After decades and decades of fighting wars, past, present, and future, and even other mutants, the idea of Hugh Jackman’s last X-Men advengure as Wolverine stemmed from the theme of family. What would it be like for an older, disgruntled Logan to take care of his dad while learning he has a daughter of sorts?
This, as we learned last weekend at the Logan press junket while chatting with co-writer and director James Mangold, is how the followup to The Wolverine – the #OneLastTime Hugh plays the iconic superhero – came to be.
In our interview with James Mangold, who worked previously with Hugh Jackman not only on 2013’s The Wolverine but also over a decade earlier with Kate & Leopold, we talk about the story pitch, how a minimal amount of supporting mutant characters were chosen to appear in Logan, why it doesn’t make sense for Wolverine to suit up in the classic yellow X-Men costume from the comics, and whether this really is the end of the line for Jackman’s Wolverine.
First of all, congratulations. I think this movie is something fans have been waiting for a long time. It’s very, very special. I have to ask, after you did The Wolverine when did you land on knowing this would be the next story you told?
James Mangold: A couple months after we wrapped, I had this idea, it was originally that Charles [Xavier] and Logan were hiding out in a Kentucky bourbon, an abandoned bourbon factory and that he was in a tank, an abandoned tank in a bourbon factory. The idea occurred to me to make a movie about family and the idea of using, I kept doing more and more research. The Greg Kyle “Innocence Lost” series about X-23 caught my attention and the idea of doing a movie in which we find Logan with a daughter seemed like a really interesting family dynamic – caring for ailing dad and then discovering you have a kid. Particularly for a character like Logan, who is so loathed to having any intimate connections with anyone, it seemed like the ultimate set of obstacles to put in front of him, much bigger than a super villain from another planet.
Like you say, we are introduced to X-23 but we also but we also get to see Caliban and Xavier. Are there any other mutant characters you were thinking about including?
James Mangold: We toyed with it but one of the things I’ve been very conscious of is that I think one of the reasons a lot of different movies are in the comic book arena these days, is they keep operating from the “more is more” philosophy. If we made a movie last time about four superheroes, this time it’s gonna be seven, next time it’s gonna be twelve. And there’s a kind of arms race in visual effects and cast and I don’t think it necessarily yields more. Do you the math If you have a 120 minutes and you have seven actors with principal roles, then they’re each getting six minutes to themselves, or to their storylines. If you make a movie about two or three characters, the movie is really owned by these characters and you get to go deep with them. That was our goal.
With The Wolverine: Unleashed Edition, we get that great tease, of course, of the yellow costume – was there ever any pressure or desire to, “Fine, let’s suit him up in the yellow”?
James Mangold: I always feel a certain contingent of fans who are yearning for it. But the biggest block I’ve had – I’m willing to take the heat for it – is that, I can never get past, being a writer for these movies as well, that Logan is the least narcissistic of all the superheroes, any kind I can think of – Marvel, DC or anywhere else. What I mean by that is, who puts a special branded outfit on when they do good deeds? And why? The only reason you do it is so you can have some sort of trademarked claim and get credit for what you did. Nothing seems less Wolverine-like than the desire to put on a trademarked outfit , particularly canary yellow, and kind of prance about doing good deeds and have people go, “Oh my God! It’s The Wolverine!” At least the Wolverine, as I see him, that’s a real struggle for me and always has been. I somehow feel that if somehow we ever put Hugh [Jackman] into one of those outfits, people would not be happy. Essentially, it’s something that lives on the page and I’m not sure could live anywhere else.
My Last question, now that you’ve wrapped up Logan’s story arc, and essentially this trilogy, are there still other Wolverine stories to tell in other timelines and universes, or is this the end?
James Mangold: Well the character is universal. I can’t imagine with a character this successful, like Batman, Superman or any other, that at sometime someone won’t come back around again. But I think that in terms of the Hugh Jackman line of doing this role, I think that we’re done.
In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.
James Mangold directs Logan from a screenplay by Michael Green and Scott Frank & James Mangold and astory by David James Kelly and James Mangold. Logan is produced by: Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner, and stars Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, and Dafne Keen.