So, which is it? Is James Mangold planning to turn one of the most popular mutant franchises of all time into an Art House sleeper that doesn't play well on a Friday night? Or is he planning one of the greatest Western-mystery-superhero genre flicks ever concocted? Well, he hopes for the latter.
This is what the Knight and Day and 3:10 to Yuma director had to say about taking on the Marvel property for 20th Century Fox.
"You could actually just tell a story about this amazing character from the start, just the way they do when you really read a comic. You don't have to spend the first hour saying how they were born; you can actually just find them in an emotional space, in the middle of action, and what happens is you're not crowded with cutting to nine other action heroes."
James Mangold admits that he was very apprehensive about taking on the film once Darren Aronofsky dropped out, but he has since talked it over with the Black Swan director.
"I spoke to Darren a bit about it before I ended up taking it on. But I will tell you that when Darren stepped off, I was in the middle of doing a lot of other things, and when it was brought up to me, I actually didn't even consider it...Several months went by and I hadn't even really read it, and later when they came back to me and I kind of took it in, and a lot of that hand-wringing had kind of died down. What I saw was some really promising material, and to me an interesting character played by a great friend of mine who's a terrific actor, Hugh Jackman."
The director then went onto speak more about why he actually wanted to take on the project.
"Part of the reason I'm doing this picture is because it isn't a conventional superhero movie. It isn't an origin story, so I'm freed from that burden, and it also isn't a save-the-world movie, which most of them are. It's actually a character piece; I actually think it has more in common with The Outlaw Josey Wales and Chinatown, what we're doing, than the conventional, 'will Wolverine and his compatriots save the world from this thermonuclear device' question. It's an adventure following such a unique character in a really unique environment. The fact that half of the characters speak Japanese, this is like a foreign-language superhero movie. It's as much a drama and a detective story and a film noir, with high-octane action as it is anything like a conventional tentpole film. This movie is much more an intense psychological and action-packed character piece, that's much more about Logan getting lost in this very unique and insulated world of Japanese culture, gangster culture, and ninja culture," he said. "The fighting is going to be unique because it's all influenced by Japanese martial arts."
The Wolverine was released July 26th, 2013 and stars Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee. The film is directed by James Mangold.