20th Century Fox’s Logan is world premiering tonight at the Berlin Film Festival, with stars Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in the German capital alongside director James Mangold and producers Simon Kinberg and Hutch Parker. This is Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine in a gritty look at the weary X-Man and the little girl (Dafne Keen) who claws her way into his world and heart.
The R-rated film is a departure for X-Men movies — Deadpool notwithstanding — and the principals spoke to the Berlinale press corps today about everything from making movies “to do more than sell Happy Meals” to the current state of the world and Brexit, as well as why this film is a “love letter to Wolverine fans.”
Reviews are not yet in for Logan, but reaction in Berlin was positive. The film picks up in the near future as Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hideout on the Mexican border. But his attempts to escape from the world and his legacy are thwarted when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.
Jackman confirmed this will be his last time sporting Wolverine’s adamantium claws and said knowing that from the get-go allowed the team to “make a movie not defined by genre or a rating or previous films in the franchise.”
In a sign of prescience among the writing team, issues surrounding the Mexican border were already in the script, Jackman said, before the U.S. presidential debates began. There is hope that the story, a darker look at the X-Men universe — which Jackman pitched as “Little Miss Sunshine with Marvel characters and violence,” Mangold has previously said — will resonate in today’s world.
“Things are shifting, and the dynamic is, would we separate or connect?” Jackman said. “Is it easier to live on our own?” or is it more dangerous to connect? “That’s what’s at play in the larger tapestry. … I hope there’s resonance and that it makes people think about their day-to-day life.”
Mangold said he was keen to reach a wide audience with thought-provoking fare. “It’s important that movies that reference pop culture and are franchises and have large national audiences do something more than sell Happy Meals or T-shirts but make audiences ask questions.”
He continued: “This is not a movie for kids. The ratings exist for a reason, and this is not a movie made for children. We cannot explore the questions of violence if we can’t make movies” for adults. Inspiration came from a famously violent anti-violence movie, Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Best Picture Oscar winner Unforgiven, as well as Mangold’s own 2007 Russell Crowe-starrer 3:10 To Yuma.
Mangold also praised Fox. “It’s chic and normal to talk about studios like they are the enemy,” he said. “That’s not the case in this movie. I was able to make exactly the movie that I set out to make. … It came from a very acute recognition that the formula of these movies is getting stale and it’s imperative that we keep experimenting. That took guts.”
Chiming in on the current state of the world, and particularly his homeland, the British Stewart intoned that sitting in front of a European audience in Berlin he had “a sense of embarrassment and shame that the country of which I am a citizen has elected to leave the European Union. I want to be absolutely clear that more than half the nation did not vote for” — and here he misspoke when he said “breakfast,” quickly correcting that he meant “Brexit” and quipping, “If only because Brexit is harder to digest.”
At this largely political festival, Stewart took the opportunity in front of the international media to add: “The vote only went the way it did because the nation was lied to and people voted out of the best possible interests. But it was, and is, a calamitous mistake.” To applause, he continued, “On behalf of those of us who wanted to remain, I apologize to all of you.”
Turning back to the subject at hand, Jackman wouldn’t say he’s going to miss Wolverine. “He’s not going anywhere; [the character] will always live with me. He’s part of who I am, and it’s a journey I’m so, so grateful for.” The actor first stepped into the role 17 years ago, but it wasn’t until this film that “I really feel like I got to the core of it, the heart of it. … There’s a lot at stake for me and the fans. This is a love letter to Wolverine fans.”
Logan debuts March 3 in the U.S. and begins international rollout March 1.