Quotes of Quotes (XXXI) – James Mangold Thinks Canon Sucks and You’re Part of the Problem

Listening to a recent episode of Jeff Goldsmith’s Podcast The Q&A with Logan-director James Mangold, I came across this exchange. Host Jeff Goldsmith can’t help himself as he asks about continuity issues between Logan and the other X-Men-Movies and thereby prompts Mangold to go on a juicy rant about the superhero movie industrial complex.

Jeff Goldsmith: Obviously there was a timeline reset in Days of Future Past which Simon Kinberg wrote, and he’s the producer of this film as well. I’m just curious: How does this fit in the timeline? Because in X-Men: Apocalypse, there was a different Caliban and I’m just curious if this an offshoot, a different timeline …

James Mangold: I have no idea. As you can tell by the way I’m sparring with you on these questions, I don’t care. Meaning that I think that stuff is in the way of making good movies, not in support of it. It would be as if I’m making movies for the Catholic church and I have to pass some kind of papal approval for what happens to Jesus in this episode. It’s just ludicrous …

I’m just curious where it fits in.

I know, but your’re part of the industry, when you ask those questions, of maintaining the sense of ‘Did you break canon or stick with canon?’. In fact, I think canon sucks.

I was just trying to find out, where it was in the canon.

Nowhere. The reality as a marketeer would be that we very carefully positioned it beyond all the existing movies, so it’s up to you. My feeling is: I want to have a relationship with the audience, not with internet crazy factcheckers with a hundred episodes of shit accusing me of getting something wrong. It’s the actual audience that I am most concerned with and that they exist in the immediate, taking in the movie. And unless it’s wildly contradicting something that they just saw in another movie, it’s not of concern to me. (…) My own arrogance or spiciness with you about these questions is partly about how you get the movie made. The gravitational pull between the kind of internet industry of superhero movie worship, the actual industry itself of selling these things, the merchandising machine, the toy manufacturer, the comic books, the rival companies, the summer dating, all of it is not a friend to movie making. It’s a friend to corporate money making. And part of my own defense to making a movie and not just a commodity, is to have a lot of hostility towards a lot of the value systems, some of which fans bring to the material, where they’re actually serving corporations and not themselves, in my opinion. They’re actually demanding the movies work as a box set. They all can then be bought and sold so that the action figures will work consistently from one movie to another, the animated Saturday morning one can match the — they’re actually demanding something that helps the companies sell and ram all these products at the same time. It’s much harder for the companies to make money off eight different visions of what Batman could be, but for me that’s phenomenally more interesting.

Listen to the whole episode here. The quoted passage starts about 46 minutes in.

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