Set to hit theaters this summer, James Mangold's The Wolverine re-teams the director with his Kate & Leopold leading man Hugh Jackman. In a discussion today with EW, Mangold talks about the collaboration and about the specific period that the film is set in, following X-Men: The Last Stand in the franchise's big screen chronology.
"It’s set after 'X-Men 3', but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to 'X-Men 3'," says Mangold. "...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."
Mangold goes on to explain that, while story beats are borrowed from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller's Japan-set miniseries (specifically noting that Yukio, Viper, Mariko and Shingen will all appear), the overall project is something all its own that he likens to The Outlaw Josey Wales.
"What I wrote on the back of the script when I first read it was 'Everyone I love will die,'" Mangold continues. "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... 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."
Also starring Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima and Brian Tee, The Wolverine arrives on the big screen July 26.