INTERVIEW: Logan Producers On Expanding X-Men Franchise Boundaries


When "Logan" slashes its way into theaters on March 3, it will be the tenth film in the X-Men franchise and the ninth to feature at least an appearance from Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. The clawed X-Man has been at the forefront of two distinct trilogies of X-films (and he also took the lead in 2014's "X-Men: Days of Future Past") -- and with "Logan," his seventeen-year film journey is all coming to an end.

RELATED: Hugh Jackman Dashes Dreams Of Wolverine/Deadpool Team-Up

It's been known from the get-go that "Logan," the follow-up to 2013's "The Wolverine," would be Hugh Jackman's final appearance in his most iconic role. But the X-Men's potentially Wolverine-less future doesn't look bleak; in fact, Fox's corner of the Marvel Universe is only expanding in size. "Deadpool 2," "New Mutants," "Gambit" and further "X-Men" team films are all in various stages of production, ensuring that the future will still be full of mutant drama.

Ahead of "Logan's" premiere, CBR caught up with two of the film's producers, Hutch Parker and Simon Kinberg. The pair touched on "Logan's" status as Wolverine's swansong, as well as teased more of what's to come from the franchise moving forward. As they reveal, there's pretty much nothing these mutants can't do.

CBR: I know "Logan" isn't the end of the X-Men movie franchise, but it is the end of Hugh Jackman's time as Wolverine. How much did knowing that ahead of time influence the film?

Hutch Parker: A lot, at least in regard to that character. Certainly Hugh's intention, Hugh and [director] Jim [Mangold] were talking about this dating back as far as the last 'Wolverine." That felt like the remaining obligation for the character. In every movie that we've done with Hugh, whether he's going to come back was always the same conversation and it was, if we can give him something interesting to play and if we can something he's engaged with. He obviously loves the character, but [can we give him] a storyline [he's interested in]. Yeah, we certainly want to. That was becoming harder and harder as time went on, and I think coming out of the last one, it was clear that we kinda needed to go for it.

We embraced the idea that it would be the last, his last. That was an incredible invitation, because it opened up a lot of doors in terms of tone, in terms of the emotionality and the ability to go to a place previously unthought of. All of that was pretty critical and something that was really important to Hugh, something that Hugh felt really strongly about. He and Jim were the perfect combination in terms of authoring that final chapter, with [screenwriter] Scott Frank and [producer] Simon Kinberg. It was really liberating, frankly, and the final challenge became living up to it by way of execution. For that, we had Jim.

Last year we had "X-Men: Apocalypse," which was set in 1983. This year we have "Logan," which is set in the year 2029. You guys can go anywhere you want to within this franchise and visit any time period. Are there any areas of the X-Men franchise you're interested in going to next?

Simon Kinberg: What's fun about the franchise is what you just said, which is we can go backwards, forwards and we have nearly 50 years of story to tell. That's one of the things we did with "[X-Men:] Days of Future Past," we reset the timeline obviously so that we could tell stories in the '90s, the 2000s and the 2010s, and that's a long time to explore. Part of what's cool about that is following the mainline X-Men movies of Professor X and Magneto. They're the primary characters, drivers of story, but also being able to tell these stories like "Deadpool," and potentially "Gambit" and "New Mutants" -- stories that take place within that timeline but are separate stories.

I think even something we've not talked about, but it's something I started thinking about recently was telling stories that precede the X-Men and that maybe come after "Logan" -- not just an X-23 story, but a story of what does the world look like and what do mutants look like. There's tons of X-Men and groups within the X-Men world that could exist and not contradict the timeline, but actually fit and live within that world. "Deadpool" was a good example of a film that was a standalone film that acknowledged, even in its funny jokey way, the X-Men.

X-Men Apocalypse Cast

You mentioned the main through line of X-Men movies starring Professor X and Magneto. James McAvoy recently posted a photo on Instagram of you two having dinner, and he wrote in the caption that he can't wait for the summer. Is there any news of you perhaps hanging out with James McAvoy on a movie set this summer?

Kinberg: There's nothing that we can officially say, other than it was really fun having dinner with James McAvoy because James McAvoy is a very fun man and we hung out a bit in London because we pit-stopped in London on the way back from Berlin.

