With production almost wrapped on The Wolverine, director James Mangold and star Hugh Jackman took to social media to answer some fan questions and debut a cool new teaser poster (scroll down to check it out). This sort of inclusive approach to tentpole blockbusters has been growing in popularity and we should expect to see more in the future.
But what should you expect from The Wolverine? For starters, expect a darker, action-packed sequel. The twenty-minute long conversation touched on a variety of topics ranging from Jackman's training regime, enemies that Wolverine will face in the film, along with favorite props, tapping into the character's rage and favorite Wolverine comics.
Here's the full live chat along with some highlights below.
The Wolverine arrives in theaters July 26, 2013.
Q: Where does this story fit into the X-Men timeline?
James Mangold: This film situates itself after the first three X-Men movies that exist. It finds Logan at a point when the X-Men are gone. I wanted to set this in a place where Hugh and I could develop in our own world. I also think it's an interesting place to find Logan, every intimate connection have been destroyed or broken.
Hugh Jackman: You definitely see him more vulnerable than ever before. Having Jim here has been amazing. He pushes me, probably like no one else does. It's been good.
Mangold: My goal is to bring the dramatic integrity that you would find in a drama into an action movie like this, so that it feels real.
Q: If you could have any mutant power, what would it be?
Jackman: Definitely teleporting. Obviously the amount we move around, the ability to *poof* be anywhere, would be fantastic.
Mangold: That would be great. Mind control would be great, being a director and all. But also just being able to know what people are thinking.
Q: What new light does The Wolverine bring to Logan after 10 years?
Jackman: Well, I didn't think I'd be playing one character so long. But from X-Men One, my secret goal was to shoot this particular story. The movie is called The Wolverine. Jim and I talked about this movie being more than any other, one that captures the essence of the character. Emotionally, physically, I've gone lower.
Mangold: For fans of the comic, one of the aspects we like is the rage. For me, there was a lot of time tapping into the rage. Outlaw Josey Wales was something I thought about. I kept thinking about the story because it sets Clint [Eastwood] off on a quest for revenge. That aspect of darkness is so integral as part of the Marvel character.
Q: Where did you film and how long have you been filming?
Jackman: We've been filming for about three months now. We filmed in Japan for three, four weeks. Shot in locations, Tokyo, bullet train stations, shot all over the place. Something I'll never forget. The rest of it has been shot in Sydney. I'm amazed and proud as anyone to see how Japan-like this film looks. It's been great.
Mangold: Japan becomes this kind of Oz that Logan travels to. It's like a fever dream that Logan experiences. It's all there from the original comic but I thought it should be heightened a bit, like the volume has been turned up visually.
Jackman: This family dynasty that he walks into, he's the complete opposite of everything about Japanese culture. He's not about honor, duty, family, hierarchy, so on.
Q: How is the level of danger established given his healing power?
Jackman: In this movie, he discovers his Kryptonite.
Mangold: There is a challenge he faces that poses a challenge to him, but it's something that we don't want to give away. There are two aspects. The people Logan is up against may have gotten to him. But we've also made a concerted effort to making the film more real. He doesn't bring down any airplanes. Part of it is bringing things down on earth, and less dependent on huge CG. The fight choreography is amazing and real, there's some long takes where there's some badass stuff going on.
Jackman: Jim certainly touched on it, sure he has claws and adamantium skeleton and healing ability, but the thing that makes him dangerous is his rage. Sure there are other X-Men with stronger powers on paper, but the one guy you don't want to annoy is Wolverine. When it comes to it, it's that beserker rage.
Mangold: We don’t want to succumb to this arms race of action movies that are trying to outdo each other and getting bigger every year. Eventually you hit a ceiling. At some point you have to do something different, it's certainly an action film, but it's also in the family of the Bourne films or The Dark Knight films and those kinds of grounded action films.
Q: Hugh, talk a little bit about your training regimen.
Jackman: Well, I started earlier. Jim and I have been developing this for two years. I knew we had the time. Trained harder, ate better, rang my buddy Dwayne Johnson on tips of eating, 6,000 calories a day, killed more chickens than I care to. Finally I feel like physically what I saw on film is how I saw it in my mind. It's not a vanity thing, it's important that the rage inside is seen on his body. I wanted to see veins, I wanted it to seem animalistic, I want it to look pretty frightening.
Q: What kind of enemies does Wolverine face?
Mangold: Yakuza, industrialists, politicians, women of varying degrees of "Who are they? What are they? Can I trust them?" it’s a labyrinth. One of the things is we get an array of people and other mutants that come in contact with Wolverine, good, bad or question mark. Most superhero movies are imminently clear who the bad guy is and who the good guys need to battle to save the day. This is a movie that is much more of a mystery, more of a labyrinth. It's an interesting part where Logan comes into at the beginning of this movie, trusting no one. He goes through an array of people of trying to figure out who he can trust.
Jackman: In this movie, we really explore his immortality. More than ever, we've explored this war within himself. The beginning of this movie, he's finding it tough to find a reason to live.
Mangold: The weight of forever, the heavy burden of living forever. I was talking to Hugh about Bicentennial Man, about a robot that lives forever, falls in love and loses the people he loves. What is it like to lose people you love?
Jackman: I remember the first conversation. Enough with the "I can't remember my past" stuff. Now it’s the future, how do I live with what happened, with what I know. I thought that was more interesting to explore.
Q: Which Wolverine comics are your personal favorites?
Mangold: I love this saga. When I was in this world and collecting, I loved the art work, combination of Japanese aesthetic with the Wolverine aesthetic. It was a tremendous opportunity when this came up.
Jackman: Same for me, although, Weapon X as well. I'd still love to see that scene where his head grows back. I want to see that on film.
Q: Do you have a favorite prop and did you get to keep anything?
Mangold: These swords are really incredible. The way the steel is manipulated. Japanese knives are beyond beautiful. They’re made in the process of folding the steel that produces almost a wood grain. In the steel, they're kind of warbled. The bone claws also make me smile. There's something primeval about who Wolvie is at his base.
Jackman: I've been a fan of Japanese samurai armor for a long time and was lucky enough to have toured the MET in New York and the Tokyo museum and saw beautiful armor. It's so interesting that something that’s made for protection in war is made so artistically. There's some Japanese armor that could quite possibly toss in a garbage bag and knick off. So if they're missing, you know where they went.
Q: Can you sum up this movie in a couple of sentences?
Mangold: It is awesome. Logan enters a labyrinth of mystery, action, love, violence.
Jackman: Go to the title. The title gives you a big clue about this movie. If you ever liked the character, it's called The Wolverine. You're going to see every side of Wolverine and there's going to be some surprises in there too. You know, having gone through shooting for 12 weeks and [playing this character for 10 years, I can say it's the most action-packed and new and exciting than there has ever been before.
Follow along on Twitter @DerrickDeane and @Fandango.