Spring 2017

Breaking the Mold: The Gospel According to James Mangold

The Logan director explains how to reinvigorate the superhero genre


Director James Mangold, right, on set with actors Hugh Jackman and Dafne Kean (Photo: Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox)

Sidestep Formula

"Avoid some of the tropes and worn-out default settings that these films have fallen into."

Make It Personal

"A lot of the goal was to make a film about an established character, with an actor who's been established in the role, but do it entirely in my voice."

Don't Glorify Violence

"I try to wade deep into the swamp of the most difficult questions you can ask about any character, whether making 3:10 to Yuma or Walk the Line or a Wolverine movie: What justifies violence? What doesn't? Is killing someone who's hurting other people OK? When is killing OK? Is it OK to enjoy killing?"

Keep Egos in Check

"One of the things I've always loved about Wolverine is that he doesn't view his talents as a mandate to help humanity, he views them as a kind of curse, and I think that makes him innately more interesting."

Aim for an R Rating

"You can suddenly make a more sophisticated movie. What was most interesting about being rated R, was actually freeing myself from this multifaceted expectation to make something for everybody."

Use Real vs CGI Settings

"That you're really in the world makes the acting feel more real. It's the biggest quick change I can make from the way these movies are usually manufactured, which is entirely on a stage."

Live in the Moment

"The greatest job of the director, at every stage, is to recognize what is going on in front of you rather than what you wish was going on. It's adjusting to what you're seeing, so the magic of what's actually happening has a chance to make it on the screen."

OR, in the cast of Deadpool director Tim Miller:

Director Tim Miller, left, with actor Ryan Reynolds (Photo: 20th Century Fox/Everett)

Serve Up More Than a Soupçon of Humor

"Even though I said comedy was the thing that opened it up, I don't think National Lampoon's Deadpool would be as successful. My job was to balance this so that it felt like it had real stakes and you really cared about the characters even though there was lots of comedy and lots of action."


Feature stories about the craft and challenges of directors and their teams working on feature films.

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