Adaptation Comparison: Old Man Logan & Logan

The Book

Old Man Logan is a graphic novel published in 2008, written by Mark Millar and illustrated by Steve McNiven. This story is about a post-apocalyptic world in which the Super Villains have wiped out all of the heroes and taken over the world. The Wolverine has long since retired and is living on a farm with his wife and two kids, adopting the name Logan and trying to forget his past entirely. He lives in California, or Hulkland as it is now called, since it is run by Bruce Banner and his inbreed family. When Hawkeye comes to visit Logan and offer him a job, the two set out across the country in Spider-Man’s dune buggy to deliver something to the East Coast. Logan at first was hesitant to accept the job since he swore to never hurt anybody ever again, but Hawkeye promises that no violence will occur, and the two start their adventure.

One thing that surprised me about this in both good and bad ways was how referential it was to other comic book superheroes. I grew up and still live on the Marvel films from Disney, Sony and Fox, which are all very separate entities. Sony owns Spider-Man and related villains and supporting characters, Disney owns most of the Avengers and other related properties, and then Fox owns Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men. So, reading a Wolverine comic and reading about and seeing characters like Red Skull, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Loki, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, Hulk, etc. was a very cool albeit strange occurrence. The only drawback of mentioning so many characters was that this book too often felt like it was dropping names for the sake of dropping names. Maybe I’m just not well-enough-versed in the graphic novel world, but on every page Millar would mention another hero, even if just very briefly which made a lot of the dialogue extremely exposition-heavy, which bogged down the story a bit. Also, I was not expecting the novel to be such a fantasy instead of just sci-fi; apparently, there are humanoid creatures living beneath the surface of the Earth that will rise once the human population reaches 8 Billion, and these creatures will help lower the population back down to reasonable numbers. These “Moloids” are a cool idea but we never really see them in the story up-close, only in passing or every once in awhile from a distance.

Having seen the other X-Men films, I can tell that this style of Wolverine was something that the studio has wanted to do but wasn’t able to as it would push the rating too far. This version of Logan is an absolute bad-ass; he is a no-holds-barred killing machine, but before that happens, he is a calm pacifist who seems absolutely torn about something that has happened. Later on in the story, it is revealed that the reason he left and retired was that he killed too many people. Actually, when the Super Villains were planning to rise, Mysterio tricked Logan into thinking the X-Men were Villains and forced him into killing them all. So, Logan helped the Villains take over the world by killing dozens of his closest friends and allies which explains why he is so hesitant to fight anybody. Having Logan being beaten and battered is great for the hero as it adds an extra layer of depth to somebody who many think is nothing but a savage animal. In fact, having him being beaten and battered not only physically but emotionally does even more for him than I expected to see.

The story made a lot of sense for the character but had a lot that I wasn’t expecting to see, such as Hawkeye’s daughter being Spider-Man’s granddaughter, or Hulk having a family of Inbred hillbillies, or Loki being hundreds of feet tall, or the underground creatures or really anything else unusual. All of these things either had a lot of exposition to explain them, or didn’t but should have. In this way, I think the story was almost too outside-the-box to be effective for its relatively short length. Focusing on just Logan in his old and broken state would have made the novel more successful in that right. I do like how in the end, instead of killing Hulk’s youngest baby as the Hulk family killed his, he adopts the child and will raise it as his own which adds some poetic justice to the story that was good to see in Logan’s character. That plot point just further emphasizes that he’s less of a savage and more of a man with the capability to do crazy things when he feels the time is right. The illustrations here were incredible in every panel; when not much was going on, we’d see great pastel skies and calming landscapes but in other scenes, we’ll see detailed blood flying and intestines pouring out of foes. These juxtaposing styles both represent the character very well as Logan is the calm, introspective retiree we see at the beginning and Wolverine is the murderous maniac at the end of the story.

The Movie 

Logan is a 2017 superhero film directed by the great James Mangold and stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, and Boyd Holbrook. This story, based loosely on the Old Man Logan graphic novel, is about an aged and retired Wolverine who is living a quiet and simple life in the future when all is disrupted by a young girl with qualities strikingly similar to his own. In the graphic novel, everything takes place in an apocalyptic future where heroes have been wiped out by villains and the entire world is a desert. In the film, the mutants have indeed been wiped out by something, but it isn’t stated why; it doesn’t seem like there was an apocalypse, but the movie does take place in a desert which gives off a very Wasteland-ish vibe, and adds to the theme of loneliness and isolation, especially through Logan.

As the title hints, this story does revolve around The Wolverine’s more human side, as he does not go by the name “Wolverine” anymore, but instead by James Howlett, which is a name that the series hasn’t mentioned since 2009’s X-Men Origins: WolverineAn aging Professor Xavier is needing taken care of and is quickly dying due to mental diseases and a weakened physical state. Logan is doing his best to nurse Xavier, but not with much luck on his side; Xavier is having problems that are too great for any one man to fix and this is taking a toll on both characters. When a mysterious young girl, Laura, comes into the story, things change drastically for both of them. Chasing her are waves of bad guys led by an antagonist Donald Pierce who is trying to capture many young mutants that he worked on and helped create. He and his villainous group Alkali made the mutants with the DNA of other mutants, which explains why Laura (aka X-23) has the same qualities of Logan.

