'The Wolverine' Director James Mangold Chats 'X-Men' Setting & Rage
"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." Continuing the buzz for the 2013 summer season, EW.com writer Anthony Breznican conducted and posted an interview with The Wolverine director James Mangold. It's worth pointing out because it once and for all gets down to the setting, within the X-Men timeline, and where/how exactly The Wolverine fits in - without giving away spoilers. The full interview is worth reading in its entirety, but there are a few other specific selections I wanted to highlight for the sake of discussion.
Breznican's interview with Mangold covers a lot of the important details, confirming that "a lot of that story and a lot of beats from that saga are in there — and a lot of characters" come from Chris Claremont / Frank Miller's comic series. "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." But as for the exact spot within the X-Men timeline (especially with Days of Future Past in the works) that it will take place, Mangold also confirms it's after everything that we've seen, essentially completely standalone:
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."
So there you have it. No more questions necessary. One other area Mangold touches upon is the character of Logan himself, balanced with the progression of Wolverine cinematically throughout the years. He explains, in answering the question: "Is there anything about the earlier Wolverine films that you want to avoid?"
"What I felt like I hadn't seen as a comic book fan, was I felt I hadn't seen Logan and his rage. That sense of darkness. Without getting into the  Wolverine movie, which is an origin story, with the X-Men movies he's part of a team, so he gets little scenelets, but they're essentially team movies. The liberty I have making a film like this is I can find him. I'm not cutting away to catch you up on any of the Thunderbird team members. It's his emotional experience, his trajectory, his sense of loss, and his own ambivalence about his powers and talents."
This sounds awesome, honestly, I'm excited to see this. I'm wondering if we're going to see Wolverine just rage out, go berserker and attacked hundreds of samurai with his claws out, beast-mode style. Mangold also talks briefly about the importance of Wolvie's immortality, which has been teased before as a key plot point:
"The thing Hugh and I try to explore in this one is the most interesting aspect of the character — the never-ending nature of his life. His immortality. The fact he can heal from anything. That is a kind of dream for us mere mortals. But it's interesting to explore what a curse that is. Isaac Asimov did in The Bicentennial Man, a very different story, but a great story about a robot with a soul who has to watch as everyone he loves, including the woman he loves, grows up and dies – and he must go on for infinity missing her."
All of this is interesting stuff, and great to hear - I just wish we had some footage to go along with it. But my feeling is that's coming soon, I expect they want to have the very best stuff to show when it's finally time to show it. For much more on The Wolverine, Logan, Japan, Hugh Jackman and making movies, read the full interview on EW.com. We've seen some great coverage, including a live Q&A with Mangold & Jackman and some kick ass teaser posters, but now it's time to finally wait for the trailer reveal to get buzz going in 2013.
20th Century Fox has James Mangold's The Wolverine, starring Hugh Jackman, Brian Tee, Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hal Yamanouchi, scheduled to hit theaters starting July 26th this summer. We'll continue to keep you updated on The Wolverine - can't wait to see some footage.