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'Logan' director James Mangold surprised that Wolverine film got him his first Oscar nod for adapted screenplay

Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) tries to protect the young mutant Laura (Dafne Keen) in "Logan." (Ben Rothstein/20th Century Fox)

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By NARDINE SAAD | Los Angeles Times | Published: January 25, 2018

“Logan” director and screenwriter James Mangold has helped bring mainstream comic book films back to the Academy Awards.

The “Walk the Line” and “Girl, Interrupted” director earned his first Oscar nomination on Tuesday for adapted screenplay for co-writing the final Wolverine film. Mangold teamed up with Scott Frank and Michael Green to write the Hugh Jackman-starring vehicle based on the Marvel comic-book character.

In a chat on Tuesday morning with the Los Angeles Times, the filmmaker said he approached the gritty action flick the same way he did his other critically acclaimed films.

Q: How are you feeling this morning? Where were you when you found out the news?

A: I’m great. I was just stumbling around in the dark at home in Malibu when the news broke.

Q: Comic-book movies rarely ever get nominated. Why do you think this film got the academy’s attention?

A: First of all, I think that there are other filmmakers who have paved the way with their adaptations of comic books that may not have gotten recognition, but have kind of opened people’s minds of the possibility of risk and creative invention in that genre.

On this film, we really focused on doing something different: a dramatic and character-driven film rather than trying to compete in the arms race of comic-book films. “I can spend more than you, I can blow up more than you.” We wanted to make a film that operated on the character engine and emotion. I’ve been really gratified by the way fans have embraced the movie.

Q: You’ve worked on several films that have made their way to the Oscars before - “Girl, Interrupted” and “Walk the Line,” among them. Does it surprise that it was “Logan” that earned you your first Oscar nod?

A: Yes! But I’m thrilled. It speaks to the idea that people are opening up to all genres to look for creative invention and I’m thrilled that people saw it in the work that Scott Frank, Michael Green and I did.

Q: Apparently, this is the first superhero movie to be nominated for adapted screenplay.

A: Other filmmakers have done really amazing work in the genre before. As a genre it takes a long time for people to accept where there can be real creativity and ambition. There was a time when the western was considered a low form or pulpy form, but people invested in it. I very much wanted us to - in the script and in conversation with the cast and crew - to see this film as a personal film. As a film about character more than a franchise or a tentpole.

© 2018 Los Angeles Times

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