The Wolverine hits home video today and its director and star are already beginning to develop a story for a followup. Neither director James Mangold or lead actor Hugh Jackman have signed with Twentieth Century Fox yet but they have agreed to work on a script until they get something "great" that'll make them both return. We expected as much after The Wolverine producer Hutch Parker told us it's up to them to deliver a story worthy enough of Jackman's talent and dedication.
The news over the last few weeks of their involvement is of no surprise considering their work together resulted in the second most successful outing for the X-Men franchise in theaters (partly thanks to 3D ticket price boost). What's also made headlines for the pair is a little fan service they secretly tossed into the Unleashed Edition of The Wolverine on Blu-ray.
Speaking with the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog, Mangold spoke a little more in-depth about The Wolverine's in-development followup and the legacy of its titular character. What will the unnamed Wolverine solo adventure would be about?
"I would just say it is always going to be about his relationships to other characters. We are very much trying to work with existing text. There are other great Wolverine stories out there but suffice it to say there are great texts about his connections to others, villains, characters from the lore and from the comics that we can bring out and have another great and meaningful adventure."
The Wolverine and its story of Logan heading to Japan and meeting Mariko and Yukio is taken from one of the classic early '80s Marvel Comics story by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. Next summer's X-Men: Days of Future Past also draws from an '80s story arc by Claremont. Mangold's hint about the Wolverine 3 being based around his relationships with villains and characters from the lore might be teasing at a story based on another fan-favorite arc from the books.
Could we finally see Alpha Flight on the big screen? Kitty Pryde and Wolverine team-up? Old Man Logan (I asked Hugh about that here)? Or perhaps a Magneto vs. Wolverine tale that results in the hero's adamantium being removed from his body a la Fatal Attractions? Wolverine vs. Omega Red?
What made The Wolverine different from the other superhero films of the year (Iron Man 3, Man of Steel & Thor: The Dark World) is that it wasn't about some grand event involving the world or world's leaders in danger, it was a character-specific journey. In the next movie, Mangold aims to keep it that way and offers an interesting explanation as to why:
"The simple thing is when the world is in danger. I think it is a cheat that a lot of movies do to create stakes, about how the world will blow up or a stadium or a planet or a region will blow up if x and y doesn’t happen by this time. Much more than the genre being tired, when every movies is about the destruction of the universe or the globe, it makes it hard to tell a meaningful story when the scale gets so huge, it dwarfs the characters."
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As for the superhero costume Hugh Jackman's Wolverine has yet to wear, the one that James Mangold included as an alternate ending on the Unleashed Edition of The Wolverine on Blu-ray?
"A lot of fans keep asking about when he’s going to wear his uniform. It’s a struggle for us in relation to question, because Logan’s personality as developed onscreen and in comics is one in which he hates publicity. The filmmakers, even on X-Men, have struggled with an outfit. Finding the rationale for a uniform when the character disdains self promotion, why he would put on some outfit that promotes himself as some kind of hero? It’s like Dirty Harry didn’t walk around with special outfit. There’s a difficult line to walk. He’s not a show off, he’s the last one to put on a team jersey. The flesh and blood character is very loyal to that iconoclastic rebel who doesn’t seem to be the first to don spandex. It isn’t something I’ve talked about much. Some fans may be frustrated, but we’re trying to be true to his character. Who knows whether that will change, I cannot verify and will not deny."
Mangold's words echo the issues we raised upon the reveal of the costume. While it's awesome and we're dying to see Jackman suit up in the yellow with the helmet-esque mask, such an event will require some smart storytelling to put it in context. Does Wolverine lead a team and get them to suit up eventually? Could that happen in the X-Force story that Jeff Wadlow (Kick-Ass 2) is currently writing for the studio? We've seen glimpses of Jackman's attire in X-Men: Days of Future Past and we know his uniform in that - like the other films to date - is not from the books and it wouldn't make sense for Wolverine to suit up in such a costume in his next solo adventure.
The Wolverine is now on home video, X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters May 23, 2014. Fantastic Four opens June 19, 2015.
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