Of course there are also a lot of rumors about a possible "X-Men" film possibly titled "X-Men: Supernova" that you may or may not be directing.

Kinberg: You have a very vivid and strong imagination.

[Laughs] I'm like Legion. In regards to the franchise's future, "X-Men: Apocalypse" showed us the creation of Wolverine in the Weapon X program and now, a year later, we're seeing Hugh Jackman's last appearance as the character. Are there any more Wolverine stories left to tell?

Parker: The truth is, we really have treated this as a final chapter. The idea of doing any other kind of Wolverine storylines so soon after [Jackman's departure], we really haven't gone there and I don't know that we will for a while. I don't have a specific answer to that. I suppose anything's possible, but certainly as someone that's been involved with these [films] in one way or another for the seventeen years, I do feel like -- I don't know if I'd know where to go that would be a worthy and continued advancement of our understanding of the character at this point. That's what would have to probably happen in order to invite another one.

Kinberg: I was also thinking about recently, this is a super random metaphor, it's rare to think of an example in movies and I don't think I can come up with one. I came up with one in sports, of someone going out at the peak of their powers. Not that he had a great Super Bowl, but Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl and then retired. This, I believe, is the best Wolverine movie. That's easy to say. I think it's arguably one of the best or the best X-Men movie. The fact that Hugh and Wolverine, at least for this moment, are going out in some ways on top creatively is something that Hugh wanted from the very beginning and we all aspired toward. We are all very proud that it's getting the response that it's getting and that it is acknowledged as the best of the Wolverine movies and the best that Hugh has been as this character. That's a hard thing to do 17 years into playing the same characters and seven or eight movies into playing the same character to find new areas, new nuances to play and a different way of playing them -- and I think probably the most accurate way of playing him compared to the comics.

Earlier you mentioned the "New Mutants" film, and we've so far seen an early animatic for the film and heard rumors about characters. Where are we at in terms of "New Mutants'" production?

Kinberg: [Director] Josh [Boone] is a huge "New Mutants" fan. I mean huge -- as much as I've seen any filmmaker be a fan of the source material, actually. He knows it inside and out. We are close to making that movie. The plan is to make that movie in spring or summer this year and it will come out next year. Josh has a clear idea about some of the cast members as well. We are very close to a very good script. The tone of that movie, in the same way that "Logan" is a different tone than "Deadpool," the tone of "New Mutants" has, like the comic, a sort of Stephen King aspect to it -- which is also something that Josh is really interested in and well-versed in. I think it'll feel different than the other films.

It's fascinating because while "New Mutants" was announced before "Stranger Things" happened, and now that Netflix show has caused a resurgence of interest in that style of story. Would you say "New Mutants" and "Stranger Things" have a similar vibe?

Kinberg: I think that "New Mutants" will be influenced by the same things that "Stranger Things" was influenced by. I don't think we will look at "Stranger Things" as a model. We look at the same models that they did, which is the Amblin movies and actually, weirdly, the John Hughes movies.

"Gambit" is also in the works and has been for a long time. Channing Tatum has been talking about wanting to play that character since the "White House Down" press tour in 2013, when he'd pull out playing cards and just campaign to play the character. "Gambit's" lost a few directors, but Channing seems so devoted to it. Are there any updates on that front?

Kinberg: We're working on the script and we're hoping, truly, I think that movie will probably shoot at the beginning of next year. Not this year, because we have quite a few X-Men movies shooting this year. I think the thing you said about his devotion is true, and is critical of these movies. The success of "Logan" creatively is about Hugh's demands, in the nicest possible way because he's the nicest man on the planet, his demands for making the movie as character driven and honest and human and relatable and real as possible. Channing feels the same way, sort of an obligation, to Gambit. And Ryan Reynolds felt that way about Deadpool. It's something that we are learning to listen to as filmmakers with these actors. If they can inhabit the role and they can bring a consistent tone to that tone, an original tone and voice to that role, then those movies are going to be successful.

Directed by James Mangold, written by Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold and David James Kelly, and starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen and Stephen Merchant, “Logan” arrives in theaters on March 3.

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