James Mangold directing The Wolverine

Logan really plays like a movie where you didn’t have to hold back at all. Was there anything that you still had to leave on the table, that you’re disappointed you didn’t get to do?

No. I still — all my collaborators and I have had moments where we turn to each other and go, “I just can’t believe I got away with this.” But it’s a credit to the studio. I mean, they were looking, they were just happy with the film. And whatever that alchemy was, whatever that thing was that made everyone see the same movie and work along the lines of the same movie, I haven’t had a single tense moment with actors, studio, script writers, Marvel, Fox, anybody.

That’s great. I know Caliban is a supporting character in this, but he actually has been in one of the other X-Men movies before. So was there any concern about continuity? Is it even intended to be the same person?

It was more of a slight little trainwreck, in the sense that I had written him into my film and then discovered they were also working on him in the other movie. And at that point, I was just like, “Ah, fuck it.” I figured we were far enough in the future that our two versions could be some alternate versions of the same character. But Caliban plays such a small role in the last X-Men movie that I didn’t really think it was worth being tied to the way they staged him, kind of as a cameo, to tie up what would be a principal character in our film.

And Marvel and Fox didn’t have any concerns about that, or issues with that?

You’d be surprised. No.

Logan - X-23

While we’re on the topic of other X-Men movies, I have to ask: Do you know if there’s any chance Dafne Keen would come back as Laura in any of the future films?

I mean, I know she wants to act. I know she was phenomenal in this movie. And I can’t think of a reason there wouldn’t be interest in the studio or otherwise. But no one’s been working on anything yet.

I thought X-23 was really fantastic. And one of the things that struck me when I was watching her was that she’s the kind of young female character that I wish I had had as a kid, despite the fact that Logan is an R-rated movie. I was wondering if you thought about that at all, what kids might think of her.

Yeah. Well, I did. It is the one area where it’s difficult. But I also realize that movies like, for instance, Bad News Bears, let parents decide when their kid is ready. I think in many ways, it all depends on the kid, what a kid is ready to see and what a kid is not ready to see. But even though Dafne is eleven, she could be inspiring to the 20- and 25- and 30-year-olds of us. Because I think this is not a movie for kids. It isn’t.

Logan is one of the most violent comic book movies we’ve seen in a while, but it’s also a movie that kind of tries to reckon with the cost of violence. So how did you try to reconcile those two sides of portraying violence onscreen?

You couldn’t have put it better than you just did in your question, which is that I wanted to go further with the violence, but I also wanted to feel the power and the gravity of the loss of human life. To me, that’s more important. I mean, far more dangerous to me than seeing claws come through someone’s skull, is the way that movies can mow people down in a PG-13 film, and just bodies are falling everywhere, and because it’s a little less bloody, it somehow is okay. To me, the real thing to communicate to people that is responsible when dealing with violence and aggression in films is that lives stop. Life stops. That it’s final, and it’s complete, and it’s powerful, and there is no pop-up where someone’s magically getting better.

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Logan is in theaters March 3.

 

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