After establishing in October that The Wolverine isn't another prequel to Fox's original X-Men trilogy, director James Mangold has now offered some insight into its place in the big-screen universe.
"It’s set after X-Men 3, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to X-Men 3," he tells EW.com. "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."
Asked why he chose to set the film after the others, Mangold continues, "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."
The director also reveals The Wolverine is "a very admiring adaptation" of the 1982 Marvel Comics miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and includes the same story beats. However, he also looked outside the source material for inspiration.
"One of the models I used working on the film was The Outlaw Josey Wales," Mangold says. "You find Logan and his love is gone, his mentors are gone, many of his friends are gone, his own sense of purpose – what am I doing, why do I bother – and his exhaustion is high. He has lived a long time, and he’s tired. He’s tired of the pain. [...] What I wrote on the back of the script when I first read it was 'Everyone I love will die.' The story I’ve been telling, he enters it believing that. Therefore he’s living in a kind of isolation. He gets drawn to Japan by an old friendship and then finds himself in a labyrinth of deceit, caught up in the agendas of mobsters, of wealth, and other powers we come to understand."
The Wolverine, which opens July 26, stars Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima and Brian Tee.