Interview: 'Logan' Producers On Saying Goodbye To Hugh Jackman's Wolverine And The Future Of 'X-Men'

If Logan really and truly is Hugh Jackman's last Wolverine movie — and so far, everyone's still insisting it is — it's tough to imagine a better way for him to go out. After 17 years, this is the finale he deserves: intense, emotional, and perfectly true to the character. Which isn't to say we won't miss him. To date, Wolverine's appeared in every single X-Men movie but Deadpool. His absence is sure to be felt as the franchise moves forward, with more core X-Men movies and more spinoffs like Deadpool 2.

So during a recent press day, I sat down with producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker to talk about all of that. We discussed the pressures of giving Jackman a proper sendoff, the intricacies of X-Men continuity, the likelihood of more R-rated spinoffs, and status of the next X-Men movie (which may or may not be a Dark Phoenix adaptation). Read our Logan producers interview below.

So, this is Hugh Jackman's last Wolverine movie. Are you sad to see him go, and did you try to convince him to stay?

Parker: Very sad to see him go; no, did not try to convince him to stay. In a large part because from the very beginnings of the conversation about this film, which date back to probably to the middle of production on the last Wolverine, the desire and intention and aspiration on the part of Hugh and really Jim was to do that which we had not been able to do before with the character, and that meant taking him through to the limits that we take him to. And that included, look, this is gonna be my last. So that was an invitation that really drove us to do a bolder, more grounded, obviously, and hopefully more original version of the story. But it was, in doing that, you were sort of embracing that we're not doing it again.

Were you nervous about giving him a proper sendoff after 17 years? What about this concept made you feel like, yes, this is the right way for him to go out?

Parker: You know, I've got to give a lot of credit to Jim and Scott Frank for that, who really were the authors of the script, but also to Hugh. Because the intention led us sort of organically to this story. This story echoed the intention. It was all going to the same place. So then the challenge, really, in terms of living up to it, was the challenge you always face, which is executing it properly. And I think we were in great hands. Because there aren't many filmmakers that I think are as capable, are as gifted, as Jim Mangold.

Yeah. I'd agree with that.

So, switching gears, let's talk about X-23. What's ahead for Laura? Have there been any conversations about the possibility of bringing her back for future films?

Parker: Yes. I mean, a little bit. Mostly from the point of view that we love her, we think she does an amazing job, she's an incredible character. Nothing specific. It's just, she does seem like a character where there is, unlike Logan's story, which we've really brought to a conclusion, Laura's story feels like it's just beginning. It feels like there is an opportunity for more and for rich stories to be told through her character.

Is there a possibility we'll see her in one of the other upcoming X-Men movies?

Parker: No conversations on it yet.

Kinberg: We haven't talked about it. I guess everything's possible, but we haven't talked about it.

All right. Can I ask how long her contract is for, how many movies?

Parker: No.

Kinberg: [Laughs]

caliban stephen merchant

Okay, so let's talk about another character. I was surprised to see Caliban pop up in Logan, because a version of him was also in X-Men: Apocalypse. Was there any concern about maintaining continuity between those? Were there any conversations about that?

Parker: There wasn't so much concern. I think there's, like so many other multifaceted texts, part of the fun of being a filmmaker — you know, and I'm speaking for Jim in this case — is getting to come and see these characters or see these opportunities through their own lens. I think the intention was to try to stay true to the comics. But there really wasn't. We thought it was important not to feel hamstrung or constrained because other movies have been done in the space, and to actually give Jim the freedom to tell the stories he sought. So in the same way that we're not entirely faithful to every note in the comics, we leave room for the filmmakers to make interpretations there, the same is true for him relative to Apocalypse and the use of Caliban there.

Well, also, speaking more generally about continuity, how much conversation and thought goes into making sure that, like, something that happens in X-Men: Apocalypse will line up with Deadpool or whatever?

Kinberg: An immense amount of thought and conversation goes into it. Lots of crazy-looking diagrams. And like Hutch said, we want to give the filmmakers as much freedom as possible. And yet not have the movies conflict or contradict each other. So there's always some nuance and interpretation for movie to movie. Like as a specific example, Colossus popped up in different movies and different guises. Some movies he's completely CG, like Deadpool, some movies he's an actor who becomes CG, like the mainland X-Men movies. So there's some level of play within that, and there's certainly tradition within movies and even within theater. Different actors play Hamlet over centuries.

