A thousand influences went into the making of X-MEN:TAS. On this, the hundredth anniversary of Robert Mitchum’s birth, I thought I’d celebrate one of them.
I don’t know what models writer Len Wein had in his head when, in 1974, he first built the personality of a short, tough Canadian mutant. Our show’s voice actor Cal Dodd says he looked at our reference suggestions of Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and Ward Bond and focused on the strength and authority of Bond, with a bit of the loner spirit of McQueen. For me, it was always the fourth name we put on the character sheet: Bob Mitchum. When I was editing Logan’s dialogue in those 76 episodes, it was more Bob Mitchum I was hearing in my head (along with Cal) than anybody — a little angrier, more energetic, certainly connected to the comics, but Mitchum-like none-the-less. Once we got the cast set, I was thrilled to be writing for Cal Dodd; for the first few months, as X-MEN:TAS was coming to life, I was writing for Bob Mitchum.
Mitchum was everything we wanted Logan to be: intense, brooding, angry, heroic, romantic, but above all, tough. He was beyond tough: in Cape Fear (1962), he played one of the scariest villains in movie history, calmly, just staring, just talking, just smiling. You sensed he could hurt you. Yet something in him made for great romantic-lead heroes as well, like Jeff Bailey in Out of the Past (1947). Finally, I often mention to people that on our show I envisioned Logan as “world-weary” (as he was in the movie Logan). Well, no actor in history did world-weary better than Mitchum. Watch him struggling in The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), and your heart breaks. Finally, there was that voice: deep as a black pool. When we sent in the voice suggestions to the auditioning actors, when Eastwood and McQueen were listed, I added “but deeper.” I never had to add that with Mitchum.