Warning: SPOILERS for Logan are ahead!
As the 10th movie in the X-Men franchise, it's surprising just how self-contained Logan feels. Don't get me wrong, the movie will be most appreciated by longtime fans of this series of superhero movies who have watched Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier for years. That said, because of the tone difference and limited references to past X-Men movies, it was more of a self-contained story that could be appreciated by anyone looking to watch an R-rated, violent, emotional tale. Fortunately, X-Men fans weren't left without any callbacks to the past.
Now that it's been almost a week since Logan's been in theaters, we've collected the main references to previous X-Men movies made in the third Wolverine spinoff, reminding us that even though Logan works excellently as a standalone story, it's still another chapter in the long-running mutant saga. Let's start with something that's been with Wolverine for many of his cinematic appearances.
The Dog Tags
Longtime X-Men fans know that one of Logan's few possessions are the dog tags he received when he joined Weapon X. Those remain one of his personal treasures, because when he lost his memory, it was thanks to them that he figured out he went by Logan and Wolverine. The dog tags briefly appear in Logan, which is odd considering that he left them behind in X2: X-Men United as a show of defiance towards William Stryker, the head of Weapon X, just like he did with his first pair in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I guess Logan obtained a new pair at some point for nostalgia's sake.
The Statue Of Liberty
Wolverine and Professor X have known each other a long time, and I'm not even talking about when Wolverine went back in time to find James McCoy's Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past. By the time Logan occurs, nearly 30 years have passed since X-Men, when Patrick Steart's Xavier recruited Wolverine into his team of superheroes. The climax of that movie is referenced in Logan when Wolverine mentions that the Statue of Liberty "happened a long time ago." That refers to the X-Men's confrontation with Magneto and the Brotherhood of Mutants when the latter attempted to convert the world leaders on Ellis Island into mutants. Highlights from that battle include Wolverine slicing off one of the Statue's crown spikes and Cyclops blasting Sabretooth off the landmark.
2013's The Wolverine finally brought the eponymous protagonist to Japan, a location that's near and dear to his comic book counterpart. While there, he fought Yakuza forces, Viper and Silver Samurai. Thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past, it looked like Wolverine's second solo cinematic adventure had been wiped from continuity, but perhaps not. In Logan, a samurai sword is seen hanging in Wolverine's abode, implying that in this revised timeline, the clawed mutant still ended up going to Japan and presumably got into similar shenanigans.
The Adamantium Bullet
Back in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, William Stryker shot Wolverine in the head with several adamantium bullets. They didn't kill him, but the subsequent trauma was the reason he lost his memories. Origins is no longer canon within the new X-Men timeline, but Logan called back to the 2009 movie by having Wolverine hold onto an adamantium bullet in case he wanted to end his life on his own terms. Evidently due to his advanced age and faltering healing factor, an adamantium shot in the head would have done the trick, unlike all those years ago when he was first bonded to adamantium. It didn't come to that, though, because Logan was impaled by X-24, and Laura soon after shot the savage clone in the head with that same bullet.
Logan's Cage Fighter Days
Wolverine and Charles Xavier had a father/son-like relationship, and sometimes fathers and sons argue. Wolverine wasn't keen on protecting Laura from Transigen at first, which greatly disappointed Xavier. The telepath saw Logan as wasting his potential, and noted at one point how when he first found Wolverine all those years ago, he was a cage fighter. This calls back to the first X-Men movie, when Wolverine was still an amnesiac, and when we first met him through Rogue's eyes at a seedy bar, he was making money by beating up guys in cage fights. Shortly after, Wolverine and Rogue were saved by the X-Men, and their lives were forever changed.
"Special Needs School"
After helping the Munsons round up their horses on the road, Wolverine, Charles Xavier and Laura accept the family gracious invitation to have dinner at their house and spend the night. During the meal, Wolverine mentions how Xavier used to be a professor, prompting the wheelchair-bound mutant to explain that he used to run a "special needs school." This of course refers to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, where young mutants could go to get a good education and learn how to control their abilities. Unfortunately, because of the Westchester Incident, Xavier and Wolverine were forced to leave the school so that the former couldn't hurt anyone else.
Donald Pierce, Zander Rice and the Reavers were all members of Transigen, the project that breeded Laura and the young mutants. Transigen also partnered with Alkali to put chemicals into mass-produced food that suppressed the mutant gene, thus resulting in no new mutants being born in two decades. Alkali shares the same name as Canada's Alkali Lake, which housed the military compound where William Stryker ran the Weapon X program. The compound was destroyed in X2: X-Men United when the dam was destroyed. It's unclear whether those same events unfolded in the new timeline, but evidently the Alkali name stuck around in the corporate sector.
Zander Rice's Father
In Logan's climatic finale, Transigen head Zander Rice revealed that his father worked at Weapon X at the same time Wolverine was there. Wolverine then remembers that he killed Zander's father. This is an indirect reference to Wolverine's minor appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse. As mentioned earlier, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was rendered non-canon after X-Men: Days of Future Past, but X-Men: Apocalypse showed how Wolverine broke out of Weapon X in the new timeline. After being freed by Jean Grey, Cyclops and Nightcrawler, the mindless Logan went on a rampage in the compound, killing anyone who got in his way. Zander's father was one of the victims, and Zander's held a grudge against Wolverine and mutants in general ever since.