Even I'm losing track of where The Wolverine is going nowadays. For the longest time it was supposed to be a direct sequel to X-Men: Origins and a prequel to the main series, but then it was said to be a sequel to X3 even though X3 is apparently getting its own sequel as well. And now, according to some new comments from director James Mangold, it seems that The Wolverine will take place pretty far in the future.
Behind-the-scenes script shake-ups aren't always a good thing, but Mangold's reasoning behind it is pretty solid. He plans on focusing on the character's immortality, and his relationship with those who don't share his abilities.
Therefore he's living in a kind of isolation," he said. "He gets drawn to Japan by an old friendship and then finds himself in a labyrinth of deceit, caught up in the agendas of mobsters, of wealth, and other powers. His love is gone, his mentors are gone, many of his friends are gone, his own sense of purpose – What am I doing? Why do I bother? – and his exhaustion is high. He has lived a long time, and he's tired. He's tired of the pain.
It's set after 'X-Men 3,' but I wouldn't call it a sequel to 'X-Men 3.' I felt it was really important to find Logan at a moment where he was stripped clean of his duties to the X-Men, his other allegiances, and even stripped clean of his own sense of purpose. A lot of the key ['X-Men'] characters have died [and Wolverine] is no longer a member of some superhero team.
Mangold seems to be building this story from the characters-up, and that makes me happy. X-Men: Origins failed for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest ones were that the characters felt flat. Sure, they weren't blank, but the arcs they went through weren't strong enough to sell the whole film. It certainly didn't help that Wolverine lost his memory at the end, thus negating everything that happened to him as a character.
With this story, however, Wolverine is put in a place where he has to build himself back up. That gives him somewhere to go, and a way for him to grow as a character.