Whether you’ve seen every X-Men film three times over or Logan is your first big screen encounter with Marvel Comics’ legion of mutants, the newest entry in the franchise is bound to surprise you. It goes without saying that Hugh Jackman’s latest foray with his hot-tempered antihero Wolverine is unlike anything we’ve seen so far in the X-Men series; the film’s great achievement, though, is managing to stand out as unique against its fellow superhero movies across the board. How director James Mangold managed such an unusual piece of work, as he explained to our own Dan Casey during a conversation about the film, is in approaching Logan not as his take on the X-Men universe, but as an X-Men story filtered through his overarching cinematic vision. The results, I can tell you, are something to behold.
In talking to Mangold and stars Jackman and Patrick Stewart, who returns to the screen as the inimitable Prof. Charles Xavier, Dan looked into the specifics of what makes Logan feel so much like a beast all its own. Part of it, as Mangold expressed, is the hard R rating. As Jackman put it to Dan, “I wanted to hit the berserker rage like we hadn’t hit it before.” Not simply a gimmicky exploitation of excess bloodshed and multitudinous curse words, the upped dosage of violence and coarse language works to great effect toward a heightening of the stakes. (I’ve seen Wolverine stick his claws in and out of countless baddies over the past 17 years, and have never once felt as affected by the ritual as I did while watching Logan.)
Another component is, of course, the acting. Though Jackman and Stewart haven’t exactly been phoning it in all these years, there’s something striking and new to be found in their chemistry in Logan. As Jackman told Dan, “There’s more drama in that first scene between us than maybe all the other movies combined.” If their performances alone aren’t testament enough to how seriously Jackman and Stewart took this particular outing, the physical toll the film took on both men should hammer the point home. Stewart’s decision to drop 20 pounds for the role and Jackman’s fainting spell during one particular action scene account for nothing if not devotion.
There’s much more that went into making Logan such a special piece of work. Watch our interview with Mangold, Jackman, and Stewart (with a quick cameo from Boyd Holbrook, who plays the film’s silver-tongued villain) in the video above, and catch the film in theaters on March 3.
Featured Image: 20th Century Fox