But we do try to keep the overall narrative clear and clean, and what we did with Days of Future Past is we sort of wiped the slate, so everything from that point forward was free game. That's what we've done. I think going through Logan, and as we were developing Logan, as we develop these other movies, they exist separately, and yet they are part of a timeline that hopefully feels as though they are of a shared universe.

logan images

Logan really earns its R rating. Was it tough to convince you to go hard R? Was it tough to convince the studio?

Parker: You know, it would probably be a better story if I said yes. But the truth is, no. The studio, they certainly had questions, but from early days — particularly Emma Watts, who was a big champion of the project, as was Steve Asbell, actually, the two of them — it was always about how do we tell the story correctly? And it became clear as the story took shape that we needed and R rating. We needed to be able to go to that place. And they were supportive. They backed us. And people have wanted to tag it to Deadpool, but the truth is, our conversations about which story actually long precede Deadpool and exist separately, for one reason and one reason only, which is this story sort of requires that tonal approach.

It must have been a relief, though, when Deadpool came out and you were just like, see? We didn't have anything to worry about!

Parker: Yes. Yes.

Kinberg: [Laughs] I think that's true. I think that's fair.

Parker: Always. You know, 'cause look, statistically and historically, you look at the success of R-rated movies, and they are more limited. So what Deadpool did for the whole industry, frankly, was kick open the door to the possibility. Now at the same time, it requires that you be really bold, really original, excellently told, really well performed — you know, you still have to do a series of things that are extremely hard to do and that Deadpool did so extraordinary well. But it certainly made that feel like a more viable possibility.

Well, now that you've had two R-rated hits in a row...

Kinberg: Well, Logan hasn't come out yet, so [knocks on table]. I'm Jewish, I'm touching wood. But go ahead.

[Laughs] Do you think we're going to see more R-rated X-Men movies coming up? Like is X-Force, for example, going to be R-rated?

Kinberg: I think that each movie, we figure out what the story is, then we figure out the requirements of the story, and if the requirements of the story are R-rated, it's R-rated. We don't go into movies saying, this one's gonna be R-rated, this one's gonna be PG-13, we don't make those decisions before we make the decisions of story. My instinct is that the Deadpool universe, which is Deadpool 2 and potentially X-Force, they require being R-rated, because that's just Deadpool's voice in the comic, and it's Deadpool's voice in the movie so far. I think audiences would be disappointed if they got a PG-13 Deadpool movie. So my easy bet would be Deadpool 2 is R-rated and most movies within that sort of shared but separate universe would be likewise.

Sophie Turner as Jean Grey in X-Men Apocalypse

So speaking of the future, what can you tell me about the next X-Men movie? It's called Supernova, is that right?

Kinberg: It's not called Supernova. One of the things we do when we make these X-Men movies, to be totally candid, is — any of these movies, it's on Star Wars, too — is you come up with fake names to throw people off the scent and when you're out making the movie, the signs that show you where the locations are say Nova, or whatever the fake title is, and people figure it out, and I don't even know why we do it anymore.

But at any rate, it's not called Supernova. That was the code name for it. There's yet another code name now. What I can tell you is that we're in early stages of prep on it, and that it's something that Hutch and I specifically have been talking about, as the producers of it and me as the writer of it, since post-production on Apocalypse, what the story would be and how would do something bold and radical and expand the universe in the same way that Logan feels bold and radical and certainly Deadpool does as well. And that's where we are with it.

So word is you're planning to direct that one?

Kinberg: That is the word. That's premature. But it's certainly something I've been interested in doing generally for a long time.

Well, I know the other big rumor going around about it is it's going to be the Dark Phoenix storyline — which I've actually talked about with you in the past, at the X-Men: Days of Future Past junket. Can you talk about that? What are you going to do differently this time around?

Kinberg: Well, I can't comment on what we're doing with this next X-Men movie, but I think a way to talk about it potentially, is to talk about X-Men: The Last Stand, and then that being a Dark Phoenix movie that we didn't get quite right. I think of maybe a few mistakes we made in that movie — and every movie has mistakes — but the main mistake we made in that movie was taking the Dark Phoenix story, which is such a vast and profound saga, and making it the subplot of the movie as opposed to the main plot of the movie. I think if we were to make a Dark Phoenix movie in the future, it would be a Dark Phoenix movie about her struggle, and really should be the A plot and the primary of the movie.

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Logan is in theaters now.