How The Wolverine Is A Western Set In Japan, Inspired By Clint Eastwood

By Kristy Puchko 2013-07-23 10:07:20discussion comments
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We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the Western and the Samurai movie are two sides of the same coin. No one is having to say this more right now than The Wolverine director James Mangold, who admits readily that his latest Logan tale borrows heavily from influences from East and West. Set in modern-day Japan, The Wolverine stars Hugh Jackman as the titular outsider who is a modern cowboy or ronin—depending on your point of view—as he battles against a mysterious foe to do right by an old friend’s last wish.

Over the course of a press conference for The Wolverine, Mangold and Jackman, the film’s star and producer, spoke at length about the film’s inspirations. Of course, there was the source material of Wolverine comics by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. But then there were the more intriguing blend of Western and Samurai movies. For Mangold the idea of an outside, a lone man, was key to building on Wolverine’s pre-existing story:
“Obviously, there's been a huge amount of dialogue between those two (genres) over the years. But that was something we really focused on. For me…trying to get inside of all the characters in this movie—means you need space. You need space from other mutants. You can't get inside characters when you have a movie that has 12 mutants in two hours; then each character has eight minutes if that. So you need a story that has openings for people to expose what's inside them, or the pressure. And the Western is a beautiful example of something that is a format of both action and character; and always has been. I mean, it's not really about horses and guns its really about the kind of dark texture underneath."

Mangold knew early on which Western in particular he wanted to emulate, Jackman remembers:
“Jim said to me in the very first conversation we had when I rang him about it and he'd read the script, 'Tonally I'm thinking The Outlaw Josey Wales’…that was the tone, and immediately I knew we were going to create something different. And setting it in Japan obviously makes it different. We wanted to make it a stand-alone. We didn’t want it to feel like any other Wolverine movies or any other comic book movies. We wanted this to be in service to the character.”

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