At the MCM Expo, Rich and I sat down for a good long chat with Chris Claremont. I've parsed out what he has to say into a couple of different stories, this first focussing on Darren Aronofsky's The Wolverine (because that's what they're calling it) and the comic that inspired it.
Claremont began by telling us that some of the information he has about the film, he got first from Bleeding Cool. But how much more does he know?
I haven't seen the screenplay. I've heard lots of talk that the screenplay is brilliant, true to the comics, everything else. Reading the cast list, so to speak, was the first inkling I had to the structure of the narrative itself.
It's been over 25 years since he wrote the comic that will be forming the basis for this new film's storyline – not so long that he couldn't recall its genesis.
It was Frank and me sitting in a car, driving up I5 from San Diego, stuck in traffic, and I was trying to persuade him to take the job. I guess, eventually, I just wore him down.
As it started we were just talking about stuff and he said "I don't want to do superhero 'punch and hit'" and I said "I don't want to do it either" and the more I talked, the more interested he got in it and it evolved from there. The one thing we wanted to do was not a traditional costumed superhero story, we wanted to do a very personal, very human, very, for want of a better term, natural, Bond-esque adventure. There are no supervillains, there are no extreme costumes, it's basically guy-meets-gal, gal's-in-trouble. He goes to help, things get worse, he meets another girl and suddenly it becomes a three-way love story.
So it's a love story. What else is it?
The essence of the story is to take Logan to the point where he has to take a choice – do I act like the animal in my heart? Or do I choose to be a man, a superhero and, even more so, a Samurai. That leads to his achievement of what he thinks is right.
I was curious as to what advice Claremont would have for the filmmakers. If Darren Aronofsky were to call him up tomorrow, then what would Claremont tell him?
I'll say "Ask a question, and I'll give you an answer". If there's a way I can help, one creator to another, then I will.
Talking about the big screen Wolverine we have led Claremont to tell us his vision for how the character could have been brought to the screen.
Over the course of the three films he evolved on screen in much the same manner he evolved in the comic. The Wolverine quite naturally becomes the core essence of the group. It would have been interesting if we'd done it 25 years ago and I'd gotten my wish and Bob Hoskins had played him. Hoskins has that same degree of mad fury, and he's short. Don't think of Super Mario Bros. think of The Long Good Friday. With Hugh Jackman, it just reverses the paradigm, he's six foot four and who cares?
Does it make sense to turn next, at the place we left Wolverine in the last film, to Claremont and Miller's version of the character? Does it make sense for Logan to undergo this story now?
The Wolverine in the film adaptation of the story exists in a different world than the Logan in the story, but that's the same in any adaptation like the difference between Romeo & Juliet done by Baz Luhrmann versus Franco Zefirrelli versus on the stage. You mentioned that the film starts with him in jail so something happened between Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2, he's in jail, but the essence of the character is the same. There's no X-Men back story to it so you know this won't end with him sending a note back to the mansion saying "Come to the wedding".
The responsibility of the filmmakers is to define their own reality in that two hour stretch. The reality is what occurs in that 110 minutes. The idea with any film is you walk in the door never having seen anything before and you're introduced to the totality of the experience.
And then the conversation wandered away from the Wolverine… which we'll come back to later.