Logan (2017) Plot & Ending Explained: James Mangold’s “Logan” (2017) set a benchmark for superhero films, which is something we look back on in awe, considering the mind-numbingly dull outputs we receive nowadays. While the R-rated superhero flick isn’t a novelty anymore, “Logan” (2017) had an emotional depth, moral ambiguity, and unforeseeable narrative beats that are rare in a sub-genre that time and again tries to reinstate the all-powerful hero’s supremacy. The revered mutant superheroes had never looked this vulnerable – physically and emotionally – onscreen; or in other words, they were never this human-like, haunted by the past and burdened by guilt and regrets. Therefore, it’s no surprise that “Logan” received a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination – the first for a live-action superhero film. 

Logan’s grim and fatalistic outlook is closer to the Western and Film Noir genre than the self-assuredness of the superhero genre. And Mangold’s revisionist take on superhero movies finds its perfection in Wolverine – a flawed good guy with certain traits of an anti-hero. What if the extraordinary strengths of a superhuman have their limitations? What if this hero goes on a nomadic quest through a decaying near-futuristic world? By posing the intriguing ‘what ifs’  “Logan” (2017) diverges from the superhero narrative by making it more character-driven and less spectacle-driven. It does have extravagant action sequences, but there are no chest-thumping victories here. Because, as in life, things are achieved in the film after significant loss and sacrifice.

Now, let’s take a detailed look at the plot and ending of this finest offering from the superhero genre. Spoilers Ahead. 

Logan (2017) Plot Explained:

Why are there only a Few Mutants in ‘Logan’?

“Logan” opens in 2029 in El Paso, Texas. It’s been twenty-five years since mutants have been born. The reason is the big bad corporation Alkali-Transigen. Transigen has isolated the gene mutation that created the mutants. Once the scientists figured out how to prevent the gene mutation from manifesting, Transigen and other companies were involved in producing genetically modified crops, wiping out the mutant genes, and the birth of natural-born mutants. With every food and beverage intake (replete with genetically modified corn syrup), at least in America, Transigen has gradually put an end to the mutant race. 

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But this is not the only evil being committed by Transigen, which the narrative reveals a little later. Logan, who goes by his birth name, James Howlett, works as a limousine driver in El Paso. His healing ability is deteriorating, and he is also aging. Perhaps the food product he is consuming is wreaking damage to his mutant gene. Yet he can still kick ass and brutally devour the bad guys, as we see in the opening gruesome fight with a Latino gang, who try to steal the limo’s tires. Later, he drives across the border to Mexico to an abandoned smelting plant. 

What has happened to Charles Xavier?

Logan lives there with Caliban (Stephen Merchant), an albino mutant tracker. They care for nonagenarian Charles Xavier, aka Professor X (Patrick Stewart). The all-powerful telepath suffers from a form of dementia, which causes deadly seizures that can paralyze and kill people in the immediate vicinity. Xavier’s degenerative brain disease is the reason why there are no other familiar adult mutants. In a less expository manner, it is later revealed that one of Xavier’s seizures, a year ago, killed most of the X-Men and injured 600 people. It is called “The Westchester Incident.” To quell the seizures, Logan often obtains medication. In fact, due to the destructive nature of Xavier’s seizures, the government has classified his brain as a ‘Weapon of Mass Destruction.’ Hence, it’s clear that the three surviving mutants are also fugitives. 

At a cemetery, while waiting to drive back the funeral-goers, Logan is approached by a woman named Gabriela Lopez (Elizabeth Rodriguez). It looks like she knows his true identity and asks for his help. But Logan asks her to stay away. Subsequently, after illegally procuring the medication for Xavier, Logan comes across Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook). Pierce is a cybernetically-enhanced head of security at Transigen. He leads a force of mercenaries known as the ‘Reavers.’ Pierce asks Logan about Gabriela and says the Mexican woman has something that belongs to Transigen. Pierce also seems to know about Logan’s hideout. The laconic Logan denies any knowledge of Gabriela. 

What does Gabriela Want from Logan?

