IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director James Mangold Talks 'The Wolverine' Unleashed Extended Edition Blu-ray, Alternate Ending, and 'The Wolverine 2'

Wednesday, 20 November 2013 14:21 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Director James Mangold Talks 'The Wolverine' Unleashed Extended Edition Blu-ray, Alternate Ending, and 'The Wolverine 2'

The Wolverine is back … and now more violent than ever!

Available on Digital HD November 19th, and Blu-ray December 3rd is The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition, which features an unrated version of the hit film and marks the sixth time that actor Hugh Jackman has played the popular mutant on screen. The movie was directed by James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), and inspired by the beloved comic series written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Frank Miller. In fact, The Wolverine was so successful in its theatrical release, that it was recently announced a sequel is planned with both Jackman reprising his role as the title character, and Mangold returning to both write and direct

The film finds Logan (Jackman) living as a hermit in the Yukon still tormented after killing Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) during the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. He soon meets Yukio (Rila Fukushima), a mutant assassin sent to find him by the dying Yashida (Haruhiko Yamanouchi), a man that Logan saved during WWII who wishes to repay his debt before he dies. Logan accompanies Yukio back to Japan and upon arriving meets Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto), who will soon inherit the old man’s fortune. Yashida tells Logan that he would like to repay his debt by granting him the one thing he wants … mortality. When Logan turns down the offer a mutant known as Viper (Svetlana Khodchenkova) poisons him. Yashida soon dies and Yukuza gangsters attempt to kidnap Mariko at the funeral but Logan saves her. However, he is no longer healing as he once did. Now on the run, Logan must protect Mariko while dealing with his own possible mortality.

I recently had the pleasure of watching the new extended edition of The Wolverine during a press screening at the 20th Century Fox lot in Los Angeles. I was a big fan of the theatrical release but the new cut only enhances the movie and makes this the best version of the character fans have ever seen on screen. After the screening, I had a chance to speak with director James Mangold about The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition Blu-ray, as well as the film’s upcoming sequel. The accomplished director discussed the new extended edition Blu-ray, why he chose to only include the film’s alternate ending as a deleted scene, shooting the end credit scene, which scenes were extended or added, including Jean Grey in the movie, The Wolverine 2, how it might fit in to the X-Men franchise, and if it will be inspired by any other popular Wolverine stories from the comics.


Here is what James Mangold had to say about The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition Blu-ray, and The Wolverine 2:

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

IAR: To begin with, I recently had a chance to watch the extended cut of The Wolverine, as well as the alternate ending that will only be available as a deleted scene on The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition Blu-ray. The scene involves Yukio giving Logan a suitcase, which contains the classic yellow Wolverine mask and costume from the comic books. As a longtime X-Men comic book fan, I thought that was a perfect ending to the movie. As a director, why did you decide that this scene did not fit in the theatrical release or as part of the extended cut of the film?

James Mangold: Well, I think that is a good question. To be completely frank, the trick was that I made it up on set. Partly because of the way that fans like you had been hoping for something like this. I was trying to think of a way that this could some how make an appearance. I literally while we were shooting that scene asked the actors without a script to improvise this second way of doing it. I had the prop department make a box, which frankly when we shot it was empty because I didn’t have the money nor did I have the go ahead to build a Wolverine uniform at that moment in the movie.  But the trick was this, in a way I felt like I was handing off a little bit of a hot potato to the next movie, and I know that the studio felt that way. They thought that audiences would dig it but that it wouldn’t completely work. We did in fact even use it at a test screening. We screened it in front of an audience and the funny thing is that except for hardcore Wolverine fans, of which is a significant portion of the people coming, a vast majority of the audience ended the movie scratching their heads not understanding what was in the box. So you had A) the fact that there is going to be a significant, like 60% of the audience is not going to understand what the last image of the movie meant, so that is a problem. Then B) is that you are then going to create this huge expectation that Logan is going to be in that outfit in another movie immediately. I felt like it was a little bit passive aggressive and that for a little bit of juice at the end I was handing someone else, or potentially me, the problem of now dealing with what was in the box in the next picture. Lastly, it bumped when I then went to Montreal and shot the end credit scene that kind of hands off to X-Men: Days of Future Past. I went to the set of Days of Future Past because everyone was there, and I shot that scene on a weekend. But it bumped between the two. I tried and it was kind of weird in the sense that he was opening this thing and finding this uniform and then you are cutting the scene with him in this airport. It was kind of like, huh?  It made you think there was something missing. All of these things were at the forefront but nothing more than the anxiety that the studio had that I was somehow guaranteeing that the next time you saw him he’d be in it. So that is the honest journey of it. 


