James Mangold dropped by Butt-Numb-A-Thon this morning and woke everyone the hell up with the first forty minutes of Logan.
Here's the bad news: we were asked not to reveal any plot details.
Here's the good news: holy shit, you guys. Logan looks so goddamn great.
This movie comes in hot. It opens big and fast and intense, but the tone isn't blustery in the least. Some titles Mangold threw around for reference during the Q&A included, obviously, Millar's Old Man Logan run, but also Unforgiven, The Wrestler and, even more surprising, Little Miss Sunshine. Or, as Mangold put it, "It's Paper Moon with claws." Though it's missing the jokiness, the hard R was made possible thanks to Deadpool. There's a scene that put me rather in mind of Mad Max: Fury Road. It feels a bit like all of those movies while still feeling very much like a Wolverine movie - just a grounded and grown-up version of a Wolverine movie. The violence is insane, the language is not pulling back. But it's not dour or gritty. It's just for adults.
And good lord, once the action gets going, it's breathtaking. Even with unfinished FX (Mangold said "this movie is still wet"), the action was riveting and coherent. Laura, Logan's young companion played by Dafne Keen, is AMAZING. I'm obsessed with her. She is my new universe. It's a dicey endeavor, reporting when footage or films get standing ovations or boos at festivals, because honestly, the festival atmosphere is so weird, and on hour 23 of Butt-Numb-A-Thon, the atmosphere is weirder than most. But Logan's standing ovation felt deserved. The footage was just charged. It was a blast, and thanks to these forty minutes, Logan went from being moderately on my radar to a title of absolute importance. Move your ass, March 3rd.
A few other notes from Mangold's Q&A:
"The goal was to make a functioning drama first and then add the kickass action."
When asked about continuity to the X-Men franchise, Mangold assured us that there is a relationship between Logan and the rest of the films. As a director, Mangold respects the previous films and has no interest in undoing any of that (ed. note: rather tortuous) continuity, but he also wasn't interested in making Logan feel like a TV episode in a much larger series. This is its own film, its own story, but it's still a member of the family we know.
One of the ways the previous films are thematically referenced is that, here, Logan is "living with the weight of his own legend." We see a bit of that in this footage, of his past lives and past achievements haunting him as he's trying to go his own way.
Mangold didn't want to film very much of Logan with green screen, so it's mostly shot on location. That immediately resonates in what we saw. It's set in the future, but a "modest vision of the future," one that feels like our world, just slightly different.
And when asked if there's a chance some other X-Men could pop up in cameos to help Logan and Laura on their journey, Mangold smiled, "There's always a chance."