Director Nicolas Winding Refn delivered one of 2011’s most talked about films with Drive. In an industry that is riding high on successes from fan-favorite superhero films, Drive presented viewers with a provocative look at a different kind of “hero.” Even though the film was snubbed by The Academy, Refn’s efforts, along with star Ryan Gosling, became one of the most celebrated films of 2011 – among moviegoers and critics alike.

As a result, the film’s ambiguous ending left many fans hoping that the pair would reunite for a sequel – so that audiences could see the continuing adventures of Driver (and his scorpion jacket). Now, one year later, Refn is putting a definitive end to hopes that we’ll ever see a Drive 2 – while at the same time hinting the Driver character may be up for another ride.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Refn confronted the Drive 2 rumors head-on:

“That is never going to happen. But the character of The Driver might return in another film. We’re playing with that idea. We’ll see what happens.”

However, eight months back, Refn seemed undecided about the possibility of a potential Drive franchise, stating: “Well, I think that… hmm. Let me just say that I haven’t made up my mind yet. Stranger things have happened…” Around the same time, the director also addressed the film’s open-ended finale, claiming that “[Driver] lives on for more and new adventures.

Considering Refn’s recent hardline denial of future Drive installments is coupled with the vague “idea” of Driver returning in another film – it’s likely that the director and Gosling have narrowed down how they’d like to position future installments even if they don’t have a concrete story idea yet. While a prequel could still be on the table, coupled with his prior comments, Refn seems to be indicating that the filmmakers always envisioned Driver continued on for future adventures – and that the team would be interested in exploring at least one of them. However, any future Driver stories would stand on their own – specifically without concern for tying back to the events of Drive (i.e. Los Angeles, Irene and Benicio, etc.).

Standalone Driver spin-off stories would come as a disappointment to any fans hoping for a return of Carey Mulligan, not to mention a happy-ever-after end for Irene and Driver. That said, mixing up the formula could help position any future Driver installments for success, given that a major strength of Drive was its storytelling flexibility – since the film wasn’t tied to a well-known movie brand.

Of course, Refn could also be playing coy about future Drive installments – given that the film was loosely based on the 2005 novel by James Sallis. It’s unclear at this point how many creative liberties Refn would have in subsequent films – especially since Sallis has previously hinted that a film adaptation of Driven (his direct novel follow-up to Drive) was “in the pipeline.” The Driven story is a sequel, so if Refn’s recent “never going to happen” comment is to be believed, the director and Gosling are not going to join up for Driven. As a result, Driven is in an especially difficult spot, considering most moviegoers would probably rather see Refn and Gosling’s next unattached variation of Driver – rather than a more “official” follow-up that’s missing the director/star pair.

Then again, Refn’s comment about Driver returning in “another film” might be just a tongue-in-cheek tease – as the character could just enjoy a prequel cameo, i.e. sit in the background, of the director’s next movie (also starring Gosling), Only God Forgives. Not likely but, as Refn said, “Stranger things have happened.”

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Drive, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Drive is available now on Blu-ray, digital download, and DVD.

Source: Evening Standard [via The PlayList]