Exclusive New Wolverine Image

James Mangold: 'It's not a prequel...'

Update: We’ve laid hands on another fresh look at the new look at Wolverine, here glimpsed in flashback (note those bone claws). Here’s looking like he’s trapped in the kind of grimly functional prison where you might find a dangerously underqualified Alfred Molina doing medical work.

The Wolverine

You may have noticed that the new issue of Empire is a Hobbit-fest (5 covers! In 3D! Collect 'em all etc. etc.), but we also took the time out this month to focus on an equally hairy hero: Wolverine.

As well as an exclusive, and intriguing, new pic from The Wolverine, the currently-shooting latest outing for Hugh Jackman's feral, clawed X-Men, we spoke to director James Mangold about the movie, which takes Logan to Japan, and learned some very interesting things.

Most of those interesting things will remain the preserve of the magazine, so pick up the new issue if you want to learn all of Logan's secrets, but we will say this: one thing that had been presumed about The Wolverine is that it would be another X-Men prequel. Not so.

"Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all," reveals Mangold. "Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him."

Now that's intriguing. We're pretty sure that there are prequel elements to The Wolverine - our picture alone, if you know your Wolverine lore, would suggest it, while on-set pics suggest that some sequences take place in World War II. Also, recent rumours hint at a cameo from Famke Janssen as Logan's unrequited love Jean Grey, last seen being mercy-killed by Logan at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand.

But, according to Mangold, the bulk of the action - which takes Logan to Tokyo, where he falls for Tao Okamoto's mysterious Mariko and becomes entangled in a brutal gang war - will take place outside of all previous X-film continuity.

"That’s something that for me was very important, that I land in a very specific place in his timeline," says Mangold. "I wanted to be able to tell the story without the burden of handing it off to a film that already exists and having to conform to it. The ideas of immortality reign very heavily in this story and the burden of immortality weighs heavily on Logan. For me that’s such an interesting part of Logan’s character that is nearly impossible to explore if you have a kind of league or team movie."

For more from Mangold on what he calls a "Japanese noir picture with tentpole action in it", and to see our fantastic new pic from the movie, pick up the new issue of Empire, on sale today in print form and on the iPad.

brightcove.createExperiences();The Wolverine is out in the UK on July 25, 2013.