The Wolverine: Unleashed releases on Blu-ray next Tuesday. As you know from Dan’s The Wolverine review this past summer, the film does some massive course correcting from Logan’s previous solo outing, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Thankfully, Fox selected a deft filmmaker that can handle action, drama and, most importantly, a character driven film. James Mangold’s filmography on paper may not scream, “Give this guy a superhero movie!” But, the director’s approach to “Wolverine’s Day Off” adventures made for an engaging and exciting return to form for The Ol’ Canucklehead.
Mangold’s director’s cut of the film will see release next week as The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition. The extended cut isn’t just putting in a few extra deleted scenes that should have stayed deleted. While I loved the movie in theaters, this new cut organically tells a fuller story by humanizing the love story, giving the supporting cast more screen time and ratcheting up the action with a couple of stellar fight scenes.
We caught up with Mangold to talk about the Wolverine, why the feeling of something being “comic-booky” shouldn’t be a thing and how you approach Wolverine as a solo act.
Nerdist: Your version of Logan had room for growth and wasn’t handled in a way that other’s might have. How did you approach a character that everyone thinks we know everything about?
James Mangold: Well what was important to me was to make him seem real. I felt like I wanted Hugh to go deeper. Nothing comes without the sacrifice of something else. It felt like when I looked at the movies that to me were kind of templates or kind of ideals that had a Wolverine energy, I’ll give you an example, Outlaw Josey Wales. He’s funny, but not that quippy. In other films it works great, but for me, there’s a point when it starts turning into a sitcom if he’s just always got something funny to say. So there’s a point at which it’s not real anymore. It’s now a funny cop show. To me, in terms of honoring the comic book, just honoring the intensity of the character in whatever way I could, surface or from the inside out, to try to get to something real. As opposed to something… I think when people think they need to turn a comic book into a movie, they feel like it’s got to be comic booky. Whatever that means, I don’t know. But when I was thirteen and reading comic books, they didn’t seem fake to me. They didn’t seem over done, hyperbolic or full of shit, they seemed very real. So there’s this kind of pulpy idea, that it can be pulpy and toungue and cheek, that has absolutely no appeal to me.
Part of what I like about Wolverine is he’s just bad ass and he’s disgusted with a world that is pretty disappointing, frankly. I could pretty much see the world his way almost any given day.
Nerdist: I very much like the original cut of the film that was in theaters, but in the “Unleashed Cut” you’ve re-added full scenes, little extra moments and created richer characters because of that. Mariko and Yumiko especially. Are you happy that people are getting to see, not necessarily a better picture, but a bigger picture of these characters?
James: I think you put it really well. I think the reality is that you’re a very specific kind of audience, but when you’re playing to a general crowd that isn’t quite as immersed in this stuff. They may not want so much. The trick is always, like a comedian on stage, you can only play as long as your material’s getting a reaction. You could be playing in Des Moine and then go to Omaha and the same material isn’t working. But I love the idea that people can see this world extends deeper in all directions. I love, as a filmmaker, that the work we did, whether it made the theatrical cut or not, is good work. There’s good acting, there’s good writing, there’s good staging, there’s good photography. I love that it can be seen.
Nerdist: Is the “Unleashed Cut” the version that was seen in other countries?
James: Yes, the film you saw is the film I believe played everywhere in the world. Except Japan where there were a couple trims per the Nagasaki action, but that’s it. I don’t know, something could have happened in Venezuela I don’t know about. As far as I know, that theatrical cut played around the world.
Nerdist: The added snow blower scene is incredible. That scene has an eastern revenge film feel to it. Was that an influence?
James: Absolutely. I’m voracious. There’s probably nothing I haven’t seen. All of it feeds me. I can’t say- you don’t go around saying, “I want to do this from Old Boy or this from [another film]. But the idea that the movie start in a very real place and kind of kept ratcheting up further and further into kind of a fever dream. Between the ninja sequence and the lab and the Samurai, it seemed to me, very much like my experience reading comic books, which is a very real world that gets madder and madder and crazier and more imaginative. And that to me was really valuable.
The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edtion is available on Blu-ray on Tuesday, December 3rd.