Damn, I really thought that we’d be on the receiving end of an adamatium-laced trailer for the latest film starring the Canadian berserker mutant in The Wolverine, but alas, no such footage surfaced during the festive break. While X-Men Origins: Wolverine may have been an underwhelming film that had the cajun mutant Gambit running around ruining everything, director James Mangold is taking a more practical approach with his spin-off film starring Hugh Jackman and and his handheld Gillette blades.
Namely, forget that that film ever happened, start fresh and head to the land of the rising sun.
Based on the classic 80’s tale about love, loss and ninjas in Japan, The Wolverine takes place shortly after Logan faced his greatest enemy, Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand. Mangold spoke to EW about the film, calling ti a standalone story that sees Logan on his own, without any black leather suited friends to call in for backup;
It’s set after ‘X-Men 3′, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to ‘X-Men 3′… [I chose to set it after those films] 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.
And Logan is going to have his hands full with the ladies in this film, from his first great love in the form of Mariko, who also happens to be the daughter of crime lord Shingen, through to an assassin with a wild side by the name of Yukio;
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.
And for a film set in the east, The Wolverine certainly does have quite a few cowboy elements in it. That’s something that Mangold confirmed, as mentioned one of the greatest western films of all time being used as an influence for his project;
An old friendship [puts the story in motion]. What brings him there is an old ally in Japan. We find Logan in a moment of tremendous disillusionment. We find him estranged. One of the models I used working on the film was The Outlaw Josey Wales. 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.
So far, I’m liking how The Wolverine is shaping up. Mangold has an opportunity here to craft something stylish and packed with decent content, without making it bloated like the first Wolvie spin-off was. It’s out in July and stars Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima and Brian Tee.