James Mangold

The Wolverine

The Wolverine would have been a better movie without studio meddling. I’ll say that again in a language that Fox can understand: The Wolverine would have made more money if the studio hadn’t messed with it. I have no idea if that last part’s true (considering that it made $141M worldwide this weekend), but a few things make the first one gospel. For the most part the movie eschews the kind of planet-destroying high stakes that have become the staple of the genre (and the summer), but while that’s refreshing, it gets into some serious trouble in the third act. A finale that reeks of studio notes visible on the screen. When it comes to primer’s on how to blow a good story, X-Men Origins has this beat, but it’s still got a few solid lessons. To describe those lessons, there are going to be some spoilers. 

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The Wolverine

With the exception of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, no single superhero has seen more screen time than Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Since he was spotted on the set of Bryan Singer’s genre-propelling 2000 release X-Men wearing yellow spandex (a costume that would later be changed due to internet outrage), Wolverine has been Jackman’s role to own. From that first X-Men movie to the third, in which he was forced to end the life of his love Jean Grey, Wolverine has always been a central character to modern X-Men cinema. But unlike the armored billionaire Tony Stark, whose worst outings have been no worse than average (ahem, Iron Man 2), Wolverine has had some real stumbles — namely 2009′s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It was the kind of critical and fan-disappointing quality control disaster that would kill a lesser franchise. But like its central character, this is a franchise that heals well (and makes money despite itself), so Fox was willing to give it another shot. Luckily for fans, The Wolverine delivers where the previous outing failed, giving us what could very well be the defining cinematic appearance of Hugh Jackman as Logan.

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The Wolverine

When director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman took the stage for their Q&A with “a few clips” at Comic-Con, they had some baggage to confront. Jackman, especially, acknowledged the many, many, many shortcomings of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Mangold and Jackman discussed wanting to deliver the Wolverine, hence the title, The Wolverine. Fans have been waiting for the essential Wolverine tale and, for the most part, the two have succeed in giving it to them.

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wolverine_13

If nothing else, a new trailer for James Mangold‘s The Wolverine serves one purpose – to remind us that the Hugh Jackman-starring film is coming out during the already-crammed summer blockbuster season. No knocks on the clawed one here, but am I the only one who can’t seem to remember that we’re getting a brand new X-Men tale within the next two months? That can’t be good, right? Especially when this one involves Logan going to Japan, getting all emo, and meeting up with a bunch of cool Marvel characters, including the Silver Samurai. Shouldn’t this be more on our radar? Wait, did we say an emo Wolverine? Oh, that might be the problem right there. Snooze. After the break, check out the newest trailer for The Wolverine, you know, if you’re still interested.

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wolverine_13

Following the release of the first trailer for James Mangold’s The Wolverine, it wasn’t hard to tell that we weren’t impressed. We even found 6 scenes copied from earlier X-Men movies. Based on the comments we saw, you weren’t very impressed in what you were seeing from The Wolverine, either. After the abysmal ride that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, who can blame us? Today the folks at Fox have set out again into the cold wilderness of comic fandom on the Internet with another minute-long trailer for the Hugh Jackman-led quasi-sequel. It’s clear that they don’t want us to know the story yet, but they would like to remind us that Wolvie is still the only superhero on the block who’s interested in “screaming in someone’s face as he stabs them to death.” That’s our buddy. And in this new trailer, put together with footage shown at the recent CinemaCon exhibitors convention in Las Vegas, has plenty of action, less of the terrible CGI and a better look at the Silver Samurai. All of these are good things.

