Okay, this video comes with a disclaimer.
Not a content warning as such—we’re all grown ups here (and if you’re not, may I suggest this link instead?) and scenes of a girl getting surgery to give her adamantium claws is nothing we haven’t all seen before.
No, what you should be aware of with this video is that, to use an almost archaic expression, you should not adjust your sets.
No, your internet bandwidth hasn’t mysteriously plummeted. Your creepy neighbor isn’t hogging the street’s cables by downloading terabytes of porn again (well, he probably is, but that’s beside the point).
YouTube hasn’t automatically clicked down to 144p—this video is naturally blurry. It’s one of those James Mangold artsy things again.
This is another pretty weird promo clip for Logan, and for those who at least try to make some sense of the X-Men movie canon, it’s going to be pretty frustrating.
The candid hospital nature of this video suggests that X-23, or, as she’s called in the video’s title, Laura, gets her adamantium claws (it’s possible she only has claws, but there might be a skeleton casing in this for her as well) in a less fantastical setting than the Weapon X facility at Alkali Lake that we see in X2 and X-Men: Origins: Wolverine.
It all looks a lot less sinister, and a lot more like a routine procedure, with a sterile environment and ample lighting that apparently wasn’t necessary when Logan was given his claws.
There’s a convoluted way of making this all fit within established movie canon—perhaps, after the events of Apocalypse in the new timeline, the Essex Corp abandoned evil lairs as a place for scientific experiments on mutants, and instead went for somewhere a little more like a children’s hospital. That makes sense, although it’s if anything more creepy than an underground military complex.
What fits better, though, is the line in one of the Logan trailers in which Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine addresses the stories in an X-Men comic. Most of what we’ve seen on-screen thus far isn’t true, and what is true, didn’t happen like that.
Logan’s in a different canon—one in which the legends of the X-Men have been told, but in which mutant experimentation doesn’t happen under a Canadian lake in a series of underground tunnels.
This narrative change, it seems, was something that James Mangold really had to fight for.
Recent comments from Twentieth Century Fox’s Chairman, Stacey Snider, suggest that the studio wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of an X-Men movie that doesn’t wear its comic book inspiration on its sleeve:
“Inside, there was real consternation about the intensity of the tone of the film. It’s more of an elegy about life and death. The paradigm for it was a Western, and my colleagues were up in arms. It’s not a wise-cracking cigar-chomping mutton-sporting Wolverine, and the debate internally became, isn’t that freakin’ boring?”
You can blame Marvel Studios for this attitude.
While we were getting plenty of silly comic book movies before the MCU came along, it’s no secret that The Avengers perfected the formula of light, action-packed superhero entertainment. Ever since the MCU came along, Fox’s X-Men movies have been getting progressively less serious, culminating in last year’s Deadpool.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Higher Ups at Fox were less than thrilled with the idea of a grounded, gritty, “real world” movie in which violence has realistic, bloody consequences.
Of course, now Fox is eager to champion Logan—after all, fans seem to be going wild for the new movie.
So who knows? Perhaps James Mangold’s anti-superhero film will inspire a wave of more somber, artistic comic book movies as studios attempt to copy this new formula.
Or maybe, they’ll interpret it wrong, and we’ll get an R-rated cut of Justice League which features Superman throwing out racial slurs and an uncomfortably graphic sex scene or two.