EXCLUSIVE: THE WOLVERINE Storyboards and Interview with John Coven

Check out The Wolverine storyboards by John Coven!

The Wolverine (2013) is a massive hit and recently actor Hugh Jackman said it might be his last solo film as Logan.

While promoting his latest film, Prisoners Jackman told MTV News' Josh Horowitz, "It may be the last. By the way, it didn't hit me until three weeks before the end [of shooting 'X-Men: Days of Future Past], because we promoted 'The Wolverine' and I came back on set with three weeks to go, and that's when I went, 'Well, who knows? Maybe there's no more Wolverine. Maybe this is it. Who knows? Maybe.' So I really made the most of those last few weeks. I enjoyed every time I put the claws on."

If so, then he went out with a bang. I interviewed two of the storyboard artists that helped director Jim Mangold visualize the film and am sharing them in two parts this week. The first artist is John Coven.

Coven is a professional storyboard artist who's worked on big budget movies like The Usual Suspects (1995), X-Men (2000) and The Green Hornet (2011).

Check out the interview and the rest of the boards after the jump (click to enlarge).

Maurice Mitchell: Thanks for this interview John. What did you spend your time working on in The Wolverine?
John Coven: I worked on a bunch of scenes for the film over the course of well over a year. 

They include the POW camp opening, Logan and the bear, the big fight at the temple during Yashida's funeral, Logan's fight with the ninjas at the ice village, and, of course, Logan's fight with the Silver Samurai.  I even storyboarded the last scene in Japan at the airport.

MM: Early reports told of "a stunt fight sequence between the Wolverine and Japanese samurai on motorbikes" that never made the film. What can you tell us about that scene?
JC:  The ninja motorbike fight was a collaboration with Dave Leitch, our second unit director/stunt coordinator.  He was rehearsing with the stunt riders in the parking lot of Fox Studios Australia where we were shooting.  He'd tape the rehearsals and I'd watch the tapes.  Then I'd draw up additional ideas and propose them to Dave and Jim Mangold, our director. 

The bike fight was in the cut right up until just before the film's release.  It was cut from the movie at the last minute.  I hear it's going to be included in the DVD version.

MM: Several storyboards were leaked on line before the film opened. Did you design them and could you walk us through the layouts?
JC: The storyboards in the photos on comicbooksyndicate.com are a mashup of boards by me, Todd Harris, and David Russell.  What you see pasted up on the board is an editing of screen captures from Dave Leitch's stunt vis, and boards from the various storyboard artists done at various times during preproduction and filming.

MM: What was it like working on the film?
JC: Storyboarding the scenes was a pleasure.  The hardest thing about the film was that in the fall of 2011 we lost Huge Jackman to Les Miserables.  The production shut down and the whole art department was let go with the exception of our production designer, Francois Audouy, and me.  For two or three months Francois and I were the entire crew.  We continued working out scenes with our director and waited to see what would happen next. 

It was very strange keeping the show alive in a kind of vacuum.  In December 2011 more artists were hired back for a big presentation to the Fox executives. 

After Christmas we were all let go and then finally in May 2012, when it had been decided we would shoot in Australia, preproduction started once again and we never looked back.

MM: That sounds like a lot to go through, but the final product was worth it. Is there any funny memories you have from working all that time?
JC: If not the funniest, probably the most memorable thing that happened to me on the film was when, early in preproduction, we had a visitor to the art department.  Jim Mangold was giving a tour to what I assumed was some producer or other.  He got around to me and I stopped drawing, spun around in my chair and took the proffered hand as I stood up. 

Of course, I looked up to discover it was Hugh Jackman.  I must have frozen like a statue because the next thing I knew he was yanking his hand out of mine. 

Almost exactly a year later we found ourselves standing together on the POW camp set.  I reintroduced myself and it all went better the second time around.  As anyone who's worked with him will tell you, he's a great person.

MM: Everyone says Hugh Jackman is the nicest guy, so it must be true. Where will we see your work next?
JC: After The Wolverine I storyboarded Godzilla, The Muppets Most Wanted, and Dracula.  I also worked on Jurassic Park IV which, unfortunately, got put on hold.  It was a great team and I'm still hoping, as happened with The Wolverine, that we'll be reassembled and make it.

Thanks John! I can't wait to see your work on Godzilla.

See more of John Coven's portfolio at http://johncoven.net and come back tomorrow for my interview with storyboard artist Daniel James Cox!

Click on the links if you want to see more of John Coven's work and The Wolverine on my blog.

What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen The Wolverine what did you think?

Official The Wolverine Summary
Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he will face a host of unexpected and deadly opponents in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.

Directed by James Mangold
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Famke Janssen, Will Yun Lee, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Brian Tee

Release date: July 26, 2013 (USA)

Official Site: http://thewolverinemovie.com/us/

© Copyright 2014 Marvel Entertainment, The Donners' Company, Seed Productions, Hutch Parker Entertainment, 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved


  1. Bet that made you nervous when production shut down for a while. Hope the motorcycle fight is in the director's cut.


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