I feel like fans have been waiting for Wolverine to be unleashed. He’s been in an ensembles and even in the first Wolverine, it’s more comic booky. This seems darker in tone. Are we going to get a more R-rated Wolverine?
“I don’t know what I’d put the rating, but it’s definitely Wolverine unleashed. It’s much rawer, much more visceral. In pushing down Wolverine you can expect and will be, I hope, satisfied by how much more of the berserker you see.
He’s fighting more desperately in this and I think the challenges he faces, both internal and external, are deeper challenges and as a result it provokes a more rageful and berserker Wolverine, so it’s certainly our intention to fulfill that. I think the comic book does and that’s certainly the intention of the film.”
You talk about closing the door on the previous X-Men movies and we’re here now with Days of Future Past coming that’s more tied with the Wolverine. We know he’s a central character in that. Do you see the series converging together again?
“I don’t really know, honestly, because I’m not connected enough now to what’s going on at Fox. To me it was more that X1, 2 and 3 were sort of ‘of a piece.’ I think they did a superb job on First Class and that was a significant evolution in that franchise in finding a new cast of characters and embedding it in this universe. It’s one of the things that’ so unique to the X-Men – you really do have a universe to draw on, a universe that we all live in alongside, so there are limitless possibilities to where you can go.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they continued to both mine and look forward and continue to build and expand on the universe and yet never lose sight of the cast that got them there, the key component that got them there. How that marriage will work, I’d love to know but I don’t.”
I know you’re really mindful of what the fans are looking for. Fans obviously want to see, now that they’re seeing The Avengers, they want to see Wolverine as an Avenger. Do you think that could ever happen?
“I’d like to think so, but candidly, it’s people whose pay grades are high and I’m removed from who’ll make that decision. But you’d hate to think that that couldn’t happen. Greater problems have been solved.”
You were talking about the visceral experience and a lot of what we’ve seen highlighted today and heard about is the tone, the grittiness and how much more violent and action-packed The Wolverine is, can you talk a bit about how the 3D will enhance this experience?
“I think the best use of 3D is by way of immersing you in the experience. That’s really what it does well, it’s not when it shocks you. It’s what the heart was of [James] Cameron’s work, first on Avatar and then going back and converting Titanic, it was all about bringing you closer, bringing you more fully and deeply into the world. To the degree we’re exploring 3D, it will be with that in mind. To the action, I do think there is a significant evolution in terms of what you’re going to see from this. It is dirtier. It’s more visceral, more real. It’s kind of uglier in the ways that make you feel it and I think that’s fantastic. Taking the gloss of it and borrowing a page from Bourne, a little bit from French Connection or whatever references you want to use to. Jim’s often referenced for character and tone, The Outlaw Josey Wales. You’re touching on things that are taking seriously the issues that underpin their characters and I think that’s happening here, and Dave [Leitch] and his team have done a fantastic job of realizing that in the action context of this movie.
When you asked what are the distinguishing elements, my mind flashed to one of the things that’s most important and we hoped to be the most proud of – that’s an element that I really hope that people are as excited about as we are because I’m so excited by the material I’m seeing and by the step the film take sin alloowing it to be that tone. It feels like Wolverine unleashed and Wolverine grown up. There’s something about that marriage of tones that just feels like a big step. To your tonal question, that’s a big part of why the action is so special based on what we’ve seen. We’re doing a big sequence now but we’re now 4/5ths done so I’ve seen most of it and they’re doing a fantastic job.”
There’s a genuine sense of excitement around this and we know Hugh has wanted to do this specific story for years, and we hear that from a lot of the cast and the crew and this is like the Wolverine story, and you said yourself this is Wolverine unleashed, the Wolverine we’ve all been waiting for. Is there still room for Wolverine to do another solo story down the road or does his future lay with the team again?
“Absolutely, absolutely. This is a standalone piece. You guys know the story, it lives really neatly off by itself and doesn’t preclude anything else. It doesn’t preclude reconnecting. It doesn’t preclude other standalone stories. I think part of what makes Wolverine such an iconic character is that it’s an irresolvable conflict. His immortality and the emotional conflicts he has surrounding those issues are limitless in terms of where that character can go and where they would live and become an issue and engage so that, I think you’ve got – To Tom [Rothman]‘s credit, to Bill Mechanic’s credit – this is a well that can be mined for a long time. I think the challenge will be the obligation on the part of the filmmakers and the studio to make sure the stories are worthy of going back to the well. Certainly, Hugh’s been a good sport about it over the years he’s done this character. He clearly loves it to death but I do know that it becomes a storytelling obligation to make sure that this one will be a hard one to top, so that we can continue to serve up opportunities for him as a performer that warrant ‘yes, I want to put the claws back on and grow out my mutton chops and do my thing.’”
With this whole Mark Millar thing and him coming in as a consultant, there’s so much potential for what can happen, what would you like to see next from the Marvel side of Fox? We know Fantastic Four is in development with Josh Trank and Bryan Singer is back with Days of Future Past. Is Millar involved with this at all?
“He’s not. Understandably, we were way down the road. We were well into shooting before that happened. You guys know, when you pick the story and are writing the script, you’re setting the table so in odd ways it can be problematic to bring in chefs late in the game. His role really is to help to make sure they’re taking full advantage of what is a very, very important asset, and to see other opportunities where others might not. And clearly he will be invaluable to them in that regard although I think, when I speak to them now and look at the way they’re approaching the franchises, specifically films they’ve targeted within the X-Men universe, I think they’re on a great track. Bringing Bryan back is incredibly exciting. Josh, as a way to reboot and reimagine Fantastic Four is wonderfully creative and inventive. The bottom line for me goes back to stories and storytellers so as long as they are continuing to commit to top grade storytellers, be that new voices or established, I think this universe is in good hands. And they do seem to making a really concerted effort to do that which I think is fantastic.”
The Wolverine is directed by James Mangold off of Mark Bomback and Christopher McQuarrie’s screenplay. It stars Hugh Jackman, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Rila Fukushima.
The Wolverine hits theaters July 26, 2013. X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters on July 18th, 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your X-Men movie info.