There’s a pretty hefty round of superhero films headed our way in 2013, with Iron Man, Superman, and Thor all set to grace theaters with their own separate films, and many are eagerly looking forward to the return of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in the sequel The Wolverine. The film is in an odd position because it’s not a reboot, but it’s also not closely tied to either X-Men Origins: Wolverine or any of the other X-Men films.
A number of exciting directors flirted with the Wolverine gig over the course of its development, but 3:10 to Yuma helmer James Mangold won out in the end. The Knight and Day filmmaker recently spoke at length about The Wolverine, discussing how closely it follows the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller comics arc, its relation to the other X-Men films, why it was important for the film to take place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand, and much more. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
During a lengthy interview with EW, Mangold confirmed that the film draws heavily from the Claremont/Miller storyline that finds Wolverine wandering Japan alone:
“It’s definitely more [than sampling the vibe and some images from the comics]. A lot of that story and a lot of beats from that saga are in there — and a lot of characters. Without being religious about it, I think it’s a very admiring adaptation. Obviously when you’re adapting anything you make some changes. But all the characters are there – Yukio, Viper, Mariko, Shingen, and Logan obviously. The whole cast of characters that exist in that world exists in our film.”
As for the film’s timeline in relation to the other X-Men films, Mangold thought it was important for there to be some distance:
“It’s set after X-Men 3, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to X-Men 3… [I set it after all the other films] because of some of the themes in the Claremont/Miller saga. I felt it was really important to find Logan at a moment where he was stripped clean of his duties to the X-Men, his other allegiances, and even stripped clean of his own sense of purpose. I was fascinated with the idea of portraying Logan as a ronin – the definition of which is a samurai without a master, without a purpose. Kind of a soldier who is cut loose. War is over. What does he do? What does he face? What does he believe anymore? Who are his friends? What is his reason for being here anymore? I think those questions are especially interesting when you’re dealing with a character who is essentially immortal.”
“It was only to my advantage to set it after the X-Men films because the X-Men had effectively ended at that point. A lot of the key characters had died. There was a sense if I’m locating this film not five minutes after the other movie, but a period of time after that last X-Men movie, I can find a Logan who is living separate from the world. He is no longer a member of some superhero team.”
By setting The Wolverine apart from the other X-Men films, Mangold was able to tell the story an emotional level as well as a physical one. In fact, he likens The Wolverine to a western or a cop movie:
“A fantasy film is often improved by some kind of human reality. What makes them hard to sit through is that the modern-day tentpole film has become a lot of fast cutting and an incredible amount of money spent generating effects. What are we left with? We’re left with what we see – a kind of inundation, a head-banging barrage in which they keep turning the volume up on the mix, and flying things at you faster in the hope that it keeps you in your seat. For me, the idea of making a film with hardcore action, with physical action like I grew up reading in the comic books, but also with a heart – and this character has great heart – to me, it’s no different from making a western. Or a cop film.”
Mangold reveals that it’s an old friendship that first brings Logan to Japan. We already know that one X-Men castmember will be making a cameo in the film, so that unspecified character could be what sets the story in motion:
“What brings him there is an old ally in Japan. We find Logan in a moment of tremendous disillusionment. We find him estranged. One of the models I used working on the film was The Outlaw Josey Wales. You find Logan and his love is gone, his mentors are gone, many of his friends are gone, his own sense of purpose – what am I doing, why do I bother – and his exhaustion is high. He has lived a long time, and he’s tired. He’s tired of the pain.”
Head on over to EW to check out the full interview, which is well worth a read. The Wolverine opens on July 26th.