Logan, Marvel’s R-rated meditation on mutant death and disease, raked in millions in its opening weekend. Part of the film’s strength is choosing which parts of comic book lore to make explicit — the process of creating Laura is pretty detailed — while leaving others vague. We know throughout the film, for instance, that Logan is in extreme pain, and there are quite a few possible explanations offered as to why.
Major spoilers for Logan follow.
It’s clear what’s killing Professor X. As he says himself, “I’m fucking 90!” The natural toll his age is taking on him has a mutant-y characteristic to it — his degenerative brain disease manifests in dangerous telekinetic seizures — but it’s still more straightforward than what’s going on inside Logan.
Wolverine in Logan is dying because of an insidious combo of factors. First, he’s nearly 200 years old, and like Xavier he is simply reaching the end of his natural life. Second, his body is reacting to his adamantium bone infusion, as he refers to the metal as “that shit they put in me.” As his healing factor slows due to old age, his body has trouble coping with the massive foreign substance that was horrifically melded onto his skeleton decades ago.
In fact, Logan’s symptoms, including muscle weakness, bloodshot eyes, and red lines stemming from his wounds, look a whole lot like heavy metal poisoning. We also see him struggling with his retractable claws getting stuck and he later takes Transigen’s bright green drug to experience his youthful, original powers temporarily. Though Logan doesn’t dedicate much time to the details of what’s killing its protagonists, it’s clear that they’re both experiencing a form of intense decay related to their mutations.
It’s also possible that Xander and Transigen’s dastardly poisoning plan, which we learn was a targeted use of modified corn syrup to kill off those with the mutant gene, could be affecting Logan slowly. Xander’s poison would have worked especially slowly on Logan’s body, anyway, but if he had been eating junk food in the decades prior to 2029, he could have a lot of Xander’s chemicals in his system, wreaking havoc.
Ultimately, the answer to what’s killing Logan from the inside is complicated. The painful process ends, of course, when he’s gored through the chest by a tree trunk.
Logan is in theaters now.