The most recent movie in Fox’s X-Men cinematic universe, May’s X-Men: Apocalypse, presented us with a franchise that felt troublingly aimless. It was filled with halfhearted performances from leads who probably regret signing three-picture deals six years ago, near incomprehensible action set pieces, and Oscar Isaac walking around like an anthropomorphic dishwasher auditioning for the Blue Man Group. Luckily, the next X-installment looks decidedly more focused.
Next March’s James Mangold–directed Logan will be a character piece focused on an aged version of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine (“Logan” being the moniker he went by for decades after a bout of amnesia made him lose his birth name) as he wanders some kind of dystopian hellscape with two unlikely companions. The first trailer for it dropped today, and it’s as grim as it is promising. Let’s examine it fastidiously and see what we can suss out from 108 seconds of Johnny Cash–scored promotional footage.
Before we go any further, we should talk about the comic-book source material, because it plays a recurring role. The movie is going to take significant cues from a famous Wolverine story line published in the late aughts entitled “Old Man Logan,” written by Fox’s Marvel-movie adviser, Scotsman Mark Millar. The comics envisioned a world where baddie Mysterio trapped Wolvie in an illusion that made him think his fellow X-Men were supervillains, leading him to slash them all to death. Once the façade fell away, he was stunned by his grief and regret and attempted to give up fighting forever.
We start out with the titular growler’s bloodied hand a-twitching next to his casually untucked denim button-down. As we’ll see near the trailer’s end, he’s out in the woods with a young companion here, doing something oh-so-terribly sad, though we’re not sure what.
The movie will largely take place in the near future, after some kind of disaster has befallen the world in general and mutants, in particular. Here we see our dude chilling in what looks like a desert of the American West (which is where “Old Man Logan” began, as well), or perhaps Mexico (stay tuned for a hint about that). He’s next to a long-ago fallen water tower, and that structure plays a big role in the rest of the trailer. Are those bullet holes, perchance?
Again, we get Logan in the woods (you can tell it’s him due to the brief little silhouette of his claws). This is a visual cribbed directly from that aforementioned flashback in “Old Man Logan,” wherein he runs away from the scene of his X-crime.
Nothin’ beats booze at a funeral, am I right? Not clear who died here, but the scene looks like it ain’t in the desert, so maybe this is another flashback? Voice-over reveals to us that the mutants are gone, somehow. Well, not totally gone, given that Wolvie, Xavier, and a little baby mutant appear to be around.
Who among us hasn’t felt regret in the bathroom? Our grizzled protagonist gazes at himself in the mirror in a truly filthy privy, his hands stained with blood, and the exit wounds of his claws disgustingly visible. Maybe this comes after he gives up on his pacifism and kills some people for the first time in years?
We seem to be back at the water tower, this time in its interior. Poor old Charles Xavier, erstwhile leader of the X-Men, lies in a stolen hospital bed. The visual of a capacious, circular chamber dotted by little spots of light gives the place the look of a bargain-basement version the high-tech Cerebro technology Professor X used back in the day to detect mutants. Hard luck there, Chuck.
Me before I’ve had my coffee in the morning!
Our first glimpse of Wolverine and Xavier’s co-star, a young’un known in the comics as X-23 (played here by newcomer Dafne Keen). In those pages (and in the X-Men: Evolution cartoon in which she debuted), she’s a female clone of Wolvie, and Charles’s voice-over in the trailer suggests some kind of relationship between the kid and the bearded wonder, though we don’t know if it’s a clone thing or a daughter thing or what. Is she in some kind of homestead that Logan has kept up? Who knows! Good to see that the Kellogg’s corporation is doing well in the dystopian economy, though.
We get a good look at X-23, standing in front of what appears to be a telescope. Astronomy seems like a decent way to pass the time when the world’s gone to shit.
A posse of bad hombres in black SUVs and jeeps heads down the dusty trail. Some of the vehicles look like they belong to the Mexican federales, but as we’ll see later, they belong to a paramilitary group that is either working in coalition with that venerable law-enforcement group from south of the border, or has stolen their trucks.
This swaddled gent is Caliban, an albino mutant who can track other mutants. We first saw an ‘80s incarnation of him in Apocalypse, played by Tómas Lemarquis. Here, he’s played by Stephen Merchant, which sort of suggests that maybe this is a completely different character with the same name, or something? Then again, this is a franchise where Jennifer Lawrence and Rebecca Romijn are ostensibly playing the same person, somehow, so who the hell knows.
Roaaaaad triiiiiip! In “Old Man Logan,” Wolverine’s driving partner was actually Hawkeye, a.k.a. Clint Barton, but the longstanding cold war between Disney and Fox means the latter doesn’t have access to Jeremy Renner’s cocky archer.
As we saw in the opening montage of 2009’s awful first Wolverine solo outing, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the title hunk has served in an array of wars over the past century and a half (his healing factor means he ages very, very slowly). These dog tags are a relic of one of ‘em.
I am so here for Xavier’s retirement-home, suspenders-and-plaid chic.
Here’s one of the villains of the film, Donald Pierce, played the ever-so-handsome Boyd Holbrook. He’s the lead enforcer of a brutal security organization known as the Reavers, and he has a bitchin’ cybernetic arm. In the comics, Donald’s a human head and consciousness in a full-on cyborg frame, so we may be denied a view of Holbrook’s sweet abs.
I assume these are Reavers who are going after some bald guy. One might assume it’s Xavier, but as we see in a few seconds, it seems to be Caliban.
Logan carries his old mentor to his bed, which is very kind, given the latter’s whole paraplegic thing. Looks like Wolvie’s been taking care of the chrome-domed Brit all these years, as well as helping him grow what I hope is medical marijuana.
The Reavers handcuff someone, most likely for torture purposes and not kinky group sex.
The Reavers sport Mad Max realness. Note that one of them is in a Mexican police uniform, deepening our confusion about how the two groups fit together.
Still got it.
What would a movie with Wolverine be without a beclawed shot of him lunging at a guy while wearing a stained wife-beater?
And, hey, X-23’s got some moves, too.
We’re back at that sunlit Caliban torture scene. Maybe the Reavers are using him to track down Xavier, Wolverine, and the kid?
Weirdly, Logan appears to be holding some kind of syringe here, though I could be mistaken. An antidote for a weed overdose, maybe? Don’t do drugs, guys.
A child leaps away from a muscleman and a guy in a white coat. It might be X-23, although this youngster doesn’t have her long hair, so maybe she used to be kept in a lab where they kept her hair short and this is the scene where she escaped?
The most mysterious image of the trailer is one we see for a half second: Who has the second pair of claws? Logan is blocking someone with his scratchers, but it sure looks like his opponent has some, too. Maybe this is a grown-up, evil clone from the facility where X-23 was made?
We’re back at the scene from the first shot, and it’s revealed that Wolverine wasn’t alone during it. He’s holding what looks a hell of a lot like a shovel, and I’ve got this gut feeling that he and X-23 are burying Xavier. The likelihood that that guy lasts the whole movie is basically zilch, right? The duo are seen here going full Léon: The Professional and I am so here for that, though hopefully they’ll eschew that action classic’s supremely effed-up Lolita thing. Hey, this movie actually looks pretty good!