Similar to the graphic novel, Logan has a child in the story that he must protect, but the reason for doing so is much different. The graphic novel had Logan and Hawkeye traveling across the country to sell Super Soldier Serum to get money for Logan to pay the Hulk rent for living in his land. In this story, Logan and Xavier are traveling to Eden to deliver Laura to mutant safety so that she can survive as they are dying. In the graphic novel, Logan’s children were the product of him and his wife’s sexual relationship together, presumably. Logan, however, told us that Alkali used his test-tube DNA to make Laura, which means that biologically they are related, but not because of any conceiving on his part. Metaphorically, this emphasizes how un-human Logan is, even though he is trying to live a very human life; things keep coming back to haunt him and require him to be Wolverine instead of Logan. Even though he tries, he is even unable to be “normal,” and that’s exactly what is killing him throughout the film.

Since Disney owns the Avengers and Sony owns Spider-Man, many of the characters in the graphic novel were not in the film. Specifically, Hawkeye was absent which means there had to be a different reason to get Logan out of retirement and that reason turned out to be people trying to capture the daughter that he didn’t know he had and the dying Professor Xavier. In the graphic novel, Xavier was only mentioned by name and is presumably dead already, but he has a large role here; the use of Xavier as an old, sick, and dying old man was a great way to show the generational theme in the film. Logan refers to X-23 (Laura) as his daughter before he knows that it’s true, and refers to Xavier as his father even though he knows that it’s not true. The three of them really feel like a family and seeing them together like that was emotionally powerful after growing up on these films and watching them in theaters over the past decade. Another difference was that the Hulk was absent, as were his inbred family who killed Logan’s family in the graphic novel. Here, we have Donald Pierce and his many thugs coming after X-23; since this takes place in the future West, it does seem sort of post-apocalyptic and these goons often seem as though they could be the people from Mad Max Fury Road

Furthermore, X-24 is a character exactly like The Wolverine except exclusively with the animalistic characteristics and none of the personality that makes Logan “Logan.” The use of this character is great for a few reasons. 1) Having X-24 be a younger version of Logan (similar to how he looked in 2000’s X-Men, 17 years ago) emphasizes just how much Logan has aged over the years and further shows that he really has become an old man, and too old for his own good in the film. 2) He is a great substitute for The Hulk since Fox isn’t able to put him in the story. They both are the same physical threat to Logan, but X-24 in this story also brings an emotional weight into the story that the Hulk most certainly would not have had. 3) He seems to have more in common with Logan’s daughter than Logan does since he has gotten older and weaker over the years. All of those reasons are what help make this film a lot better than the graphic novel, and they all add a layer of intimacy that the source material lacked since it tried to have a much bigger scale than the story should have had. Even this film had the ability to include so many more characters such as Cyclops, Beast, Storm, Jean Grey, Sabretooth, Deadpool, etc. but didn’t because it knew exactly what kind of a story it wanted to tell: one about an aging and dying Logan who has to do one last good thing before he is unable to do anything else. This one last mission involves saving just one life, which he feels he is unable to do since he’s a war machine, built only to take them.

My one single gripe with this film is that it never mentions what happened to the other mutants and superheroes. One a few separate occasions, we get to see an X-Men comic that depicts Wolverine in his classic suit fighting thugs. However, Logan mentions that the comics are all bullshit and that they don’t actually hold any truth; they lie about what really happened in the past, when mutants were there to save the world. The comic itself shows “Eden” but does not show what happened to the heroes, and although something is vaguely hinted at, nothing is outright states. Xavier leads Logan on, saying that he did something “unspeakable” and that Logan can’t be blamed for what happened; whatever did happen made Logan not want to use his claws as much anymore, similar to the graphic novel, but the film never says what actually happened. Not only is this ambiguous, but it’s borderline indeterminate since the film never goes into detail on the past in that regard.

Overall, Logan is an adaptation that was forced to limit itself and did the absolute best job that it could have. Thriving on its intimate story between just three characters, this film is easily the most endearing of the X-Men films, while being the most mature and action-packed as well. Following Deadpool‘s R-rated success, this film was finally able to give us the gory and ultraviolent Wolverine film that we have always wanted and was one hell of a swan song to send off Hugh Jackman’s iconic character with. The Western theme and tone perfectly fit this character, even though they don’t match any other film in this franchise; having Logan being miserable and alone was reminiscent of The Man With No Name trilogy and was a great way to look at this character at the end of his life. The generational elements between Xavier as grandfather, Logan as father, and Laura as daughter work perfectly not only for this story but as a finale to the X-Men series as a whole. The villain was prominent and threatening as himself and also as a tool to bring in other threats for Logan such as X-24 which was the greatest and most threatening villain in the series; not only was he a great physical antagonist but also weighed heavily on the aging theme in the film.

Overall

I’m going to give Old Man Logan 7/10 and a green recommendation and I’m going to give Logan a glowing 9+/10 and a golden recommendation. There are many differences between the two but both of them are about an older Logan who is trying to live a quiet life on the Western front when things interrupt his life and force him to become The Wolverine once again. The graphic novel has many different charaters in every single scene while the film is much more intimate and involving just a few main characters and it definitely works better for the character, the story, and the film as a part of the X-Men series and on it’s own as well. If you’re a fan of great films with powerful stories and fascinating characters, then this is the film for you, and unless you want some background on the story, then you don’t really need to read the source material. However, both the book and the movie are very aesthetically appealing and are definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the character!

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