EXCLUSIVE: ‘The Wolverine’ Much More Intense, Says Director James Mangold

As a fan, following the production of “The Wolverine,” the follow-up to 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” has been a series of highs and lows. You cheered when Darren Aronofsky signed on as director, promising a much more serious take on Hugh Jackman’s character, and despaired when he left the project, saying he couldn’t spend so much time out of country. When James Mangold (“Walk the Line,” “3:10 to Yuma”) replaced Aronofsky this summer, it was unclear what direction the project would move in after a change in the director’s seat. Would it be the same darker, weightier version of Wolverine that fans knew from comics and expected from Aronofsky? How much of that film would remain?

MTV News briefly spoke with Mangold about “The Wolverine” during an interview about the Blu-ray edition of “Cop Land,” and the director enthusiastically shared his experience working on the film so far with Jackman on a Wolverine that’s “more intense than we’ve ever seen him.”

Mangold explained joining the project meant working with Jackman, someone he’s considered a friend for a decade now, since working together on “Kate & Leopold.”

“I was just really intrigued by the script and the project and the boldness of making a really personal Wolverine movie,” Mangold said while assuring fans that the “serious action” is still very much there. “But it’s also more of a journey for the character in a completely foreign land and more of a mystery and an adventure than it kind of is another save the world ’X-Men’ film.”

One of the most recent pieces of news coming out about the project centered on script re-writes, usually a sign of trouble, but Mangold said that the experience has been a completely rewarding one and one that has shed interesting light on a well-known character.

“I think it also goes more deeply into some really great questions about Hugh’s character and his journey and where he’s going,” Mangold said. The big question Mangold brought up was Wolverine’s relation with his immortality and how a person can begin to cope with that.

“In many ways, the storyline makes me think even of Asimov’s ’The Bicentennial Man,'” Mangold said. “The man who’s here forever must watch mankind make all of its mistakes and also lose everyone they ever love because we all either get killed or die in some way. We pass and they endure. At some point, do you ever get tired of it?”

For Mangold, diving deep into Wolverine’s character and giving him the time and development he deserves is something he says hasn’t been possible in an X-Men movie so far.

When Aronofsky was attached to direct, one element of Wolverine’s character that had been discussed was an intensified physicality and a more than rigorous workout routine for Hugh Jackman. The Aronofsky Wolverine was going to be large. Mangold was less clear about how he intended to treat that aspect of the character specifically, but commented on how Wolverine overall was going to be an entirely different animal.

“Hugh and I have an idea about when in Wolvie’s life when we’re finding him,” Mangold said. “I think it’s in a place that will be a little more intense than we’ve ever seen him. In that sense, we’ll be examining his look and everything else through that prism. That would affect everything from his level of musculature to his look.”

Ultimately for Mangold, he doesn’t hope to reinvent the wheel with “The Wolverine,” but to take a closer, more detailed look at a character known and loved by generations of comic book fans and movie-goers.

“I think that we are not rebooting, but we are going deeper into something than anyone’s ever gone, and we’re finding a way to do that in a really original way,” Mangold said.

How do you feel about Mangold’s proposed take on Wolverine? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!