Fans of Marvel’s X-Men films know that mutants are always depicted as societal pariahs, hiding their true natures from the general public. In this year’s Logan, set decades after most natural-born mutants have died, mutants like the X-Men have become something of a legend. Logan, who once fought as Wolverine, works as a limo driver in order to afford Professor Xavier’s seizure medication, and the Morlock Caliban acts as Logan’s begrudging housewife and X’s live-in nurse. As Logan and Xavier remind each other throughout the film, there are no more mutants in the world. But of course, they’re wrong.
Spoilers for ‘Logan’ follow.
In the Marvel universe, the Essex corporation is dedicated to wiping out the mutant gene from humanity. The folks who start Essex believe that mutant-kind is unnatural and should be exterminated, but by the time Logan occurs, Essex has established a lab called the Transigen Project to create new mutants that can be trained as living weapons. The lab hires Mexican teenage girls as test subjects, impregnating them artificially with the sperm of long-dead mutants (or long-thought-dead, in Logan’s case). Their offspring, Laura included, are raised inside the lab by conflicted, empathetic nurses and sociopathic doctors. When the nurses revolt, they allow the mutant test-tube babies to escape.
Transigen has become a public enough presence by the time the film begins that when Logan runs into Donald Pierce, Transigen’s head of security, he gasps upon seeing Pierce’s business card. “Shit,” Logan says out loud, signifying that he knows full well what it means to have Transigen’s eyes on you. What he doesn’t discover until meeting Laura is that the lab’s work has become even more twisted than genocide over the past few decades. The people they once tried to hunt down have become lab rats, and try as he might, even Logan can’t divorce himself from that horror.
In addition to Pierce, we meet Transigen’s top mad scientist, Dr. Zander Rice, who recognizes Logan in the film’s third act. Rice, the head surgeon on Laura’s file, is the son of Dale Rice, who originally experimented on Logan himself. Logan spits the fact that he killed Rice’s father at him, and there’s a dark, comical moment when Rice registers this information and tries to side-step it.
In one final Marvel Comics easter egg, Laura is referred to in Rice’s study as “Alkali Transigen” which refers to Alkali Lake, the location of the original Weapon X project in Alberta, Canada.
Logan hits theaters March 3.