When I recently watched the extended edition of the film, it was difficult for me to identify which scenes had been extended other than the obvious added violence, and a scene where Yukio and Logan kill Harada’s ninjas with a snowplow followed by Logan lighting up a cigar. Can you discuss exactly what scenes have been added or extended for the new cut of the film?

Mangold: Well first of all there are many, many small additions of blood, and seeing claws penetrate and emerge from something with blood on them. There is a lot of stuff that got trimmed to get underneath the R-rating. So there was a point at which I saved our pure cut, which was more of the violence as we had designed it and the action as it had been laid out. So that is what you see here. The three most extended sequences that were added back are one, a large-scale ninja fight at the end, which you mentioned. Two, at the “love hotel” that Mariko and Logan stay at as they are fleeing from Tokyo, there is an attack by Yakuza thugs on Logan in which Mariko saves his life and establishes her ability with knives. That whole attack had been lifted from the theatrical version mainly due to ratings but partially to length as well. Then at the beginning of the movie thee are many more sequences and moments in Logan’s introduction to the world of Japan. But the most significant one is that you get a lot more of Hioyuki Sanada’s (Shingen Yashida – Mariko’s father) story with his father. The scene in which old man Yashida tells his son that he is not getting the company and that he is giving it to someone else didn’t exist in the theatrical version. So you are tracking a little bit more of the rivalry and the conspiracy story going on inside this family. 

Can you talk about your decision to include Jean Grey as a character in The Wolverine?

Mangold: Well, Jean Grey I wanted to bring in because I wanted Logan in his isolation at the front of the film to have someone to relate to. So the idea that his only real ongoing relationship is with a bear and with a ghost image of a women he loved gave him something to relate to. Movies play when characters interact. When you find a character like we find Logan, lost, a drift, emotionally bereaved, dark, grieving in the Yukon, you need to somehow get him doing something otherwise you’d need voiceover for fifteen minutes. So the idea we had was to use Jean Grey as a central force in his life and what he is grieving over is having had to kill her in the previous adventure. My first real contribution was to relocate the Claremont/Miller story after the X-Men film trilogy. There was to me a reason that he left the world behind. That reason being that then when my film opens, the X-Men are gone, Professor X is gone, Jean Grey is gone, they are all dead, and Logan is unhinged in a way without a connection to anyone. We used Jean Grey as a kind of haunting of the connections that he had that have gone away. 


Finally, the film’s end credit scene takes place two years after the ending of the movie, which seems like a great space for The Wolverine 2 to take place in. Is the idea that the sequel will be the continuing adventures of Logan and Yukio before he meets up with Professor X and Magneto in the airport?

Mangold: That is a good observation. I honestly have sketches and ideas, but there are many alternatives and that certainly is indeed a window that exists. 

Are there specific Wolverine stories from the comics that you will be drawing from for the upcoming sequel?

Mangold: Absolutely. I can tell you that in determining where we are going I’m not solely relying on my own imagination but also the imaginations that have spun great stories about Wolverine in the comics. 

Well, thank you very much for your time. I loved The Wolverine and I can’t wait to see the sequel!

Mangold: Thank you, man. I’m working on it now!

The Wolverine Unleashed Extended Edition wil be available on Digital HD November 19th, and Blu-ray December 3rd.

To read our interview with Hugh Jackman about The Wolverine at San Diego Comic-Con International 2013, please click here.



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