Maybe you can’t kill Wolverine, but you can certainly make him suffer.
Hugh Jackman’s return as Logan the adamantium-clawed hero in The Wolverine (due July 26) takes place in Japan. And it follows the cues of a beloved comics series from 1982, created by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which explored the invincible hero’s tangled loyalties and alliances.
If Logan does have a weak spot to explore, it may be his heart. The story involves complicated relationships between him and Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a female ninja who works for crime boss Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), who … happens to be the father of Wolverine’s other love, Mariko (Tao Okamoto). Also in the mix is Viper (rumored to be played by Svetlana Khodchenkova), a female villain who has another love-hate relationship with Wolverine.
Director James Mangold talked with EW’s CapeTown about fidelity to the beloved source material, and trying to find a way to turn Wolverine’s invincibility against him.
How closely do you follow the Claremont/Miller comic book series that inspired this movie? Sampling the vibe and some images?
It’s definitely more. A lot of that story and a lot of beats from that saga are in there – and a lot of characters. Without being religious about it, I think it’s a very admiring adaptation. Obviously when you’re adapting anything you make some changes. But all the characters are there – Yukio, Viper, Mariko, Shingen, and Logan obviously. The whole cast of characters that exist in that world exists in our film.
Chronologically, this follows all the other movies featuring Wolverine. But the sense I’m getting is that you’re trying to reboot the character a little.
It’s set after X-Men 3, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to X-Men 3. You have a choice the second you enter a world like this with a huge amount of comic books, backstories, three movies, a Wolverine origins movie … You have decide where you’re going to exist in relation to all these other things, particularly if you’re working with an actor who actually played the character in other films.
So why did you choose to set yours after all those others?
Because of some of the themes in the Claremont/Miller saga. I felt it was really important to find Logan at a moment where he was stripped clean of his duties to the X-Men, his other allegiances, and even stripped clean of his own sense of purpose. I was fascinated with the idea of portraying Logan as a ronin – the definition of which is a samurai without a master, without a purpose. Kind of a soldier who is cut loose. War is over. What does he do? What does he face? What does he believe anymore? Who are his friends? What is his reason for being here anymore? I think those questions are especially interesting when you’re dealing with a character who is essentially immortal.
Then it was important for him to have that baggage from the previous movies?
It was only to my advantage to set it after the X-Men films because the X-Men had effectively ended at that point. A lot of the key characters had died. There was a sense if I’m locating this film not five minutes after the other movie, but a period of time after that last X-Men movie, I can find a Logan who is living separate from the world. He is no longer a member of some superhero team.
There’s also less certainty about how things turn out for him, which is something you don’t get when a film is a prequel.
I felt the most liberating thing about coming after the other movies is you don’t have to hand it off or end it in some way that meets up with a previous film. For creative freedom, I didn’t want to have to, essentially, land this film in Wichita because that’s where the next one takes off from. It helped me to be really free, and in some ways be more loyal to Claremont/Miller, without having to be tied to other films.