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Wolverine Little

That’s right. Two Wolverine trailers have dropped, and they’ll both make you long for the Darren Aronofsky version that never was. The international trailer has a bit more footage (including what appears to be a bar fight that gets pacified just when it’s about to get going), but both it and the domestic version are severely lacking in anything resembling energy or impressive action. That train fight near the end? Ersh. Flat, mopey line readings? It’s now down to blind optimism that this thing has any life to it. Check both out for yourself, and keep repeating “It’s only a trailer, it’s only a trailer”:

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The Wolverine Motion Poster

Here comes the rain again indeed. If there was any doubt that James Mangold‘s The Wolverine wasn’t going to be a seriously emo(tional?) outing for Hugh Jackman‘s eponymous mutant, please direct your eyes to the above motion poster from the new X-Men film. Lighten up, Wolvie, good God. At least Logan’s got his bone claws all shined up nice? Want to see the motion poster actually, uh, in motion? Just give the poster a click! The Wolverine opens on July 26, 2013. [Facebook]

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Mark Millar

Fox hasn’t always been the most successful studio, as far as adapting Marvel comic books is concerned. Though their 2000 film version of X-Men is largely responsible for launching the current comic book movie boom, their more recent mutant movies haven’t been all that hot, and their takes on the Marvel-created Daredevil and Fantastic Four franchises haven’t been able to produce anything remotely up to snuff. Their treatment of their superhero movies has gone so far off the rails that they’re even set to lose the rights to the Daredevil property, as their attempts to get a new film together haven’t kept pace with the end of their contract. That doesn’t mean that Fox’s days of making Marvel movies are over, though. They’ve still got two more X-Men movies in the works in James Mangold’s The Wolverine and Matthew Vaughn’s  X-Men: Days of Future Past, and they’ve made a new commitment to taking another crack at the Fantastic Four franchise by bringing Chronicle director Josh Trank on for a reboot. That’s some powerhouse talent paired with some potentially lucrative material. And today Fox announced their next step toward getting their Marvel properties back under control: they’ve hired veteran comic book creator Mark Millar to come on as a creative consultant for all of the House of Ideas characters that are still under their control.

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The Wolverine has had a long and storied production history. It’s had changes of shooting locations, changes of directors, and probably a handful of other stumbling blocks that we’ve all forgotten put in front of its eventual release. But work on the film has finally been underway for a while now, and some real progress toward its July 2013 release must actually be being made, because the film’s official Twitter account has just unveiled its first official still. So, how does it look? It looks like what one would expect. It’s long been understood that this new Wolverine adventure will take the character to the land of the rising sun, and, sure enough, this poster features Hugh Jackman looking jacked, sporting Wolverine’s adamantium claws and scruffy facial hair, and standing in front of an out-of-focus shrine that looks vaguely Eastern religion-y. That pretty much nails the whole checklist for advertising a Wolverine in Japan movie. Check out the full version after the break.

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wolverine with claws extended

If you’re anxiously awaiting Wolverine, or if you just love hearing Australian accents, this video from News 7 has both. The production headed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) is currently filming in Kurnell, and  the local news caught some excellent looks at a WWII Japanese POW camp that looks very, very beeg. The character’s X-Men Origins entry was a giant mess, but after so much off-and-on development as well as hype surrounding the Christopher McQuarrie script that takes its cues from the seminal Frank Miller/Chris Claremont mini-series set in Japan, it’s just good to see filming underway. Plus, the set looks impressive. [JoBlo]

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UPDATE: Collider now reports that “talks have broken down” between Biel’s people and the studio, so Biel is no longer in the running for the role. After a handful of announcements came out a few days ago filling the roles of Hugh Jackman’s new love, father-in-law, partner, and arch-enemy for his upcoming Japan-based adventure The Wolverine, it looked like all of the big parts in this film were probably close to being taken. But some new casting news that hit today might be the biggest yet. Twitch reported earlier in the day that director James Mangold and company had offered Jessica Biel the role of the villainous Viper, and Deadline Madripoor has since taken things a step further and reported that she’s officially been cast. So, who is the Viper? She’s a Marvel villain with a long history and complex relationships with several of the other characters who appear in this story. Part terrorist, part secret agent, Viper was an operative trained by the evil organization Hydra, who you might remember as appearing in last year’s Captain America: The First Avenger. She has no real superpowers, but she’s ridiculously good at all things deadly, with poisons being something of a specialty. Think of her as a more evil, less Russian version of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.

