It’s been a strange day in the “X-Men” movie universe.
Obviously, fandom is freaking out over Matthew Vaughn leaving “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” and I plan to take a deeper look at the post-Rothman world of Fox superhero movies in the days ahead. For now, though, I’m fascinated by a comment that Empire ran today as part of their exclusive visit to the set of “The Wolverine,” James Mangold’s take on the mutant that has been played since 2000 by Hugh Jackman.
At this point, I would not be shocked to learn that people are confused by the timelines and continuities of the “X-Men” series. After all, there’s the trilogy of films based on the Bryan Singer take on the characters, there’s the “Wolverine” solo film, and there’s last year’s “X-Men: First Class,” which appeared to overtly contradict several things in the already established movies. I’m not sure I quite understand how they’re supposed to connect on a story level if we’re meant to accept that they all take place in one movie universe.
Today, Empire ran some quotes from an upcoming James Mangold interview that’s part of their exclusive trip to the “Wolverine” set, and his quotes make it sound like he’s gone out of his way to remove this story from the equation, but in a way I wouldn’t have expected.
“Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all,” reveals Mangold. “Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there”s a tremendous sense of isolation for him.”
Okay… that’s interesting. We’ve seen set photos that indicate some of the film takes place in the early part of the 20th Century, so my guess is Mangold’s talking about the main storyline, the part that he’s calling “a Japanese noir picture with tentpole action,” and not every single second of the running time. His second quote makes things a little more clear.
“That”s something that for me was very important, that I land in a very specific place in his timeline,” says Mangold. “I wanted to be able to tell the story without the burden of handing it off to a film that already exists and having to conform to it. The ideas of immortality reign very heavily in this story and the burden of immortality weighs heavily on Logan. For me that”s such an interesting part of Logan”s character that is nearly impossible to explore if you have a kind of league or team movie.”
It would make perfect sense for Mangold to show us footage from the full span of Logan’s life if he’s trying to tell a story about how lonely immortality is. And it also makes sense that Logan would be haunted by thoughts of Jean Grey, a powerful and pivotal figure in his life. If the film is set in the future, that gives Mangold room to create a very stylized Japan, and it also lets us see a Logan who is burned out from several lifetimes of horror and sorrow. I liked the early drafts of the script I read, but this stuff sounds like it was all part of Mangold’s final work in prepping the movie. I think we’re in for a huge improvement over the first “Wolverine” film, and I look forward to seeing how this all comes together.
“The Wolverine” opens in the US on July 26, 2013.