‘Logan’: James Mangold Reveals Timeline; Teases Film’s Unique Tone and Family Focus

     October 20, 2016

It’s unofficial Logan day, and now after the dust has settled from that terrific debut trailer, director James Mangold is breaking down some of the teaser’s more tantalizing shots. While we still don’t have an official synopsis, the third standalone Wolverine film takes place in a post-apocalyptic setting in which mutants are scarce. Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has buddied up with an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and a mysterious young girl, and they butt heads with the Reavers—a group of cyborgs who hate and hunt mutants.

Mangold did a terrific job of delivering a very different kind of superhero film with The Wolverine, which had a neo-Western vibe that meshed perfectly with the Japanese setting and lower stakes, and now the filmmaker and Jackman are taking a unique approach to the superhero genre once more with Logan. Speaking with Empire, the Walk the Line filmmaker said it was their intention from the beginning to make Logan stand out, and that the choice of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” was a conscious one to tell audiences this is not your typical superhero movie:

“Obviously I have a connection and a fondness for Johnny Cash, and his tone and his message and his music. But the real driver in all these decisions is trying to separate ourselves, in an accurate way, from the other superhero movies. We think we’re going to deliver something a little different and we want to make sure we’re selling audiences on the difference. Sometimes even when a movie’s a little different, the studio’s trying to market the movie just like all the others. [Cash’s] music, in a way, separates us from the standard, bombastic, brooding orchestral, swish-bang, doors opening and slamming, explosions kind of methodology of some of these movies.”

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Image via 20th Century Fox

Indeed, Mangold says he and Jackman approached Logan with a steadfastness in doing what was right for the movie, even if that sometimes meant fibbing the X-Men timeline established in the previous films:

“Hugh and I have been talking about what we would do since we were working on the last one, and for both of us it was this requirement that, to be even interested in doing it, we had to free ourselves from some assumptions that had existed in the past, and be able to change the tone a bit. Not merely to change for change’s sake, but also to make something that’s speaking to the culture now, that’s not just the same style — how many times can they save the world in one way or another? How can we construct a story that’s built more on character and character issues, in a way as if it almost wasn’t a superhero movie, yet it features their powers and struggles and themes?”

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Image via 20th Century Fox

As for when Logan takes place, Mangold confirmed that we are indeed the furthest in the future we’ve ever seen, and that means mutants have a different role to play:

“We are in the future, we have passed the point of the epilogue of Days Of Future Past. We’re finding all these characters in circumstances that are a little more real. The questions of ageing, of loneliness, of where I belong. Am I still useful to the world? I saw it as an opportunity. We’ve seen these characters in action, saving the universe. But what happens when you’re in retirement and that career is over?”

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Image via 20th Century Fox

That feeds directly into the changed Wolverine, with Mangold noting that he and Jackman wanted the character to start showing scars in his old age:

“One of the things we all thought about as we worked on this film is, well, we don’t want to rebuild everything. We want to have some questions. In order to make a different Logan, and a different tone of a Wolverine movie, we felt like we couldn’t hold on to every tradition established in all the movies religiously, or we’d be trapped by the decisions made before us. So we questioned whether Logan’s healing factor causes him to heal without even a scar. We imagined that it may have when he was younger, but with age, he’s getting older and ailing. Perhaps his healing factor no longer produces baby-soft skin. So we imagined he heals quickly, still, but it leaves a scar. The simple idea was that his body would start to get a little more ravaged with a kind of tattooing of past battles, lacerations that remain of previous conflicts.”

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Image via 20th Century Fox

But just because Wolverine is older doesn’t mean he’s lost his edge. Indeed, while Mangold shot both a PG-13 and R-rated version of The Wolverine, with Logan this is the first time they got the go-ahead from Fox to make the film R-rated from the very beginning. As a result, Mangold promises to deliver the Wolverine fans have been clamoring for:

“[This represents] to me the kind of aggressive, classical Wolverine action that we want in the movie – more of something that fans have been asking for, for a really long time. We’ve been limited in one way or another from giving it to them, but I think we’ve got the go-ahead to really go for it on this picture. So we’re really trying to deliver what folks have always imagined those kind of battles would look like. There is a lot of high-octane action in the movie. We’re just trying to do it very differently and very viscerally.”

The film won’t all be berserker rage though, as Mangold reinforces the idea that Logan, at heart, is a story about family:

“I think this movie is about family, and sticking together, and about making connections in a world in which our characters might feel very alone.”

This is all intriguing stuff to be sure, and it’s certainly clear from the trailer that Logan is unlike any other superhero film we’ve seen thus far. It’s gritty like Batman Begins or The Dark Knight but also embracing the sci-fi aspects of an X-Men story, and it also has shades of Mad Max and a massive helping of heart. March 3, 2017 can’t get here fast enough.

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