After getting to the hideout, Logan tries to give the medication to the weary Xavier. But a seizure paralyzes and destabilizes Logan and Caliban. Only Logan can manage to somewhat move during the seizures and inject Xavier to stop the possible catastrophe. Logan needs more money for their eventual escape plan. He plans to buy the ‘Sunseeker,’ a boat in which he and Xavier can escape to the ocean, where the seizures wouldn’t affect people.  

Later at night, Logan goes to pick up passengers at a motel. It happens to be Gabriela, who has a girl with her. She asks him to take them safely to North Dakota, near the Canadian border, particularly to a set of ordinates. Gabriela gives him $20,000 and promises to provide him with $30,000 after finishing the job. Gabriela says her boyfriend and his men are after her and her daughter. Logan reluctantly agrees to the job. But the following day, when he visits the motel, Logan finds Gabriela murdered in her room, and the girl is missing. After taking Gabriela’s phone, Logan drives back to his place, and Caliban finds a backpack and a ball in the limo’s truck. 

Who Is Laura? 

Soon, they encounter Pierce, who asks Logan to give him the girl. While Logan looks confused, Pierce is struck hard by a metal object and falls unconscious. The girl, Laura (Dafne Keen), has stowed away in Logan’s limo. Xavier welcomes the girl, whom he seems to have known from his telepathic abilities. She doesn’t speak and is believed to be mute. The Professor says the girl is a mutant and needs their help. Shortly, Pierce and his Reavers arrive at the place, looking for the girl. In the ensuing bloody fight, it is revealed that Laura has the same abilities as Logan, including regeneration and retractable adamantium claws. 

While Logan, Laura, and Xavier escape in the limo, Pierce captures Caliban. He tortures the mutant and orders him to track his fellow mutants. In the limo, Logan and Xavier look at a video clip where Gabriela has documented what has happened at the Transigen Research facility in Mexico City. On the one hand, Transigen has isolated and eliminated the mutant gene to prevent the birth of mutants. On the other hand, in the name of research, Transigen has been creating and experimenting on mutant kids. The children have been harvested out of Mexican women and injected with DNA collected from the mutants. 

Is ‘Eden’ a Real Place? 

The company aims to create remorseless killing machines under the command of scientist Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant). However, it has been hard to control the children, who have lived their entire lives in a cage. Laura has Logan’s abilities because she is created from his DNA, and so, in a way, she is his biological daughter. The clip also mentions Transigen working on something new – something more efficient and ruthless than mutant kids. Eventually, the research program was shut down, and most of the children were ‘put to sleep.’ Yet, thanks to Gabriela, a few children, including Laura, escaped the Transigen facility. While Gabriela and Laura were separated from other surviving mutant kids, in the video clip, she speaks of a place called ‘Eden.’  

At the end of the clip, Gabriela implores Logan to take his daughter to Eden in North Dakota, situated precisely at the set of coordinates she provided Logan. Xavier, Logan, and Laura arrive at Oklahoma City and stay at a hotel. Subsequently, Logan ditches the limo and buys a car. Sitting at a bar, he goes through the X-Men comic book he found in Laura’s backpack. At the end of the comic strip, Eden is depicted as the safe haven for the persecuted mutants. To his shock, Logan finds that the coordinates of Eden mentioned by Gabriela are the same as the ones in the comic book. 

Logan (2017) Plot & Ending Explained
A still from James Mangold’s “Logan” (2017)

Xavier Saves the Horses

When Logan returns to the hotel, he sees the Reavers swarm the place. Immediately, everyone close to the hotel is paralyzed, a sign of Xavier’s seizure. Only Logan slowly moves past the civilians and the armed Reavers to the hotel room. The armed men are already inside the room. A panicked Xavier has caused the seizure to protect Laura. Logan kills all the Reavers inside the room, who are frozen in their place. Then, Logan injects Xavier to stop the seizure. They escape from the hotel as Xavier feels remorseful for causing pain to many people. Dr. Zander Rice arrives to help Pierce with the mission. 

While traveling on the highway, the news on the radio speaks about 400 people who had temporary paralysis at a hotel. The news report finds parallels to the ‘Westchester Incident.’ In the truck, Logan tells Xavier that the nurse, Gabriela, cooked up the story about Eden. Soon, after a traffic accident, a farmer’s horses escape from their pickup’s trailer. Xavier uses his skills to calm down the horses, preventing them from getting hit. Logan helps the farmer Will Munson (Eriq La Salle) and his family – wife Kathryn and teenage son Nate. 

