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The first Logan trailer was finally released earlier today, and much like Deadpool earlier this year, the third Wolverine spinoff looks like it will be a different kind of X-Men movie. Rocking a Mad Max quality while Johnny Cash's "Hurt" cover played, the preview showed a grizzlier Wolverine meeting his female clone, X-23, and protecting her from technologically-enhanced assassins. Oh, and in case the U.S. trailer wasn't enough, the international trailer makes it clear this will dive deeply into R-rated territory. However, watching this preview has me continuing to question something that's been bugging me for the last two weeks, when the uptick in Logan news began: on which timeline does this movie exist? Is it the main timeline, i.e. the one established at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, or will we be watching a tale that takes place in an alternate continuity? At the moment, the latter seems likelier.
Let's wind the clock back to X-Men: Days of Future Past. In 2023. advanced Sentinels were exterminating mutants and their human allies, and the remaining X-Men were the only defenders left on the planet. With no options left, Kitty Pryde sent Wolverine's mind back to his younger body in 1973 so he could prevent Mystique from assassinating Bolivar Trask and being captured, thus preventing the rise of the Sentinels five decades later. Things didn't go exactly the way he planned, but in the end, he was successful. He reawakened in a new timeline where robots weren't slaughtering mutants or humans, the X-Men were whole again, and Cyclops and Jean Grey were still alive. Everything seemed much happier.
So what's the deal with Logan? Recent reports have stated that this spinoff takes place in 2024, so did everything go to hell a year later? That doesn't make a lot of sense. For argument's sake, let's assume that Logan actually takes place in the early 2030s. That would make Professor X around 100 years old, which fits with his deteriorated state. Nevertheless, things seem to have gotten significantly worse in the future. We can attribute Wolverine's malfunctioning healing powers and Professor X's mental issues to their advanced ages, but why aren't they at the X-Mansion? Were all the X-Men except those two killed by the force that's wiping out mutants across the globe, thus forcing them to move into that abandoned water tower? Obviously life isn't perfect, and bad things were bound to still happen in the new timeline Wolverine created, but this is an especially gloomy turn of events.
What could be happening is that Logan is using a common time travel story trope where the timeline always tries to naturally correct itself. The Sentinels may not be around to kill mutants themselves, but time has still found a way to eliminate their kind. At the moment, it sounds like a disease is responsible, but with a mysterious organization called Transigen conducting cruel experiments on mutants, said disease may not be natural. While there's nothing dramatically wrong with placing Wolverine and these X-Men characters in a dismal time period, it does restrict future entries in the series. If there's a movie in this franchise that wants to take place around those same years, they'll have to be set in the same bleak era. If the X-Men franchise were ending, this wouldn't be an issue, since that would close the book on this chapter of superhero movie history. But with New Mutants, Deadpool 2 and more on the way, that's obviously not happening.
Since the prospect of the X-Men cinematic universe heading in this direction is depressing and a little puzzling, I'm guessing that Logan takes place in a one-off timeline. Perhaps only the first three movies are the only series entries that exist in this continuity. Following the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, the Sentinels never rose to power, and eventually Wolverine and Professor X crossed paths again. Unfortunately, mutantkind has slowly died off in the years since, and despite his weakened state, Wolverine must go on one last mission to stop Transigen and look after his "daughter," X-23, a.k.a. Laura Kinney. By taking this approach, Hugh Jackman can conclude Wolverine's story in an emotionally fitting way, but the future X-Men movies aren't beholden to this future.
Logan hits theaters on March 3, 2017. Meanwhile, if you have your own timeline-related theories for the movie, or have any favorite moments from the new trailer, let us know in the comments below.