James Mangold Explains Why Caliban Was In 'Logan' And 'X-Men: Apocalypse'

When it comes to the X-Men franchise, this year's Logan and last year's X-Men: Apocalypse are completely on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Logan is a much more intimate, grounded character piece while X-Men: Apocalypse other is a loud, bright, hollow tentpole. However, they do have one thing in common: the mutant known as Caliban.

In X-Men: Apocalypse, Caliban is played by Tómas Lemarquis, and he's seen working as a black market dealer who helps Mystique find Nightcrawler. The film is set in 1983, but 46 years later Caliban is played by Stephen Merchant and he's a timid recluse living with Logan as one of the last remaining mutants and helping him take care of Professor X. So how is this possible? Logan director James Mangold has an explanation, but you're not going to like it.

Nerdist asked James Mangold about the appearance of Caliban in both Logan and X-Men: Apocalypse, and unfortunately, he didn't have an explanation that clears up any logical inconsistencies within the X-Men film franchise timeline:

"It's a funny, messy story of how so often these things are not as coordinated as everyone thinks. 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."

This just goes to show you how much more disorganized 20th Century Fox is when it comes to building their cinematic universe for mutants than Marvel Studios is with all their superheroes. The fact that no one knew that Caliban was appearing in Apocalypse while also appearing in Logan is rather ridiculous. You'd think someone would be paying attention to these things.

Despite this gaffe behind the scenes, the presence of Caliban doesn't really seem difficult to explain. X-Men: Apocalypse takes place in an altered timeline thanks to intervention in 1973 from Wolverine's consciousness from the future in X-Men: Days of Future Past. That means everything that happens from 1973 is a new timeline. The flashforward we see in 2023 at Professor X's mansion is presumed to be part of the new timeline from the past, which would include the events of X-Men: Apocalypse in the 1980s. If that's still confusing to you, ScreenRant has a much more detailed, helpful explanation of how the X-Men film franchise timeline works.

Therefore, the only suspension of disbelief would be that Caliban ages 46 years without turning into an old man. Since the lifespan of mutants is generally longer than that of humans, it's not a stretch to think that Caliban has merely survived from 1983 into 2029 (when Logan takes place) and still be in decent shape. After all, he looks fairly young and healthy in X-Men: Apocalypse. Here's a refresher in case you need it:

If we assume Caliban can live longer than most humans, the only real issue fans might have is how much different Logan's version of Caliban is than in X-Men: Apocalypse. But even then, a lot can happen in 40 years to change a person (just look at Logan), so it's not out of the realm of possibility for Caliban to be in both movies while still keeping the confusing X-Men timeline intact. It's just a shame that someone was so careless behind the scenes that they didn't even think about it.