Logan Director James Mangold on Making a More “Naturalistic” Superhero Movie

Whether you’ve seen Logan already or only the trailers for the movie, it’s evident that this is film is an entirely different beast than the X-Men movies starring Wolverine that came before it. What might be surprising to movie fans who don’t pay too much attention to the credits is that Logan, which is so gritty, character-driven and emotional, was directed by the same man who brought us The Wolverine, that very generic 2013 actioner with a bad twist ending that strayed too far from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller‘s classic Wolverine comic book mini-series that inspired it.

In a recent interview with THR, director James Mangold revealed that the R-rating was crucial to being able to tell a suitably violent Wolverine story in a complex and mature manner that kept its focus on the hero.

Essentially the movie is built on much more local stakes, smaller stakes, and with the hope and some confidence that we actually care more about characters when we have the space to get to know them and care what they care about and feel their predicament as opposed to just worrying about whether our world will survive the latest onslaught from whichever super villain has been painted blue and is wearing strange contact lenses.

Mangold went on to say that the R-rating also free him from the constraints of many superhero fhaving to include extraneous characters, vehicles and locations solely for the purpose of selling toys.

For me, getting the studio to agree to rated R is also when the movie stops being about the four boxes. The movie stops being a vehicle for moving merchandise. No one’s watching the film through the prism of a 9-year-old or a 12-year-old and hoping to be able to sit through this six-minute scene between Charles Xavier and Hugh Jackman.

It was also important to Mangold and everyone involved to eschew standard superhero tropes and strip away all of the extraneous artifice to put the focus solely on the main characters.

For both Hugh and I, and all of my compatriots and collaborators, the goal was to try and do something out of the box and try to undermine a lot of the kind of default settings of these movies in terms of story methodology, storytelling style, being more naturalistic, having less green screen, less visual effects, more analog, less characters, and not building the film on presumptions of kind of these kind of epic stakes that the world will be destroyed as we know it.

Logan is in theaters now.


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