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UPDATED: ComingSoon throws a real wrench in (some of) our awesome speculation with news that Will Yun Lee has joined The Wolverine as Kenuichio Harada, otherwise known as the Silver Samurai. Read on, though, as we can still have a lot of fun with our initial thoughts. Casting appears to be underway for James Mangold’s upcoming entry into the X-Men franchise, the Japan-set solo story of the world’s scruffiest mutant, The Wolverine. Of course, we already know that Hugh Jackman is on board to once again star as the title character – that’s pretty much the only thing that’s been set in stone about this project since development began an eternity ago – but now ComingSoon has some scoops on the names that will be making up the gaijin’s supporting cast, and if you know anything about Wolverine’s Japanese past, these are some big roles. Ralph Lauren model Tao Okamoto is set to play Mariko Yashida, a young Japanese girl who Wolverine falls in love with and becomes engaged to, while relative newcomer Rila Fukushima is on board to play Yukio, a sort of ninja-trained thief who often works as the clawed Canadian’s ally. The next bit of news is a little bit confusing. Listed as being cast are two more characters, one named “Shingen” and one named “Yashida.” In the Wolverine comics, the young bride Mariko has a father who is named Shingen Yashida – the head of a once great clan who disgraced their name by turning them into […]

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He hasn’t even started shooting yet on the next Hugh Jackman-starring superhero movie The Wolverine, but director James Mangold has already got his next project ready and waiting. Mangold and his producing partner Cathy Konrad have procured the remake rights to an Icelandic film called City State, which was something of a crime film, and Mangold intends on directing said remake himself. I don’t even think that City State has been released in the States, so I don’t know anything about it, but it was made by a filmmaker named Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, and according to the Mangold story that appeared on Deadline Heimaey it tells the story of four lives that intersect when foreign drug lords try to take over the Icelandic drug trade. The four characters include, “ … a crooked police captain in love with a prostitute, an aging crime boss with a heart condition looking to get out of the game alive, a mechanic determined to avenge the death of his unborn child, and a female cop who is attacked by thugs and takes matters into her own hands.” Probably my favorite thing that Mangold has done is Copland, which was also a character piece set largely in a criminal underworld, so it sounds to me like this project would be a good fit for him. The Wolverine I’m still kind of worried about though, because his work on Kate & Leopold did NOT convince me that he could direct Hugh Jackman as a believable […]

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During a little sit down meeting of the minds with MTV, Hugh Jackman and one of MTV’s interviewers talked turkey about the upcoming X-Men spinoff The e and what sort of rating Jackman and director James Mangold would be shooting for. The big, headline grabbing news is that there is actually talk of an R-rated Wolverine on the table. During their discussions, Jackman and Mangold have acknowledged that, “There’s such great temptation to make an R-rated Wolverine. I’ve always felt that. I know a lot of fans would like that. I totally get it. If there was ever a superhero that was going to be R-rated, it’s Wolverine.” These are going to be exciting words to hear for a lot of comic book fans, and many will probably come away from the interview spreading the word that an R-rated The Wolverine might happen, but I’d like to throw some cold water on that. When speaking further on the subject Jackman says that the problem with making an R-rated superhero movie is that, “In the last ten years I’ve also met many 12, 13, dare I say 10, 14, 15-year-olds, who for them Wolverine is not just cool, you see it in their eyes, he’s everything to them … you’d need to have a really good reason to exclude those fans.” Despite the quality of the reason I just don’t think there is any way that any studio anywhere would ever exclude the teen and tween crowd from a Wolverine movie. […]

