Yesterday, Empire Magazine revealed its 3D covers for their special ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ issue, but what wasn’t revealed was that inside is a fantastic article with director James Mangold about his upcoming film ‘The Wolverine.’

Along with the interview, Empire also nabbed an exclusive still (which can be seen below) from the movie of Logan sporting bone claws getting ready to do some damage in what looks like a dungeon/pit. Yes, that’s right – bone claws!

Those who are only familiar with Wolverine from the movies may be wondering why the bones claws while comic book aficionados already know that answer. In the early days of the Wolverine comics, Logan was a mutant whose skeleton was enhanced with adamantium and in the process, his claws were added. Then somewhere along the line, Marvel had a great idea to retcon his origins and state that the claws had been with him since birth and were coated with adamantium the same time his skeletal system was.

So does that mean that ‘The Wolverine’ will basically be a prequel to what we’ve seen already in the theaters? Not really, says Mangold. According to him, the film follows Logan and what happens after the events of the other ‘X-Men’ films:

“Where this film sits in the universe of the films is after them all. Jean Grey is gone, most of the X-Men are disbanded or gone, so there’s a tremendous sense of isolation for him.”

This is an eye opening statement as it was long thought that ‘The Wolverine’ would be a prequel since the film not only has been touted as a stand-alone installment of the ‘X-Men’ movie series but is also said to be based on the Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s comic series ‘Wolverine,’ which takes place before Logan joined the X-Men.

Apparently this was a very conscientious decision on the director’s part as it allowed the film to be able to explore aspects of Wolverine’s character that couldn’t be done in a team setting.

‘That’s something that for me was very important, that I land in a very specific place in this timeline,” explains Mangold. “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. 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.”

From the various photos of the sets from the movie (like the one of the World War II POW camp) combined with the still of the bone claws below, if the film is supposed to occur after the events of ‘X-Men: Last Stand,’ then there must be quite a few flashback sequences that will be thrown in throughout ‘The Wolverine.’

What is clear, however, is that the film will be major. As Mangold describes it, ‘The Wolverine’ is a “Japanese noir picture with tentpole action in it.”

After the disappointment of ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine,’ I’m happy to hear that. How about you? What are your thoughts of this present timeline? Sound off in the comments below!