X-Men fans have become increasingly concerned about the potential quality of The Wolverine (a.k.a. Wolverine 2) ever since director Darren Aronofsky abandoned the project. While a solid replacement, in the form of James Mangold, was eventually hired on to fill his place, the combination of production delays and significant script rewrites have left many people grumbling about how this sequel seems destined to follow in the (mediocre) footsteps of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
However, between star Hugh Jackman talking up the possibility of a R-Rated cut of The Wolverine and a recent interview with Mangold, discussing his approach to the film, there is arguably still very good reason to remain hopeful that this new X-Men flick will be something memorable.
“I spoke to Darren [Aronofsky] a bit about it before I ended up taking it on. But I will tell you that when Darren stepped off, I was in the middle of doing a lot of other things, and when it was brought up to me, I actually didn’t even consider it… It was, oh, who wants to do that, and follow that, and I could hear all of the media swirl about it. Several months went by and I hadn’t even really read [the ‘Wolverine’ script], and later when they came back to me and I kind of took it in, and a lot of that hand-wringing had kind of died down. What I saw was some really promising material, and to me an interesting character played by a great friend of mine who’s a terrific actor, Hugh Jackman.”
Jackman previously collaborated with Mangold on the time period-jumping 2001 rom-com Kate & Leopold. Between that film and the crime drama/Noir flick Cop Land, the true-story inspired “big personality” character studies Girl, Interrupted and Walk the Line, the gritty Western thriller 3:10 to Yuma, along with the popcorn action movie Knight and Day, Mangold has demonstrated himself to be a fairly versatile director – as far as his ability to handle different genres goes.
In fact, based on his description of The Wolverine (see below), Mangold’s X-Men flick almost sounds like a collage of plot, character, and genre elements from his previous films:
“It’s a kind of adventure following such a unique character also in a really unique environment. I mean, the fact that half of the characters in this movie speak Japanese, this is like a foreign-language superhero movie that’s as much a drama and a detective story and a film noir, with high-octane action as it is anything like a conventional tentpole film… I think part of the reason I’m doing this picture has been because it isn’t, to me, a conventional superhero movie. It isn’t an origin story, so I’m freed from that burden, and it also isn’t a save-the-world movie, which most of them are. It’s actually a character piece; I actually think it has more in common with ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ and ‘Chinatown,’ what we’re doing, than the conventional, ‘will Wolverine and his compatriots save the world from this thermonuclear device’ question.”
Mangold also offered the following – with respect to The Wolverine‘s thematic qualities:
“I think more than anything, it’s a character piece, asking really interesting questions that are what pulled me in about what it means to be immortal. What is it to live forever, when you lose everyone you’ve ever loved? Either you watch them get killed, or you just lose them by attrition. What is it to feel the burden of saving mankind through all of its mistakes, over and over and over again… I like to think that we’re out to make that Wolverine movie that people have been looking forward to seeing, which takes on some of the darker and more intense aspects of the character, and his own journey, that have not necessarily been possible in the origin story that they did or obviously when he’s sharing so much time as a character with so many others in X-Men.”
Mangold has been collaborating with Mark Bomback (Live Free or Die Hard, Unstoppable) on the task of reworking Christopher McQuarrie’s original draft of the Wolverine screenplay – which is based partially on Chris Claremont’s acclaimed 1982 Wolverine comic book story arc about the eponymous Adamantium claw-wielding mutant’s adventures in Japan.
While that’s a promising narrative basis, the X-Men film franchise arguably has a mixed track record when it comes to the execution of intriguing plot material. Case in point: the largely-disliked X-Men: The Last Stand is often criticized for fumbling two acclaimed narrative threads from the original comic books (re: the “mutant cure” and Dark Phoenix storylines).
If nothing else, though, this year’s X-Men: First Class appears to have restored many distraught fans’ faith in the X-Men movie franchise. So, hopefully, between the involvement of a competent director like Mangold, what reads as an intelligent storytelling approach, and Jackman’s (seeming) unabating enthusiasm for the film, The Wolverine will likewise mark another good addition to the franchise.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of The Wolverine as more information is released.
Source: The Playlist