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Closure is a rarity when it comes to the world of superheroes, in which sequels span decades and long-dead characters return with little explanation. But Logan, out Friday, promises closure for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, whom he’s played for 17 years in nine movies.
With that in mind, it’s time to look back at three superhero movie series and how they handled their protagonists’ introductions and sendoffs. Examining Bryan Singer’s X-Men, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, it’s apparent that quite a lot of thought went into the introduction of these characters, and often just as much thought went into how they’d leave the screen.
But not always. While The Dark Knight Rises takes extreme care in how it sends off its characters, franchises like X-Men took a rather haphazard approach (Days of Future past was fantastic, but it wasn’t exactly the plan all along that a time-traveling plot would erase the mistakes of The Last Stand.) Note: Some of these films include younger actors playing the characters. Here, only the main actor is considered.
To start, a look at the first shots of Xavier and Logan. (Since Logan has just come out, no final shots yet.)
Prof. X in X-Men: He sits in the audience of Jean Grey’s Senate hearing on mutation.
Wolverine in X-Men: Logan spends his evenings cage fighting.
Magneto in X-Men: Charles confronts Erik after the Senate hearing.
Magneto in Days of Future Past: Magneto is killed by sentinels. Though this timeline has been erased so perhaps he is still alive.
Jean in X-Men: She speaks before the Senate.
Jean in Days of Future Past: She’s alive once again, and no one is happier than Logan.
Peter in Spider-Man: He’s running for the bus. Poor geek.
Peter in Spider-Man 3: He’s back with MJ, having reconciled after being an emo-dancing jerk.
Mary Jane in Spider-Man: She’s happily on the bus, where Peter wants to be.
Mary Jane in Spider-Man 3: She’s slow dancing with Peter, having reconciled with him.
Harry in Spider-Man: He pulls up to the school field trip in his daddy’s Rolls.
Harry in Spider-Man 3: He dies in Peter’s arms, after helping his best friend defeat Venom.
THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY (2005-12)
Gordon in Batman Begins: He comforts a young Bruce Wayne, putting Thomas Wayne’s coat around his shoulders.
Gordon in The Dark Knight: He realizes his longtime ally’s legacy continues as he sees the restored Batsignal.
Bruce in Batman Begins: He awakens in prison after dreaming of his childhood.
Bruce in The Dark Knight Rises: He smiles knowingly at Alfred from a cafe in Florence. Because it’s Bruce Wayne. He couldn’t just leave a note saying he was alive.
Alfred in Batman Begins: He looks on as Thomas Wayne carries young Bruce after a fall.
Alfred in The Dark Knight Rises: No words are exchanged, and that’s enough. He knows master Bruce made it.
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