If you're like me, you felt burned by X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. It just wasn't very good, and did a disservice to the character we all love. I don't think the filmmakers took the character seriously enough. Fans of Logan were wanting a long time to see a full-length movie on the character, and when X-MEN ORIGINs: WOLVERINE didn't deliver, I think that many people have tuned out of this new project as well.
I also think that at this point Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine; yes, he's too tall, he's not as rough around the edges as the comic book character, but he's treated fans with respect and he seems to have a genuine love for the part. Many actors seem to disdain these kinds of characters in science fiction and fantasy, especially if they started out in movies by playing them. Not so Jackman - he's embraced Wolverine fully, and that goes a long way towards how fans perceive him in the role. Even though he's not getting any younger, I hope it's quite some time before we see another actor fill that character's shoes.
But everything I'm hearing about THE WOLVERINE under the helm of James Mangold has been great stuff. I've talked to some people who went on a set visit and they were quite impressed with the mood and the tone of the scenes they saw being shot. And Mangold's new interview in Entertainment Weekly makes me feel even more confident. He's evoking THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, for Christ's sake, and that's a tall order. If that's the tone he's going for, THE WOLVERINE may be something quite special. I fretted a bit when Darren Aronofsky dropped out, but from what I'm hearing, Mangold seems to be giving the movie and the character the respect they deserve.
On THE WOLVERINE's place in the movie series:
It’s set after X-Men 3, but I wouldn’t call it a sequel to X-Men 3. 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.
On the character of Logan:
What I felt like I hadn’t seen as a comic book fan, was I felt I hadn’t seen Logan and his rage. That sense of darkness. Without getting into the Wolverine movie, which is an origin story, with the X-Men movies he’s part of a team, so he gets little scenelets, but they’re essentially team movies. The liberty I have making a film like this is I can find him. I’m not cutting away to catch you up on any of the Thunderbird team members. It’s his emotional experience, his trajectory, his sense of loss, and his own ambivalence about his powers and talents... The thing Hugh and I try to explore in this one is the most interesting aspect of the character — the never-ending nature of his life. His immortality. The fact he can heal from anything. That is a kind of dream for us mere mortals. But it’s interesting to explore what a curse that is.
On the tone of the movie:
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.
Mangold definitely seems to be saying the right things. We'll know when THE WOLVERINE comes out this summer. But I think this may well be the movie that fans have been waiting for. Perhaps I should have added this to my Most Anticipated of 2013...