Hugh Jackman first brought Wolverine to life in Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men and has since gone on to reprise the role in five films spanning the original trilogy, 20th Century Fox’s prequel trilogy, and a series of solo movies. Although the first standalone Wolverine movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was derided by fans and critics alike, Jackman teamed with director James Mangold for a second solo outing, The Wolverine in 2013, which earned fans back to the character’s series.
Now, Jackman and Mangold have reteamed for what will ostensibly be the actor’s final turn in the character’s iconic mutton chops and claws in the upcoming X-Men universe entry Logan. Set in a near-future point of the X-Men world, Logan is tasked with taking care of the ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) as well as the young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen), with some help from Caliban (Stephen Merchant). However, they’re forced on the run from the likes of Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook).
Last month, Fox held a footage showcase for upcoming 2017 releases, including Logan. In the case of Fox’s X-Men universe entry, the studio screened the opening act (roughly the first 40 minutes), which received largely positive reactions from those in attendance – read our breakdown here. Following the showcase, we sat down with Mangold to discuss the footage, and how the X-Men comics factor into the movie universe.
What really struck me about the Logan footage is how different it looks from all the other comic book movies out there today, was that a decision you made early on in the process?
Well, whenever you do a creative endeavor, you’re trying to do something different or new. Having now made several large scale movies, it requires sharp elbows and it requires a real mandate from the beginning to go, ‘This is what we’re making, it’s going to be this, not this, this, this, and this, a little something for everybody.’ [Logan] is going to be an adult film about comic book characters and that means the intensity of the violence, it means the intensity of the themes, the sophistication of the themes, it means that we’re not playing a movie for 12-year-olds and 40-year-olds at the same time. We are, in a sense, constructing a story that’s adult, and what that will yield is going to be interesting.
In order to do that, I knew I had to make a less expensive movie because no one’s going to give you the same amount of money for a movie that is going to be more focused in audience. But at the same time, that only meant to me a good thing, which was letting go some of the rampant CG craziness that’s started to go on in movies, that has got us to the point where I’m numb watching a lot of these movies. They look to me like they were all painted and nothing was real, and at a certain point when you can fly through the eye of a needle and you can sail through a keyhole and you can soar from the skies of whatever planet or age you want, audiences stop getting impressed… It’s amazing, but I find myself thinking about other things sometimes as I’m watching these hundred thousand dollar effects shots fly by one after the other.
The goal [of Logan] was to get into character because it’s the one thing when I think of the movies I can’t forget. The movies I can’t forget are characters I can’t forget, the moments — the moving moments, emotional moments, beats I can’t forget — and that’s what we were after first and foremost.
And one of the new characters is Laura, how did you adapt her character to the film and develop her relationship with Logan?
Well, more than anything, I wanted to explore issues — for a character like Logan who has been avoiding intimacy and human connection almost his whole life, what more interesting problem to have thrust upon him than being the caretaker for an aging father figure in Charles Xavier and potentially a father to an 11-year-old girl in the case of Laura. The demands that that puts upon him, I mean you saw the footage, that takes him basically up to the point where he’s suddenly on the road and saddled with both these characters the fun and joy and adventure and even moving nature of the movie that follows is this character contending with the responsibility to protect and care for both of these people.
A little bit about the action, we saw a lot of action in the first 40 minutes from the young Dafne Keen, did she do her own stunts?
Well she does a lot of her own stuff. She’s a remarkable actress, but she’s also a remarkably acrobatic kid and we did a lot of work both bringing her to location and training her weeks and weeks and weeks in advance but also we just got lucky. We found her in Madrid and she’s an incredible young actress – daughter of two actors themselves – that we could make real demands upon and not be resorting to either computer tricks or — well it’s also very hard to find stunt people for 11-year-old girls, so you need her to be able to deliver on a lot of levels.
In the footage, we saw a tease of the X-Men comic in Gabriela and Laura’s motel room, how does that fit into the universe that we’re going to see in Logan?
The world we find ourselves in when Logan begins is a world in which all the merchandising and all the storytelling about the X-Men exists. It exists in a sense the same way movie stars can read their biography of their golden age in the past or sports stars may look in magazines or see replays running on ESPN of their golden moments in the past.
That the comic books exist is a kind of recreation of something that happened and something that Logan is trying to run from — meaning he’s tired of the legend. He’s tired of the stories, he’s tired of the people recognizing him on the street, and he’s tired of someone holding out an action figure of him. All that merchandizing exists in the movie, and I think it produces a very interesting effect, much more real world which was our goal. What is it like to be one of these characters who’s been sold, packaged, reported on, and a hero to kids — might have posters on some kid’s wall — yet you’re not fulfilling it anymore, you can’t keep up anymore? And that’s the interesting question the movie asks.
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 Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, and Dafne Keen in the film.