Are you ready for the return of the X-Men franchise to the big screen? X-Men: First Class is currently in its final stretch of principal photography and early next year, Wolverine 2 begins shooting, bringing back franchise star Hugh Jackman as the title character.

A few weeks ago, plot details for Wolverine 2 leaked online, revealing key story elements and listing most of the main characters. The details were not too surprising, considering the film takes place in Japan and is based on Frank Miller and Chris Claremont’s Wolverine comics from the 1980s, but now we have new information which explains the title of the film and where it will stand in X-Men franchise continuity.

HitFix had a chance to speak with Darren Aronofsky earlier today for his film Black Swan but managed to nab a few important tidbits about his next project, the one featuring everyone’s favorite Adamantium-laced mutant. The short of it is that the sequel to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine will simply be titled The Wolverine.

The lack of a number to indicate it’s a sequel is because it isn’t a typical sequel. It’s a “one-off” as Aronofsky describes it, a separate standalone story about the character, without ties to the franchise or its predecessor. Considering the franchise has had two misfires in a row – critically speaking – it’s a sensible move.

Twentieth Century Fox is seemingly working diligently to distance themselves from the poor conclusion to the X-Men trilogy in The Last Stand as well as the disappointing critical response to X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Aside from simple title changes, new locations and different stories being told with The Wolverine and X-Men: First Class, both films have new writers and new directors – big name talent, no less – to offer a fresh start to what can easily become two long-term and viable spin-off franchises. Deadpool of course, can be the third if they can get that off the ground soon and we know that will have little-to-nothing to do with X-Men Origins: Wolverine either.

Perhaps more importantly to Fox, opening the door to standalone movies about their poster boy character allows for a James Bond style of franchise for Wolverine which is the appropriate fit for a character who can live through the ages and can work off of one-off films and separated trilogies, etc. Hugh Jackman won’t be able to play Wolverine forever, but the character isn’t going anywhere.

Just over a year ago, Katie Couric conducted an enlightening interview with Hugh Jackman where he spoke about his love for the character and the desire for more Wolverine movies in the future.

The Wolverine begins shooting in March for a 2012 Summer release.

Follow us on Twitter @rob_keyes and @screenrant.

Source: HitFix