‘Logan’ Director Talks How “Classical Filmmaking” and Comic Panels Inspired The Film’s Style
One of the reasons why the Marvel Cinematic Universe has continued to be successful is how it maintains a specific vision throughout all of the films. That strategy also means that some moviegoers could get tired of the same old thing after a while. The DC Cinematic Universe is currently trying to do the opposite by attaching auteur directors to helm their films so that each one has its own unique style. But the most recent installments of their cinematic universe—Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad—had reports of heavy studio interference. So while neither Marvel nor DC may have a perfect system in place, the former is currently the top dog.
The only issue with the coined term of a “cinematic universe” is figuring out which films are connected to it and which are not. Films like Captain America: Civil War and Guardians of the Galaxy are a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe because they are financed fully by Disney/Marvel. What makes the logic of that a little cloudy is that there are the other Marvel films—X-Men franchise, Wolverine standalone series, Deadpool, etc.—that are co-financed by 20th Century Fox and are not in the same world of Captain America and Iron Man. It may never make total sense as to why that is but you just have to go with it.
While the central X-Men films has been the most successful of the secondary Marvel movie world, the standalone series featuring Wolverine is one that has had some of the most interesting divergences from Marvel’s tried-and-true style. Let’s get it out of the way, X-Men Origins: Wolverine was not great by any means. On the other hand, 2013’s The Wolverine and next year’s Logan are very uncommon finds in the modern age of superhero movies. Since The Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is a very damaged antihero, the content of his standalone films have attempted to match that. Despite The Wolverine’s theatrical version being PG-13, the unrated cut that accompanied the Blu-ray release gave us a more violent—and, therefore, fitting—take on the character.
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Even though he’s become a fan favorite over the years, Logan will sadly be the final appearance of The Wolverine and Jackman as the character. But thankfully, the film’s first trailer that hit yesterday proves that the character is going out with a bang. Before the trailer hit, multiple black and white stills were released, which created the possibility Logan being presented entirely in that style. Simply put, that would be amazing. While the trailer proved that theory wrong, it still made Logan look like a classically shot film. And director James Mangold knew he wanted to shoot the film that way before he even started production. In an interview with Empire, Mangold discussed how he wanted to make Logan feel evocative of comic books and have a classical Hollywood style.
“I don’t so much think about comic-book framings, but I think about film noir framings and classic Hollywood filmmaking styles, German expressionist filmmaking style of the early part of the last century, which has a lot in common with comic-book art. Strong foregrounds, playing things in depth: you have to make an image say more within that one image. In modern filmmaking 3, 2017everything’s in close-up, so every scene there’s 150 cuts to keep track of what’s going on with every element. I’m trying on this film to set frames that are, in some way, descriptive and yes, are kind of evocative of comic-book panels and also for me classical filmmaking.”
It’s always nice to see a filmmaker, particularly in the superhero genre, have a mindset like that. The Wolverine had a similar style, which often played like a film noir. Despite that film having a few flaws of its own, it seems like Logan will be a magnificent ending to the trilogy. Not only that, we are getting that coveted R-rating; that means more blood, more Wolverine rampages, and who knows what else. 2017 is already looking like it will be a superb year for cinema — and the potential of Logan is definitely a big part of that.
Synopsis for Logan:
In 2024, mutant births are severely in decline, and people aren’t sure why. A government-type operation is turning mutant children into killing machines. From this, Logan emerges as a mentor to a mutant girl, who has two claws instead of his three.
Logan hits U.S. theaters on March 3, 2017.