What happens to the Munsons?

The Munsons invite the Howletts – the old father, middle-aged son, and his daughter – for dinner. Xavier accepts it. After dinner, Munsons asks them to stay the night. Munsons are the only independent farming family as the lands surrounding them belong to the corporates, which grow corn on a massive scale. The corporate enforcers intimidate the Munsons in various ways to make them sell their farm. Will Munson says even the traffic accident isn’t a random occurrence. When Will learns that the water supply to his farm is tampered with, he and Logan investigate it. The enforcers arrive there to threaten the duo. But Logan aggressively drives them off. 

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Back at the Munson home, Xavier sees the silhouetted figure of Logan and says this was the ‘perfect night’ he had in a very long time. Xavier also breaks down as he remembers what happened in Westchester. But the figure is slowly revealed to be a ruthless clone of young Logan, aka X-24. He coldbloodedly kills Xavier, Kathryn, and Nate Munson and captures Laura. Dr. Rice, Pierce, and Caliban observe everything from the surveillance van parked near the Munsons’ house. Just as X-24 leaves the house with Laura, the corporate farm’s enforcers arrive in full force. Mistaking the clone for Logan, they fight and get brutally hacked into pieces. 

Laura and Logan Reach Eden

Logan takes the grievously injured Xavier to the truck, where he dies. An enraged Logan tries to fight X-24. But he is clearly not a match for the clone. When Dr. Rice and Pierce are distracted by the mayhem, Caliban picks up grenades. While the two antagonists escape their deaths, Caliban kills himself rather than endure the torture. X-24 is temporarily impaired by Will Munson, who also perishes soon after. Logan and Laura drive away from the farm. After burying Xavier, Logan passes out due to the injuries. He wakes up in a clinic. The doctor is sympathetic despite knowing Logan is a mutant. But Logan rejects his help and leaves the place with Laura. 

Laura not only knows how to drive, but she can also talk. When Logan tries to tell Laura that Eden is not real, she lashes at him and asks him to take her to her friends. Among the things Transigen people collected from the Munson farm, Pierce finds a photograph Laura had. It’s a photograph of the children at the Transigen. Eden’s coordinates and North Dakota are mentioned at the back of the photo. Meanwhile, Logan embarks on the two-day drive to North Dakota. He looks more sick and nearly incapable of driving. After a while, he passes out. Laura drives the truck. Logan wakes up the following day and sees they have arrived at Eden, a cabin at the top of a cliff. 

Logan (2017) Movie Ending Explained: 

Can Logan save the Mutant Children?

The Transigen children help Logan recuperate as they prepare for the trek across the border. Logan rejects the mutant kids’ offer to accompany them. Laura feels disheartened, and she also finds the adamantium bullet Logan has kept to kill himself. Logan says it’s better for him not to be with Laura since bad things happen to people he cares about. The kids leave at dawn, leaving Logan. When Logan wakes up in the cabin, he sees drones flying towards the border, followed by a group of military vehicles. 

Logan injects the green serum left by the children, which can temporarily enhance his powers. He runs into the woods to help the mutant kids. But the Reavers are already chasing after the mutant kids and capture a few. Laura and Logan kill most of the Reavers. Soon, Dr. Rice arrives at the scene, and Pierce threatens one of the captured kids at gunpoint. Logan encounters Dr. Rice for the first time, whose father, Dale, is one of the co-founders of Essex Corp. Dale was one of the men in charge of the Weapon X program that infused adamantium into Logan’s skeleton. Logan killed Dale while fleeing from the facility. 

The Invincible Hero’s Final Sacrifice

X-24 is, in some way, Dr. Rice’s attempt to get his revenge on Logan for his father’s death. Dr. Rice gives his evil scientist speech about gene therapy and controlling mutants for the betterment of human society. In the middle of his speech, Logan simply shoots Rice in the throat. But Pierce unleashes X-24 upon Logan. While Laura kills the rest of the Reavers, X-24 brutally attacks Logan. Meanwhile, the mutant children come together and give Pierce the sendoff he rightfully deserves. Eventually, X-24 drags Logan after stabbing with the adamantium claws and impales him on a large tree branch. However, Laura finds the adamantium bullet, puts it in the revolver, and shoots X-24 in the head. 

