Wolverine director James Mangold thinks his new film is more comparable to his movie Copland than it is to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He maintains that there is a lot of characterization, stretches of dialogue, and scenes done entirely in Japanese. What is doesn’t have, he says, is massive city-destroying action scenes, as in the end of Man of Steel of the Avengers.
The story picks up after the end of X-Men: Last Stand, with our mutant hero Logan (Played for the 5th time by Hugh Jackman) living alone on the woods, mourning the death of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen). He then gets a request to visit a dying friend in Japan, sending Wolverine on what becomes a very personal and intense journey. Mangold says that this will be a more intimate story than any previous X-film.
Below is part of an interview that Mangold did for the Huffington Post about the film…
Q. I have to admit, I’ve always liked your movies, but I was a little gun-shy about a new Wolverine movie after that last one. A lot of people didn’t like the first one.
A. I also think the marketing — the trailers and stuff — are selling it straight, in a way. My own theory — I don’t think it’s bad or good because the movie is the movie — is that the trailers scare everyone a little in kind of your world. Because they’re selling to 14 year olds.
Q. After the screening, a few of us were discussing how the trailers are not representative of the movie.
A. I don’t think they’re after you [laughs].
Q. Fair enough.
A. I do what I can from my end, but they’re not quite giving away the fact that almost half of it is in Japanese with subtitles, are they? That’s a little secret!
Q. It’s a much more intimate story than I was expecting. It’s like the opposite of “Man of Steel.”
A. I haven’t seen it.
Q. In other words: There’s no huge city-wide action destruction sequence.
A. Well, that’s intentional. Not in reaction to anything coming out this summer because I had no idea what anyone was doing — but it was my own reaction to feeling like (A) we didn’t have as much money as those movies and (B), to use the money and metaphor a little bit: I didn’t feel like I could afford or have the interest to enter a kind of CG arms race. And I felt that I’d lose, essentially, as a smaller nation. And as you know from my filmography, I don’t come from a sensibility where more is more.
Q. There’s a quiet scene in which Wolverine has been shot with about a dozen arrows. That is much more powerful than “17 buildings just fell down.”
A. That’s good. That’s nice. Yeah, the idea for me was to capture what I think all of us who read comic books all of our lives know. For me, it’s a kind of energy that is both pulpy — kind of a fever dream — but, also, feels real. When I read comics as a kid, whether they were in an alternate universe or not, they didn’t feel in an alternate universe. They felt like they were my world. What I’ve always loved about Wolverine is that his powers are essentially limited — he’s not Spider-Man or Superman.
Q. Though, he’s kind of Superman in the fact that he can’t be killed.
A. And we took that away.
Q. Do you think Wolverine is a more interesting character when he can be killed?
A. Yes. I mean, I think one of the first things I struggled with when I came on the project was I felt like the saga in Japan needed thematic pulling together. A movie has to be about something. It doesn’t have to have a message, but it needs to be about an idea. And when I read all of the materials, the first thing that I wrote down that I shared with Hugh and the studio, I wrote five words: “Anyone I love will die.” I always wanted to make a movie of “The Bicentennial Man,” which, obviously, was a movie — not my favorite and I don’t think fulfilled the promise of the story. So all of these things were in my head about “being eternal” and the pain of eternity. And that seemed to me something we could plug in … and also place the movie at the end of the “X-Men” films. They had no sense when they sent it to me where this took place …
Q. Originally I thought it was supposed to take place after “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” and before the first “X-Men.”
Q. I feel this works much better.
A. I felt like it seemed weird to me on some level. Although Logan is ageless, Hugh has an age. I have an age. By logic — by my own very weak male brain logic — this should go after everything.
Q. And it’s not like I’m thinking, “Oh, Wolverine might die” …
A. But, again, in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” they go back in time.
Q. Right. But if it takes place before the first “X-Men,” then I know that for sure. In this one, after “The Last Stand,” I don’t know for sure.
A. Well, I also think that stakes don’t occur in a movie intellectually. I think the kind of experience that you’re talking about where you sit in a movie and go, “He’s not going to die because I know they need him for a sequel,” is an intellectual exercise. The truth is, to say that to yourself, means you had a moment of doubt or a twinge of anxiety before you intellectualize it. And that’s all you’re after in a movie. To me, to have a hero who is literally impervious to everything, you only have one card to play over and over again, which is “people he cares about are in jeopardy.” So, that gets tired fast. So you then say, “What if he’s wishing for death and can’t have it? Have I seen a movie about a suicidal immortal?” Now I feel like something is almost interesting — here’s a predicament where you want out and you can’t get out. And that’s interesting to me.
Q. Entertainment Weekly called “The Wolverine” “the movie summer forgot.” I think after the nonstop hype of over-the-top summer movies, that might be a good thing.
A. What you’re saying is that we’re a little off of the radar. Yeah. And I think that our timing is good, given the kind of movie we are. Meaning that because the movie is more dramatic — and it does have action — but it’s not trying to even compete on the level of global destruction of the movie that came immediately before. I think that we’re a relief. I think we are.
Q. “Relief” is a good word.
A. To me, that was the goal. If I bring what I think I can do reasonably well, it’s not doing that. The reality is that I love to do the action, but I don’t want to do a movie that exists in a crescendo from beginning to end. The problem is, what you find yourself doing when you enter that vortex is you just have to keep making shit faster and louder. Because everyone gets desensitized and you’ve got to at some point pull out. The whole movie just can’t be in a dive. So, you’ve got to pull up the throttle at some point … we actually dare to go quiet. We dare to be intimate.