[Update: There are now conflicting reports that The Wolverine won’t be delayed, and will start filming in Canada this fall. Scroll down for details.]

Hugh Jackman was the poster boy for Bryan Singer’s X-Men trilogy, and even though the director dropped out of the third installment, Jackman remained the star of the show in the career-making role of Wolverine. The success of the mutant franchise led Jackman to getting his own spin-off movie, a prequel explaining his character’s history in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While critics panned it as another weak installment in the franchise after the poorly received X-Men: The Last Stand, the movie made big coin as the summer’s kick-off movie of 2009.

This success led to the quick greenlight of a sequel, to be titled The Wolverine, that would explore a story from Marvel Comics that Hugh Jackman really wanted to get into: that of Wolverine’s adventures in Japan. With a screenplay from Christopher McQuarrie and the re-teaming of Jackman with Oscar nominated director Darren Aronofsky, things were looking up until a number of factors started to claw away at the plans Twentieth Century Fox had in mind.

Aronofsky dropped out of The Wolverine, shattering some expectations early, then the awful and destructive weather conditions Japan fought through put a damper on principal photography plans for March. Fox was able to find a replacement director in James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma) but still hasn’t locked down a schedule.

We spoke with Jackman at Comic-Con in July and he seemed optimistic for the project, confirming the main villain of the movie as the Silver Samurai, and that they plan to shoot in October. Now comes word that the production may be pushed back even further, to some point in spring 2012, after Jackman finishes with Les Miserables.

Deadline has the scoop which also reveals that since Japan is still recovering, the production may move to Canada, saving only a bit for Japan, if any at all. What’s really a bummer is that if production on The Wolverine does in fact change location to Canada, then Darren Aronofsky could have directed it all along, especially since it is being delayed. The official reason for his departure on the project was that he didn’t want to shoot overseas for an extended period of time, keeping him away from family.

There was of course speculation of creative differences between him and the studio regarding the story and style of The Wolverine, but Mangold is the new man in charge when it still could have been Aronofsky. Hindsight is a kicker.

UPDATE: A Celebrity & Entertainment writer for the Vancouver Sun contacted us when this story was posted, claiming that The Wolverine will NOT be delayed, but rather will start filming in Canada this fall. As writer/reporter Katya Holloway told us via Twitter:

Wolverine is scheduled to begin filming in Vancouver in November

As of now FOX has not made any comment on which version of the story is true, but it seemed as though Holloway was pretty certain of the production schedule. We’ll have to wait and see. Stay tuned.

A spring start date – which Fox still hasn’t confirmed – would have The Wolverine hitting theaters as far as way as summer 2013 unless they can rush it for a holiday release in 2012. With no timeline on a sequel to X-Men: First Class or the teased X-Men 4 and New Mutants movies, the X-Men franchise is getting installments few and far between.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Deadline