Hugh Jackman is set to reprise his leading role in The Wolverine next year, in what should be one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer.

We got our first official look at Jackman last month, and now a new image has made its way online, in scanned form from the latest issue of Empire, along with word from director James Mangold himself on where the film is positioned in regards to the other X-Men films.

We’d originally believed that the film would be a prequel, with set photos suggesting a WWII-set plot, but Mangold has now revealed that that isn’t quite the case:

“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.”

Adding that it will take place outside of the continuity of the original trilogy:

“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. 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.”

Given this new image below, we can expect that at least part of the film will be a prequel to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it looks like the film will mostly be following them (though not directly as a sequel).

“Based on the celebrated comic book arc, The Wolverine finds Logan, the eternal warrior and outsider, inJapan. There, samurai steel will clash with adamantium claw asLoganconfronts a mysterious figure from his past in an epic battle that will leave him forever changed.”

Mangold is directing from a script penned by Christopher McQuarrie and Mark Bomback, with Jackman starring alongside Hiroyuki Sanada, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee, Hal Yamanouchi, Brian Tee, and Svetlana Khodchenkova.

There have also been rumours that Famke Janssen is reprising her role as Jean Grey, which would definitely be an intriguing addition to the cast and plot.

The Wolverine is set to unleash its claws in the UK and US on 26th July, 2013, making it one of the most prominently-positioned films of next summer. We can’t wait to see what Mangold brings to the table; it has a lot of potential, and we’ve every reason to expect it’s going to live it up to it and then some. For now, here’s the new scanned image, which you can click to enlarge; hopefully we’ll have a hi-res version for you soon.