Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final movie as Wolverine, is more gritty neo-Western than typical superhero blockbuster. Befitting the seriousness of the film, it doesn’t have many comic book easter eggs … except for comic books themselves.
Set in 2029, director James Mangold’s movie sees a weakened, defeated Logan living in a dilapidated house in Mexico and working as a limo driver. Wolverine has retreated from the public eye and has become almost a mythic figure, thanks to the X-Men comic books that now tell tall tales of his exploits. It’s the rare meta reference for the film franchise and one that almost didn’t happen.
Light spoilers for Logan below
“That was something that happened very late in the writing process,” production designer François Audouy tells Inverse. “Jim had this wonderful idea of creating sort of a meta crossover where the comic books actually exist in the world of Wolverine, which I thought was really wonderful. It gave us an opportunity to actually put a nod to the comic books into the film.”
The movie itself is loosely based on the “Old Man Logan” comics arc, which differs from the books shown onscreen. The movie’s meta books are not real published X-Men comics, but the art department spared no expense in making them look real. They even brought in famed artist and former Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada to draw them, which lent automatic authenticity.
“I just really wanted to make sure that they were accurate and real as possible, and then once Joe had the right people involved, he just kind of took it over,” Audouy, who also designed the 2013 film The Wolverine, says. “He worked on the many iterations it had to have because it had to tie in with the location that I found in the end of the movie that’s Eden, where the kids are hiding out.”
The movie’s comic tells the story of a trip to a lush, heavenly safe space just south of the U.S.-Canadian border, where persecuted mutants can rest easy. A young girl named Laura, on the lam from the scientists that imbued her with mutant powers, shows the book to Logan; he scoffs at it, suggesting that the comics are filled with lies and exaggerations. But, as Audouy indicates, Logan is wrong about Eden being a mere fantasy — even if it doesn’t quite aesthetically match up to what’s shown in the book. Instead, it’s more low-rent Neverland than biblical paradise.
“What we did in the art department is we designed this Marvel-esque spectacular sort of hideout that was drawn in the comic book, and then when Logan actually shows up there, it’s just a fire lookout on a cliff,” Audouy explains. “So the comic was designed specifically for the location and the camera angles that we were going to be using.”
One thing Logan is right to scoff at when shown the comics: Wolverine’s wardrobe. Not once during his nine outings as the ageless mutant did Hugh Jackman wear that ridiculous yellow and blue spandex outfit.
“The costume is something that we sort of struggled with since we did the last Wolverine movie, and over the years, Jim just kind of came to the realization that it’s not within Logan’s character to be wearing a splashy costume that brings attention to itself,” the designer reveals. “He doesn’t take credit for the things that he does, so why would he put on a costume to show the world, to take credit and to bring more attention to himself?”
Logan hits theaters Friday, March 3.