What if The Creeds took the place of the Banner clan? What if Logan’s murdered family was one he made with Storm, and their deaths opened the film as the inciting incident? What if Rogue substituted for Hawkeye, and instead of The Red Skull…it was Dr. Doom who took over and ruined a parallel dimension by enslaving Charles Xavier?
When Hugh Jackman solicited fans for ideas regarding what they wanted out of his final Wolverine film, the call for an adaptation of Mark’s Old Man Logan was rather overwhelming. As a screenwriter, seeing the outcry from the fanbase for that story to make it to screen got me thinking of ways it might be possible to tell an emotionally faithful rendition of the tale despite the various legal entanglements preventing certain characters from appearing.
What I think resonates the most with people about this story is Logan’s arc—from haunted and guilt-ridden pacifist back to vengeful, bloodthirsty warrior, before ending with a moment of redemption and absolution for Logan as he regains his purpose. None of that emotional journey needs to change, but the steps he takes to get there and what elements of a dystopian, Marvel Universe future (the other key appealing factor for most) are explored is the real puzzle.
Whereas the original tale indulged in oddball surprises and call-backs to iconic characters from all over the 616 universe, a final Wolverine film will, instead, need to chiefly serve, reference, and close the narrative threads of the X-Men cinematic world and Logan’s evolution through it. The Old Man Logan story is fitting because the epic nature of the “villains have won,” post-apocalyptic setting helps the audience digest a grander, more emphatic style of storytelling and visual world…which will finally bring an X-Men movie away from the more grounded aesthetic, necessarily established by Singer, and into the heightened, more imaginative reality of the comics, where anything is possible.
It would also be important, given that this will be Hugh’s parting performance, to trade some of the book’s more over-the-top (though very fun) graphic and bombastic elements for something a bit more elegant and dramatically resonant in adaptation. Old Man Logan has its roots in Unforgiven, so hitting that tone shouldn’t be too difficult. The challenge this time around, instead, becomes: what is Logan’s key internal battle?
To me, it would seem obvious. The defining characteristic that has made Wolverine such an
enduringly popular and powerful character to mine through the years is his embodiment of Man’s Duality…is he, in fact, a man, or is he a beast? Is he a slave to his genetic makeup and instincts, the animal so many dismiss him to be…or can he strive to be something better? Can Charles’s lessons and Logan’s interactions with people who finally care for rather than scorn him help him to evolve and finally make peace with his identity? Or will instinct, bloodlust, and that berserker rage ultimately win out?
Somehow, all these questions so essential to this character, the very crux of the Japanese tale, have never been seriously addressed in the films or even ever really articulated. I’d say in his final outing, it would be about time. So, what I’ve come up with attempts to accomplish all of these objectives: giving Logan a compelling, final arc; taking advantage of the alternate-universe setting to surprise audiences with character reveals and a new, larger visual pallet; and, finally, fittingly bringing the lights down on a beloved performance and screen legacy with a resonant and satisfying conclusion.
It’s long, a complete breakdown of the full film, but for those who would like to give it a read, I hope it fulfills most fan desires for an ultimate, rousing conclusion to this immortal incarnation of a very dear character. I hope you enjoy it.
How would you guys do it?