Wolverine lurked in the shadows for the first seven or eight years of his life in the comic book industry. It wasn't until 1982 that writer Chris Claremont finally sat down to explore Wolverine's back story in real depth. The result was a four-issue mini-series simply titled Wolverine that was drawn by none other than Frank Miller.
Between them they created one of Wolverine's greatest and most iconic books, the Japan set miniseries, so much so that its referred to as "the book which made Wolverine who he is today" and now the basis of Darren Aronofsky's The Wolverine which he has referred to as a stand alone film and no sequel. Claremont recently sat down with Bleeding Cool at the MCM Expo and chatted about his take on how the movies have portrayed Wolverine so far, and also that if he had his wish over 20 years ago, Bob Hoskins would have played the mutant berserker.
"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. ..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? ..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."
It’s been over 25 years since Claremont wrote the mini-series that will form 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."
Claremont's miniseries decided that Wolverine was, at heart, a ronin, a masterless, failed Samurai who hid a deep-seated code of honor underneath all that rage. In the story Wolverine journeys to Japan to confront the woman he loves and the man that would keep them apart. It was a surprisingly unique look at an already popular character that made him rise above his expectations.