Hugh Jackman and director James Mangold both wanted to end the Wolverine saga on a grace note. The fact that it’s uncompromisingly brutal (fully justifying its R-rating) only reinforces the final salvation. It’s their version of western classic “Shane,” and the minimalist score from Marco Beltrami (Oscar-nominated for “The Hurt Locker”) hits the right emotional chord.
“I knew it was going to be tricky because the visuals were going to lead and the music played more of a textural role,” Beltrami told IndieWire. “Jim didn’t want a [traditional] thematic score — he wanted an emotionally supportive score. So there was a delicate balance, and I experimented with some unique instruments for it.”
For “The Old Man Logan” theme (which you can listen to below courtesy of Lakeshore Records), this included Hammond organ, glass harmonica, and drum kits. This established the world-weary mood of the mutant hiding out in a dystopian future after most of the mutant race has been killed.
Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein
“Jim wanted it to be mysterious and so I made it almost minimal in construction in order to do things as organically as possible,” added Beltrami, who previously scored “The Wolverine” and Oscar-nominated “3:10 to Yuma” for Mangold.
Overall, the score was in keeping with a gritty ’70s vibe that incorporates the western and the road picture in grounding the Wolverine finale. In their discussions, Mangold specifically referenced such inspirational films as “The Gauntlet” and “Paper Moon,” which didn’t have a score but was analogous to Logan’s poignant relationship with the young mutant girl, Laura (Dafne Keen).
Laura’s theme, meanwhile, was also based on organ and glass harmonica to musically unite her with Logan. Additionally a very simple two-note repetition recurs several times, including a tender moment with Xavier (Patrick Stewart), who is cared for by Logan and Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a sensitive mutant with special tracking powers.
When Xavier almost magically calms a group of horses on the side of the road, Beltrami used a harmonic guitar, which lent a soft, supernatural aura.
Action music, though, was subdued, except for a few bombastic moments, such as a car chase alongside a train. But there’s so much going on in the sound mix that it’s hard to hear the propulsive score.
For the villainous Reavers and the X-24 super Wolverine clone, Beltrami created a low, menacing synthetic sound. An inversion of the same low interval was used for Logan and Laura during their fighting scenes.
“It’s very simple but I wanted it to be connected and all from the same family,” Beltrami said.