Entertainment Weekly chatted with THE WOLVERINE director James Mangold, who gave some great insight into the mind of Logan, played by legendary ‘X-Men’ actor Hugh Jackman. This is probably one of the most detailed discussions with Mangold yet, so click the link above for the full interview.
How closely do you follow the Claremont/Miller comic book series that inspired this movie? Sampling the vibe and some images?
“It’s definitely more. 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.”
Chronologically, this follows all the other movies featuring Wolverine. But the sense I’m getting is that you’re trying to reboot the character a little.
“It’s set after X-Men 3, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to X-Men 3. You have a choice the second you enter a world like this with a huge amount of comic books, backstories, three movies, a Wolverine origins movie … You have decide where you’re going to exist in relation to all these other things, particularly if you’re working with an actor who actually played the character in other films.”
So why did you choose to set yours after all those others?
“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.”
Then it was important for him to have that baggage from the previous movies?
“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.”
There’s also less certainty about how things turn out for him, which is something you don’t get when a film is a prequel.
“I felt the most liberating thing about coming after the other movies is you don’t have to hand it off or end it in some way that meets up with a previous film. For creative freedom, I didn’t want to have to, essentially, land this film in Wichita because that’s where the next one takes off from. It helped me to be really free, and in some ways be more loyal to Claremont/Miller, without having to be tied to other films.”
There are a lot of rumors about possible X-Men characters turning up in this film. I’m going to let you off the hook there because we actually don’t want to spoil such surprises. But for those unfamiliar with the Claremont/Miller books, can you tell us what is in the film that brings Logan to Japan?
An old friendship. 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.
Sounds like you’re leaning hard on the despair of this character.
What I wrote on the back of the script when I first read it was “Everyone I love will die.” The story I’ve been telling, he enters it believing that. Therefore he’s living in a kind of isolation. He gets drawn to Japan by an old friendship and then finds himself in a labyrinth of deceit, caught up in the agendas of mobsters, of wealth, and other powers we come to understand.
Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.