One of the more aggravating elements to have come about from the whole Marvel and DC Are Taking Over Hollywood thing is the discussion of universes. Nearly any talk that exists about Marvel or DC movies ties in with a universe, which really only means that continuity is kept between movies. As plenty of people have discussed, this has also had the effect of turning movies and their sequels into episodes of an outrageously expensive TV series, one where in-the-moment stakes and thoughtful characteristics are less important than teasing whatever foreboding maelstrom or evil god will arrive in the next installment.
Apparently, Logan director James Mangold is all too aware of this feeling and while speaking with CBR recently, he made a point of talking about his wanting to make a personal film in a line of movies that, for the most part, feel more like products than artistic endeavors. Here’s what Mangold said to CBR about Logan and its timeline:
“It’s year 2029 when the movie takes place…There’s an epilogue scene in Days of Future Past which is 2024, or 2023, something like that. I just wanted to get far enough past. My goal was real simple: it was to pick a time where I had enough elbow room that I was clear of existing entanglements.”
“Then, it’s impossible to do something fresh, meaning essentially you’re just a director on the 14th episode of a television show picking up where the last one left off and people are going to be really startled by any discontinuity or changes…The goal here was to somehow make a film that’s different: to be a filmmaker myself and go, ‘How would I bring myself to this? What would I do if I was starting from scratch? What would I explore? What have I seen not explored?’ Not only in the X-Men universe but in comic book movies in general.”
These are deeply heartening words coming from a director that is clearly talented but has rarely made me think with his films. The Wolverine, which Mangold also directed, was a solid entry in a series but besides its fascinating narrative conceits, there wasn’t anything particularly personal about the movie or the story. It remains a coherent, occasionally exhilarating entertainment, like Mangold’s Knight and Day or Walk the Line, which wrangled him a few major award nominations. Logan, from what he says here, might turn out to be something of a breakthrough for him but he may not be on the same ground as his star, Hugh Jackman, who suggested that Logan is in a different timeline altogether than the previous X-Men movies in a Digital Spy interview. Here’s what he had to say:
“When you see the full movie you’ll understand…Not only is it different in terms of timeline and tone, it’s a slightly different universe. It’s actually a different paradigm and that will become clear.”
“We wanted to make something really different. Definitely tonally different…Early on we had the idea for the title not having anything to do with Wolverine in it but just being about the man. And what the collateral damage of being Wolverine your entire life would be.”
This is confusing. Even if one were to start untangling the different timelines created by all that time traveling mumbo jumbo in Days of Future Past, it would still suggest that Logan features a continuation of the same character of Wolverine since Jackman is playing him. Even more so considering that Patrick Stewart is playing Charles Xavier once again. But hey, as the man says, perhaps I’ll suddenly understand this thing that does not matter in the slightest to the quality of the film after I see Logan. What I imagine Jackman is trying to impart is how different this movie is from the other films, and that is quite apparent even in the trailers for Logan. Whether this difference in tone and, sigh, the universe in which the story exists can make Mangold’s film more compelling than the last six X-Men films and the last two Wolverine movies is something that we will also have to wait and see about.