X-Men may have paved the way for other comic book franchises way back when, but those movies sure don’t seem to care about continuity as much as everybody else does. Like, why is Emma Frost younger in the modern-day X-Men Origins: Wolverine than she is circa 1963 in X-Men: First Class? Because eff you, that’s why.
Luckily, X-Men: Days of Future Past made it so that none of the movies made between X-2 and First Class actually happened, so the fact that there are two Angels and two Bolivar Trasks and four versions of Colossus (Colossuses? Colossi? Peters Rasputin, let’s say) floating around in the timeline is pretty much a moot point. But if you thought that the new-and-improved X-Men would be more consistent going forward, then guess again, because I’ve got one word for you: Caliban.
Despite his striking physical appearance, Caliban is far from the most iconic mutant in the franchise, so it’s possible you didn’t notice his small cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse; he was the delightfully weird bald guy (played by Tómas Lemarquis) who spoke in the third person and used his mutant tracking powers to help both Mystique and Apocalypse. Well, don’t get too used to that interpretation of the character, because he’ll also be appearing in the final Wolverine spin-off film, Logan, played completely differently by Stephen Merchant of The Office. And yes — it's the exact same character.
So how did this happen? “It’s a funny, messy story of how so often these things are not as coordinated as everyone thinks,” director James Mangold told us at a recent press event for 20th Century Fox. “I actually had written him into our movie, and they didn’t know [he was] in Apocalypse, and then they kind of wrote it in their movie, and they cast someone in their movie and I had not seen it and was working away on mine.” Basically, it was a total coincidence. Whoops!
Once Mangold found out about the mix-up, though, he refused to let it compromise his personal vision for what the character should be. “I just wanted to see this particular energy that we wrote, so I cast for what we were looking for,” he added. “And I love Stephen, I’m a huge fan of his.” Thus, the Logan version of Caliban was born.
Of course, it makes total sense that the creative team behind X-Men: Apocalypse cameo would want to give Caliban a cameo in the first place — the movie takes place in the '80s, and that was Caliban's heyday. A member of an underground mutant society known as the Morlocks, he was a friend to the X-Men and later a part of the X-Factor team, using his mutant-tracking abilities to help locate others like him. Eventually he joined up with Apocalypse and even became one of his four horseman, giving him super strength and other abilities that he retained well into the 2000s.
However, despite how intertwined Caliban and Apocalypse's stories are in the comics, it’s clear based on the footage we saw at last month’s Fox 2017 showcase that he will have a much more important and interesting role in Logan than he did in his X-Men movie debut. While Merchant might not be playing Caliban the exact same way that Lemarquis did, it’s clear from the footage they showed at the Fox 2017 showcase last month that audiences are going to love him regardless.
If you’re really worried about continuity, though, it probably won’t be that difficult for most comic book nerds to reconcile both versions of the character in our own heads. Logan takes place in 2024, at least 40 years after the events of Apocalypse, and that’s plenty of time for Caliban to become a very different (and more bitter) person. Heck, maybe the new British accent is a secondary mutation or something! It’s not as if that excuse hasn’t been used before. Either way, you’ll have to come up with the explanation all on your own, because you’re certainly not getting one when you see Logan.
How would you come up with an in-universe way to justify two different characterizations of Caliban? Let us know in the comments — best answer gets a No-Prize!
Images: 20th Century Fox, Marvel Comics
Everything we learned in the first Logan trailer: