While the world at large might see The Wolverine as “Wolverine 2,” 20th Century Fox and the filmmakers behind the next installment in the X-Men film franchise have always been trying to establish this as something of a fresh start for the character of Logan/Wolverine, as made famous onscreen by actor Hugh Jackman. Back when Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky was helming the project, there was no doubt The Wolverine would be a superhero film unlike any previously seen in the X-Men canon (or beyond); under the direction of James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma) the shape and tone of the film have been less clear.
Production is underway on The Wolverine, which means Jackman is out doing his usual good job of PR and promotion – a campaign that seems to still be towing the line that this is a new jumping-on point for the character and the franchise.
The Wolverine picks up with its titular character wandering the far east (Japan to be exact) with little memory of himself and a rage he has yet to harness. When he happens upon a young woman from a powerful family, his romance with her sparks a gang war that also reveals some powerful new enemies Wolverine must face – even as he tries to master the beast within. It is based on a famous 1982 Wolverine comic book miniseries by Chris Claremont and Sin City creator, Frank Miller.
As Jackman told Total Film, that story will be the springboard for a new direction for the character – and will not be obligated to serve as a direct sequel to X-Men: Origins:
“We’ve deliberately not called it Wolverine 2 because we want it to be placed and feel like a standalone picture.”
“With an all-new cast and setting it in Japan, it’s going to give us a whole new visual aesthetic.”
“The approach to character means we won’t be overloaded with mutants and teams and the like, so it’ll be more character-based. I think in many ways it will feel like a completely different X-Men film.”
After the stumbles of both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, fans were glad to get a semi-fresh start with the reboot/prequel, X-Men: First Class. Recent news that First Class 2 will dive headlong into some time-travel storylines that (we speculate) could in fact “fix” the disjointed X-Men movie continuity (like X3 and XO:W) has only been met with more cheers. How this standalone film Jackman describes ultimately fits (or not) into the larger picture remains to be seen; however, if it turns out to be a good film (i.e., widely accepted by fans), they’ll find a way to make it canon, we’re sure.
As to the quality of the idea behind, The Wolverine, Jackman added:
So we went to Christopher McQuarrie, who was involved in X-Men and The Usual Suspects. He’s a brilliant writer and he came up with a concept that was just phenomenal. I rang [Dreamworks Animaton CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg] and he went ‘Great, now you have a good idea, just go for it…I’m just really glad it’s happening. For a while it’s felt like a rocky ride. I think it’s the best idea we’ve had, the strongest script we’ve had and that now we really have an opportunity to make something really great.”
While Jackman is known for being a great showman while promoting a film, he’s never been accused of being anything less than an earnest one. That’s to say: If his claim that McQuarrie’s script – which has since been revised by Die Hard 4 and Total Recall (2012) writer Mark Bomback, mind you – is indeed the best one he’s seen during his time with the franchise, there’s reason to believe it. And with Mangold’s talent behind the camera, and Jackman’s charisma and dramatic chops in front of it, there is indeed also reason to give The Wolverine the benefit of a clean slate upon which to paint a better picture than its predecessor.
With shooting now underway, a trailer showing us the initial results of the cast and crew’s work can’t be far off.
The Wolverine will be in theaters on July 26, 2013.