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When Bryan Singer’s first X-Men came out, pretty predictably Wolverine became the breakout character of the film. Wolverine has been the most popular X-Man for decades now, and even though it had some other flaws, since that first film nailed the writing and casting of the Wolverine character so well, it was bound to be a success. Two X-Men sequels later and the Wolverine lovefest was still ongoing, so the character ended up getting his own spinoff movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That movie was such a conceptual mess and creative failure that I didn’t imagine I’d ever want to see another go around of Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in this X-Men universe again. It started out good, but then you ran it into the ground. Let’s all move on. But then the impossible was announced. Darren Aronofsky would be making a sequel called The Wolverine, it would have little to nothing to do with X-Men: Origins, it would be set in Japan, and it would very closely follow the first Wolverine in Japan limited series from the comics. Holy heck, I desperately wanted to see a Wolverine movie again. Unfortunately, over the course of the development of this film, everything that initially excited me about it has been systematically stripped away from the concept. First the director, the man whose name got me excited about this movie in the first place, dropped out of the film because he couldn’t spend so much time shooting in Japan. That was a devastating […]

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It didn’t take long after the character of Wolverine got added to the X-Men back in 1975’s “Giant Size X-Men #1” for him to take the pop culture world by storm and become one of the most beloved and prolific characters in comic book history. By the time 1982 rolled around, the character was so big that he was ready for his first solo title, and so a Chris Claremont-penned Frank Miller-penciled four issue mini-series was released seeing the character travel to Japan, get engaged to a woman named Mariko, and battle some modern day samurai. That first Wolverine in Japan storyline showed the most human side of the character we had seen yet, and over time it has become pretty seminal. That’s why the upcoming sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, adapted to the screen by The Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie and simply titled The Wolverine, will be drawing on it heavily for inspiration. But we’ve known all of that for a while. What is the new news on the development of this project? The Wolverine used to be a highly anticipated upcoming film back when Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct, but once he dropped off the hype machine died down quite a bit. The last we heard about it, 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold was most likely to be stepping into Aronofsky’s shoes, and shooting would most likely begin in fall. That news was met with a collective “meh” from the online world, so we haven’t […]

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Not too long ago Fox’s supposed filmmaker wish list for “The Wolverine” was leaked. For the most part, it was filled with fairly safe choices. To no great surprise, the studio has decided to go with one of those many easy picks: director James Mangold. While the director hasn’t signed on yet, an offer has gone out and Deadline Fukushima makes it sound like a sure deal. The idea of going from a guy like Darren Aronfosky to Mangold is disheartening and disappointing, but worse switches could happen. He’s a perfectly competent journeyman filmmaker. Walk the Line, Cop Land, Identity, and 3:10 to Yuma are all solid films, and even Knight and Day ain’t too bad. We probably won’t be getting a Wolverine film as ambitious as what Aronofsky would’ve done with the material, but I’d much rather see the director of 3:10 to Yuma than Tokyo Drift take on the Japan storyline. The Wolverine is expected to shoot this fall with the use of Christopher McQuarrie‘s (The Usual Suspects) draft.

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Variety has gotten its hands on the director shortlist for The Wolverine, and it, mostly, consists of fairly safe and obvious choices. But, like many of these lists, a great and head scratching question is posed: Does Hugh Jackman and company actually know what type of movie they want to make? When a list of favored directors features the likes of Mark Romanek and the director of Tokyo Drift, it boggles the mind. Here’s the apparent list of favored options that, per usual, you should take with a slight grain of salt:

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Kevin and Neil meet up again in the Magical Studio in the Sky to talk about their lackluster thoughts on this week’s new movies… and boobs. They also contemplate why movies aren’t making as much money this summer and what are the best sandwiches they have ever had.

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June Havens (Cameron Diaz) is trying to make it back home to Boston when she bumps into Roy Miller (Tom Cruise), a secret agent who has gone rogue with something very important to the federal government. As much as he tries to avoid her becoming a part of the game, she ends up either having to be glued to his side or taken out by some very bad men. The two will have to secure a young inventor (Paul Dano) and expose or kill the true rogue agent before it’s too late.

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