Logan tore onto Cineworld screens last weekend and it's gone down a storm, having already generated a mighty $247m at the box office worldwide. Hugh Jackman's final stab as the iconic Wolverine has been widely acclaimed as his best, and we think the time is right to talk about that ending, and what it potentially means for the future of the X-Men franchise.
WARNING: THIS OBVIOUSLY CONTAINS MAJOR LOGAN SPOILERS, SO GO NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET!
So, let's recap what happens at the end of the movie
By the time we reach Logan's bloody, corpse-strewn final stages, Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) has met a grisly end at the hands of the title hero's clone, X-24, developed by sinister Transigen scientist Dr. Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant). Having absorbed multiple fatal wounds, Logan is slowly dying as his healing serum begins to wear off.
Rice is also behind the tests carried out on young Wolverine clone Laura/X-23 (Dafne Keen) and her fellow Transigen child test subjects, all of whom have been discovered by Logan at the mythical 'Eden', a place our hero previously dismissed as fiction lurking within Laura's favourite X-Men comics.
Having spent the majority of the movie attempting to hunt Laura and her fellow child mutants down, Rice is ultimately shot dead by Logan and X-24 is himself killed by an adamantium bullet fired by Laura. It then culminates in Logan's tender, poignant farewell to his daughter, after which he dies having been impaled on a tree stump. Laura and her fellow mutants then trek off towards the Canadian border and an unknown future. We're not crying – honest...
Rice's connection to Logan
One of the most intriguing dialogue exchanges comes when the sneering geneticist reveals to Logan that the latter killed his father when escaping from Alkali lake following the fateful adamantium skeleton graft.
The birth of Wolverine himself is one that has echoed throughout both the X-Men and solo Wolverine movies, but this adds an unexpectedly personal dimension to the character's development. A future movie could potentially reframe this crucial moment from Rice's tragic perspective, allowing us to perceive the danger posed by Wolverine in fresh and exciting new ways, and to better understand Rice's rise into an all-powerful, vengeful bad guy.
The destruction of all mutants
Even more shockingly, Rice explains that he is the one behind the mutant obliteration, having developed a Transigen virus that was designed to wipe out the majority whilst their scientists developed weaponised test subjects of their own (of which X-24 is one).
The exact setting of Logan as a movie is uncertain, the events that occurred between this movie and the earlier X-Men films alluded to but never explicitly spelled out. Perhaps in future we'll get another movie filling in the gaps, one that dramatises the terrible collapse of mutant-kind and which further contextualises the bleak sense of despair felt by the characters in Logan.
A new beginning?
Tragic as it is to say goodbye to Jackman's signature character (has it really been 17 years?) there is a glimmer of hope as the Transigen children trek off to hopefully begin a new life.
We've already become well acquainted with Laura, courtesy of Keen's terrific and charismatic performance, and she is surely due for her own spin-off movie. Indeed, Logan director James Mangold has expressed his own enthusiasm for such a thing.
But what about her cohorts? We get a little sampling of their awesome powers when they band together to take down Rice's drawling cyborg lackey Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), so there is surely potential to take the X-Men franchise in a bold new direction with a fresh cast of young faces.
After all, we could then be faced with the intriguing prospect of a group of new X-Men growing up on-screen, and this would also tie in with the ongoing strategy to introduce young blood into the series. Last year's X-Men: Apocalypse (which takes place before Logan) introduced us to younger incarnations of classic characters like Jean Grey, Cyclops and Storm, all of whom are set to re-appear in the next film, Supernova, said to be filming this summer.
Will there be a desire to keep everything young, presenting us with a post-Logan story about a new generation of mutant heroes? Watch this space.