Jean Grey or not Jean Grey? That is the question. With rumors landing a few days ago that Famke Janssen shot a cameo in "The Wolverine," the presumption was that the film would precede the "X-Men" trilogy of pictures. But the answer to that presumption is an emphatic "no" from director James Mangold.
"Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all," Mangold told Empire. "Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him." But intriguingly, the director also told the magazine that the story "will take place outside of all previous X-film continuity" -- so if you're thinking that Wolverine will flashback in sorrow to mercy killing Jean Grey at the end of "X-Men: The Last Stand" as he deals with Silver Samurai and dabbles in romance with Mariko, it seems you'd be mistaken.
"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," Mangold said. "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."
We have to say, it's a ballsy approach, but it also makes sense. It has been six years since 'The Last Stand,' and trying to continue that timeline at this point -- particularly when "X-Men: First Class" is now spinning off into its own thing with "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" already slated for a 2014 release -- would probably not be the best idea. That version of the X-Men is basically over as the younger cast and different timeline are now being established. And it was clear from "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" that Fox wanted this character to become a Batman or Superman for them -- and "The Wolverine" is certainly a chance to do that, hence abandoning any pre-existing threads.
Now, that doesn't mean Janssen can't play Jean Grey in an unrelated flashback -- perhaps as a bit of fan service -- just don't expect Wolverine to be pining for those days at Xavier's Academy the way we've seen previously. "The Wolverine" opens on July 26, 2013 -- here's a new look at the film with some painful looking (pre-adamantium?) bone claws poking out of Jackman's fist.