“The Westchester Incident.” It hangs over the events of Logan like pendulum doom whenever anyone talks about what happened to the X-Men, or why Wolverine is in hiding with Professor X just beyond the Mexican border. If you’ve seen Logan, then you know that there’s never an explanation about the “Westchester Incident,” but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a lot of thought put into it by the film’s director. In an new interview, James Mangold said yes, he does know what the “Westchester Incident” is, but covering it in the movie would have taken things far off course, thematically speaking. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
Now if you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen Logan, or you’re one of those weird people that doesn’t care about spoilers. So to set you up, you’ll recall that not only is Professor X near the century mark in the film, but it’s also strongly implied that he’s got dementia, Alzheimer’s or some other degenerative disease that affects his mind. That’s not a great thing to have if you’re the most powerful psychic on the planet, and we see the results in two scenes where Xavier, in need of his medication, causes everyone in the immediate area to freeze in place and suffer some kind of psychic attack.
So is that what happened to the X-Men? Westchester is, of course, the home of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, and as we see in the movie, Logan is the only person capable of acting during a full-blown psychic attack thanks to his healing ability. So did Xavier accidentally kill his students as a result of his illness? Is that why Wolverine is the sole survivor? It’s possible, but Mangold, in an interview with Coming Soon, isn’t offering any specific details. The director said that the events of the “Westchester Incident” made for a good background detail, and while he showed it at the beginning of one of his scripts for Logan, he eventually removed because he didn’t want the movie to become about what happened “back East.”
“Yeah, I wrote that scene. I wrote it, and at one point, it was even the first scene in the movie. […] It also made the movie about that. It was really interesting. It suddenly made the movie about X-Men dying, as opposed to allowing the movie to be a kind of unwinding onion, like allowing you to kind of enter the story and go, “Where is this going?” It was so large and loomed so large, and I felt like it also was still falling into the formula of the movies, with the big opener, that is setting up the mythology first. I thought, “What if we do an opener that leans into character first? Actually underplay those things?” Let them just feel like it’s more like a […] normal thing, like it’s happened. And instead of underlining it, yeah. Just let it live in the background of all these characters.”
Would it be out of line to suggest the making of a comic book or web video of some kind to reveal the “Westchester Incident” for all its tragic glory at some point in the future? We’ll see. In the meantime, Logan is presently in theatres everywhere.