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Will Wolverine Die In 2017's Logan?

Hugh Jackman has made almost an entire career out of being Logan, a.k.a. Wolverine, in the many X-Men movie series starters, sequels, and spinoffs. But his final stand as the clawed, adamantium-infused superhero is nigh: 2017's Logan, which marks his third standalone feature in the role and (if you count his minimal screen time in X-Men: Apocalypse) ninth appearance overall is expected to be the last time Jackman bulks up to play the brawny character, and there's reason to believe this film will also feature Wolverine's ultimate last stand.

His self-healing factor is weaker

It isn't just Logan's adamantium-coated skeleton that's kept him kicking for so long. His other mutant power is his healing factor, which is definitely getting weaker in his older age, as the trailer for Logan suggests. Director James Mangold confirmed that the character will be in a new, more fragile state than fans are used to when we see him next, telling Empire Magazine that in order to establish a "different tone of a Wolverine movie," they had to make some key changes to the character, including limiting his invincibility.

"We felt like we couldn't hold on to every tradition established in all the movies religiously, or we'd be trapped by the decisions made before us," Mangold explained. "So we questioned whether Logan's healing factor causes him to heal without even a scar. We imagined that it may have when he was younger, but with age, he's getting older and ailing. Perhaps his healing factor no longer produces baby-soft skin. So we imagined he heals quickly, still, but it leaves a scar. The simple idea was that his body would start to get a little more ravaged with a kind of tattooing of past battles, lacerations that remain of previous conflicts."

Indeed the wear and tear of time has taken its toll on his back in the preview, and while that's not a death knell in and of itself, it certainly indicates that Logan is coming into this thing more vulnerable than ever. If his skin can bear damage, then, in theory, the rest of his body can too, right?

There's no timeline for him to jump into

One of the pratfalls of having Jackman as Logan in all of these X-Men movies is that he's shown up in every timeline that can possibly be imagined for these characters. With X-Men: First Class, they shot back in time to present vintage Logan at the start of Charles Xavier's school for mutants, and in Days of Future Past, they sent him even further back. Logan, meanwhile, will jump ahead to a dystopian 2024, when the destruction of the world is underway at the hands of an evil, mutant-hating corporation headed up by Nathaniel Essex, a.k.a. Mr. Sinister.

In essence, Logan has already covered all of the temporal bases this franchise can possibly touch upon for Wolverine, so there's nowhere for him to go from here except forward. Since Jackman is stepping away from the role after this, he won't be around to carry that torch into the apparently bleak future, and who could possibly replace him as grown-up Logan? There's no precedent for giving him a new face (this isn't Batman, a character that a slew of actors have played; this is Jackman's character, through and through).

The possibility of pulling a Han Solo maneuver with a prequel seems precluded by Jackman's own appearances throughout the past timelines, too. Whereas the X-Men: First Class series managed to reinvent the characters with a younger cast to look back at their early lives, Jackman stuck around. Besides, he's already handled his own origin story. So, while there's still a chance that Logan could walk away from his final film unscathed, the only real way to get any closure would be to kill him off and let him go for good...because otherwise, fans will likely keep beating Jackman's door down to come back for more.

There's also a new kid in town

The real message of the first Logan trailer was this: world, meet Laura Kinney, a.k.a. X-23. Portrayed by Dafne Keen, Laura is a female clone of Wolverine, here to help stop Mr. Sinister and his squad of hitmen from hunting down the last traces of mutantkind. Protected by Logan and an ailing Professor X, she appears to be as scrappy and daring as Logan in his prime—and he, in turn, seems to be quite concerned about her welfare and willing to do what it takes to protect her from the bad guys.

Not only does Laura's arrival solve the problem of how to replace the character after Jackman takes his leave of the franchise, but she also presents a plot opportunity to justify his demise. If he cares about her existence more than his own, he'd probably be willing to sacrifice himself to save her so that she can continue his mission to protect the world's remaining mutants. It's just a theory, but, given what we've seen so far, it isn't out of the question.

He also dies in the comics

Marvel Comics' Death of Wolverine dropped in 2014 and delivered exactly what its title promised: the death of Wolverine. In the story, Logan succumbs to a virus that impacts his healing power (sound familiar?) which makes him susceptible to harm by his enemies. Long story short, he confronts Dr. Cornelius (David Ritchie's character in Origins) to stop Cornelius from bonding other people with adamantium, and gets completely covered in the molten metal while trying to save the doctor's subjects from the torturous process. Given that X-23/Laura is clearly being captured in the preview, this storyline could be adapted to fit her into that mold; perhaps she'll be one of the people he comes to save.

It's worth noting that after Logan's death, it's X-23 who takes up the mantle of her "father" Wolverine, as she has his adamantium-bolstered bones and healing factor on tap, even adopting his classic costume in the All-New Wolverine comics series. Since it's almost completely implausible to replace Logan in the past, present, or future, and Jackman's really stepping away from his long-held role now, passing the torch to Logan's successor after sacrificing himself for her is the most canonically sensible way to end his tenure. The teaser closes out with Professor X's voice saying, "Logan, you still have time"—which seems a lot like ominous foreshadowing.