The X-Men footprint just keeps expanding in TV and film. On FX, the new series Legion gives a darker, more existentially wacky look at mutation than the live-action films have thus far. And in Hugh Jackman's third standalone Wolverine movie, mutation seems to have died out completely, leaving Logan and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) as some of the last of their kind. Logan arrives in theaters on Mar. 3 and is sure to throw fans who are expecting a similar all-hands-on-deck story to 2016's X:Men: Apocalypse. Wolverine has always been something of a loner, but never before like this. So what happened to the mutants before Logan? Mild spoilers ahead!
Logan is based loosely on the Wolverine comic book series Old Man Logan written by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNiven. In the books, there's a heartbreaking reason why the X-Men aren't around anymore. They're dead by Wolverine's hand, because Mysterio created an illusion that they were assassins attacking the mansion.
But wait, you might ask, how can they just kill off all the X-Men? Well, comics have a handy trick for shaking up canon without really shaking up canon. Old Man Logan takes place in an alternate universe called Earth-807128. And Jackman confirmed to Digital Spy that Logan also falls outside of the prime X-Men timeline. "Not only is it different in terms of timeline and tone, it's a slightly different universe," Jackman said. "It's actually a different paradigm and that will become clear."
Logan could put Wolverine in the same position as the comic if it borrows that massacre storyline. Take one look at the weathered, broken Logan in the trailers and it's easy to imagine that he's dealing with guilt and extreme grief. But that still leaves the matter of new mutants. The party line of all the X-Men movies so far is that mutations are a sign that humanity is evolving. And the very definition of evolution is forward motion. Director James Mangold told Comicbook.com that Logan is set in 2029, and a line of dialogue in one of the movie's TV spots indicates that, at that point, no mutants have been born in 25 years.
Something must have disrupted humanity's evolution, and I would guess that discovering what happened to the mutants will be a big part of Logan's plot. It's out there already that there's an organization in the movie that's endeavoring to bring mutants back — on its own terms. Richard E. Grant and Boyd Holbrook play the brains behind Transigen, a company using Logan's DNA to create others like him. That's where X23 — full name Laura Kinney — comes in. Young actor Dafne Keen plays a Wolverine clone who this movie may be queuing up to lead her own franchise.
Though times are certainly tough in Logan, this movie by no means marks the end of the X-Men. A sequel to Apocalypse is in the hopper, as are many other off-shoot projects, including a Deadpool sequel and the long-promised Gambit standalone.