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Why Logan Cut A Major Death Scene


Warning: massive Logan spoilers ahead. Don't read any further if you haven't seen Hugh Jackman's final Wolverine movie.

If we had to pick one word to describe James Mangold's Logan, it would be "merciless." The R-rated Wolverine finale racks up an enormous body count, and the neo-western tale never shies away from depicting brutal carnage in every way imaginable. Although the film kills nearly every one of its main characters by the time the credits roll, Mangold actually opted to cut Caliban's (Stephen Merchant) final moments because they were a disservice to the character and his sacrifice. Mangold explained:

The tricky thing about it was it felt a little bit to us like they shouldn't leave him there. They should take him with them. Why do they take Charles' body and leave Caliban's body? It felt like it was almost raising more questions. At the same time I felt bad cutting it because I also felt like it gave Stephen's character a kind of farewell.

On a commentary track for one of Logan's deleted scenes, James Mangold speaks at length about the decision to cut Caliban's death from the movie. In the theatrical cut of the film, his final moment onscreen is the instant right before he blows himself up in an attempt to kill Boyd Holbrook's Donald Pierce. However, in the original cut of the film, we find him on the ground moments later dying in the grass as Logan and Laura grab Charles' body and make a run for it. Although it serves as an emotional send-off for one of Logan's closest allies, Mangold felt that it raised more questions than answers as to why Logan and Laura would take the time to grab Charles' body, but not Caliban's as they made their way off of the Munson homestead.

When viewed in the context of the entire movie, the decision makes plenty of sense. As merciless as Logan is, the film still manages to send out each main character that it kills with an appropriate level of respect. By keeping Caliban's death off-screen, the film downplays the decision to leave him behind and keeps the momentum of the scene moving forward. It is also worth mentioning that the explosion is arguably a cooler way for Caliban to exit the story, as he seems confident and comfortable with his decision as he detonates the grenades that destroy The Reavers' truck. It's a beautiful moment of self-sacrifice, and it punctuates the character's arc perfectly--"Beware the light."

As much as it clearly pained James Mangold to trim emotionally resonant scenes like this, it clearly paid off in the end. Logan has received nearly universal critical acclaim for its lean storytelling, and the film has gone on to become a bonafide box office smash -- which is made all the more impressive when we consider its meager budget. This is a decision that Mangold was forced to contend with several more times throughout other deleted scenes from Logan, as the film cut references to classic X-Men characters like Jean Grey and Victor Creed for similar reasons. In the end, the "less is more" approach proved to be the best course of action.

Logan is currently available on Digital HD and Blu-ray; make sure to pick up your copy! As for the rest of this year's major theatrical release, take a look at our movie premiere guide and get your moviegoing calendars filled out accordingly!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.