The Wolverine director James Mangold is opening up about his film in the latest issue of Empire, revealing some surprising information – mainly that the entry is set primarily after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Via Collider:

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

“That’s something that for me was very important, that I land in a very specific place in his timeline,” says 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.”

Mangold’s approach makes a lot of sense and represents something of a fresh start for the character. X-Men Origins: Wolverine had a litany of problems, but chief among them was its flimsy prequel status (did it ever once feel like the 70s?) and predilection to cram as many recognizable mutants into the film as running time allowed. What makes the chronological setting a surprise is that it defies Chris Claremont’s Wolverine run in the 80s, rumored to be source material for the film. Those issues chronicled Logan away from the X-Men, though still very much a member. Also adding to the confusion, this picture:

Note the bone claws. So obviously some of this film is bound to cover a portion of Logan’s past, likely his time in Japan in WWII as a prisoner of war. But placing the majority of the film ahead of The Last Stand, thus making it a sequel, is a wise choice indeed. At the very least Mangold won’t be working to fit his story into what’s already come before. Especially given the limp fart of a note Stand ended on (two hours for Magneto to move a chess piece). I dare say today is the first time I’ve felt a tinge of excitement for this new film.

James Mangold’s The Wolverine snikts theaters July 26th, 2013.