James Mangold Explains How ‘Logan’s Timeline Fits In (or Doesn’t) With Other ‘X-Men’ Movies
With its trailer debut this morning, Logan solidified itself as something separate from the wider X-Men cinematic universe. With Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart the only two connections to the other X-Men movies, we’re left a little puzzled as to how Logan fits into the wider timeline of events. Luckily, director James Mangold is here to explain away our confusion, and why he picked that particular Johnny Cash song.
Logan looks like something between a straight-up action movie and a superhero flick: in the not-so-far future, mutants are somehow scarce, and Wolverine and old man Professor X have to save a mysterious girl from Reavers, whose task it is to hunt down and kill all mutants. In an illuminating interview with Empire, Mangold talked a bit about how Logan differs from other X-Men and Wolverine movies, starting with the song they chose for the debut trailer.
Obviously I have a connection and a fondness for Johnny Cash, and his tone and his message and his music. But the real driver in all these decisions is trying to separate ourselves, in an accurate way, from the other superhero movies. We think we’re going to deliver something a little different and we want to make sure we’re selling audiences on the difference. Sometimes even when a movie’s a little different, the studio’s trying to market the movie just like all the others. [Cash’s] music, in a way, separates us from the standard, bombastic, brooding orchestral, swish-bang, doors opening and slamming, explosions kind of methodology of some of these movies.
Much like Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi is choosing to see the other Thor and Avengers movies as more guidelines than actual rules, Mangold views Logan as something a little more separated from the X-Men movie universe.
Hugh and I have been talking about what we would do since we were working on the last one, and for both of us it was this requirement that, to be even interested in doing it, we had to free ourselves from some assumptions that had existed in the past, and be able to change the tone a bit. Not merely to change for change’s sake, but also to make something that’s speaking to the culture now, that’s not just the same style — how many times can they save the world in one way or another? How can we construct a story that’s built more on character and character issues, in a way as if it almost wasn’t a superhero movie, yet it features their powers and struggles and themes?
So, where and when are we, when we meet Wolverine one last time?
We are in the future, we have passed the point of the epilogue of Days Of Future Past. We’re finding all these characters in circumstances that are a little more real. The questions of aging, of loneliness, of where I belong. Am I still useful to the world? I saw it as an opportunity. We’ve seen these characters in action, saving the universe. But what happens when you’re in retirement and that career is over?
Did you catch the shot of those gnarly scars in the trailer? That was intentional.
One of the things we all thought about as we worked on this film is, well, we don’t want to rebuild everything. We want to have some questions. In order to make a different Logan, and a different tone of a Wolverine movie, we felt like we couldn’t hold on to every tradition established in all the movies religiously, or we’d be trapped by the decisions made before us. So we questioned whether Logan’s healing factor causes him to heal without even a scar. We imagined that it may have when he was younger, but with age, he’s getting older and ailing. Perhaps his healing factor no longer produces baby-soft skin. So we imagined he heals quickly, still, but it leaves a scar. The simple idea was that his body would start to get a little more ravaged with a kind of tattooing of past battles, lacerations that remain of previous conflicts.
With audiences reaching a point of superhero movie saturation, it’s about time for something different. Logan looks like just the kind of non-superhero superhero movie we’ve been waiting for.
Logan opens in theaters March 3, 2017.