move drugs, it turns out to be something far more precious. The serum is supposed to be able to create mutants, thus putting an end to their extinction. Moreover, Hawkeye believes the serum is being used to secretly create a new line of superheroes that will form a new super team. He bargains himself a spot on the team, living out grand delusions of better times. But this comes to a screeching halt when Hawkeye is told that the serum doesn’t exist, and this was just a S.H.I.E.L.D. sting. Reliving the glory days is out.
2. Wolverine Is Back
After an adventure and a half with Hawkeye, being forced to finally pop his claws again to save his friend, and facing a lot of the things he never wanted to – Logan returns home to find the Hulks have already slaughtered his family. It’s the final straw, of course, and with it Wolverine is back. Claws thirsty for evil incest blood, Wolverine sets out to avenge his family. One by one he goes through the Hulks, slicing and dicing them with no remorse. The final battle takes him to the heart of the clan, Hulk himself (who, by the way, is much bigger than he used to be). Wolverine proves that he is his old self, the anti-hero who never backs down, and sets loose on the Hulk. After being devoured and taking Hulk down from the inside, Wolverine settles the score by taking the youngest of the Hulks. In the sweetest revenge, he will raise this Hulk to be one of the good guys.
1. The Deep Dark Secret Is Revealed
So what was with all the pacifism and PTSD, anyways? In the movie, Charles is shown to have a deep regret that is a secret Logan is keeping for him, and from him. To spare Charles the agony, Logan is protecting him from the truth so that he might have a chance to live out his final days in peace. But peace doesn’t come so easy, and Charles seems to know more than Logan hopes. All the same, we never find out exactly what happened – just that people were hurt as a result. In Old Man Logan, the burden is all Logan’s to bare. In a touching moment that brings him and Hawkeye closer, he finally reveals the truth. While at Professor X’s school, the X-Men came under attack by Mysterio and a band of supervillains. Logan was left on his own and fought tooth and nail to protect the children. He clawed every last bad guy apart before the illusion lifted. Mysterio had tricked Logan into killing his own. And that bore a grief that killed and buried the mighty Wolverine.