Due to Logan’s deteriorated healing abilities, it seems he won’t be able to survive this. He asks Laura to take her friends and run away. His dying words to Laura are: “Don’t be what they made you.” The man, believed to be immortal due to his potent healing abilities, finally embraces death. Death feels like a liberation for the world-weary Logan, burdened by many regrets and guilt. And he finds his salvation by saving his daughter, Laura, and the other mutant children. The children bury Logan and depart to find a haven across the border. Before leaving, Laura tilts the cross on Logan’s grave to make it an X – a fitting sendoff to the last of the X-men in this narrative.

Does ‘Logan’ Fit in the X-Men Universe Timeline? 

Prior to Logan’s release, director James Mangold mentioned that the film takes place six years after the happy ending of Days of Future Past (2014), which takes place in two time periods: 1973 and a dystopian 2023. In the critically panned post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse, Essex Corps takes Logan’s DNA from the Weapon X facility. But “Logan” (2017) may entirely occur in its own timeline since a natural-born mutant wasn’t born for twenty-five years in this film’s universe. Although there are specific hints to the previous X-Men films, “Logan” isn’t very strict about continuity.

In fact, there’s also a reference to the early X-Men trilogy timeline, as Charles Xavier mentions about Gabriela and Laura waiting for him at the Statue of Liberty. To which Logan says, “Statue of Liberty was a long time ago,” referring to the fight in the first X-Men movie. Actually, Xavier was partially right since Laura and her nurse, Gabriela, were staying at Liberty Motel. There’s also a reference to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) with the adamantium bullet and Weapon X Project. While Logan has kept the backstories of the beloved mutants the same, it has taken creative liberties with the continuity to offer a raw, gritty, yet heartfelt portrayal of Logan’s swansong. It also explains why Logan, aka Wolverine’s inclusion in MCU with Deadpool & Wolverine (2024), doesn’t have to be confused with Logan’s ending. 

What Is the Western Classic Repeatedly Referred to in the Film? 

At the hotel room in Oklahoma City, Xavier watches a Western film on the TV. The Professor says he watched it when he was Laura’s age. The movie Mangold pays homage to is George Stevens’ masterpiece Shane (1953). While Logan’s plotline shares something with films like Paper Moon (1973) and Children of Men (2006), many parallels can be found between “Logan” and “Shane.” George Stevens’ classic is an elegantly shot Western drama about the titular mysterious drifter (played by Alan Ladd), who passes through Wyoming and befriends a farming family of three. Shane is idolized by the family’s little boy, Joey. In fact, it is Joey’s perspective that gives the film its mythical outlook. When a wealthy man and his goons harass the family, Shane rises up to do the right thing. 

At the end of Shane, the protagonist gives a speech to little Joey, where he says, “There’s no living with a killing.” The echoes of “Shane” could be found on many occasions in “Logan” (2017), particularly when the Western Classic’s main storyline is mimicked as Logan and his makeshift family meet the Munson family. However, the violence doesn’t follow any of the conventions of the old Western as the whole Munson family perishes in X-24’s onslaught. At the same time, Logan himself is reflected as a Shane-like figure who is haunted by a lifetime of killing. 

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Moreover, Shane’s speech to Joey finds its counterpart in Logan as our dying mutant tells his daughter, Laura, “Don’t be what they made you.” Eventually, it was kind of an overkill when Laura reads a eulogy for her deceased father, which is from the aforementioned speech of Shane. But on the whole, both the protagonists of Logan and Shane make it clear that a life of violence only leads to agony (though their violent acts are somewhat lionized). 

Watch Logan (2017) Trailer:

Logan (2017) Movie External Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Letterboxd
The Cast of Logan (2017) Movie: Hugh Jackman, Dafne Keen, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Eriq La Salle
Logan (2017) Movie Runtime: 2h 17m

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