When Mark Wahlberg discussed his intentions to make a sequel to The Fighter earlier this month, the response from some of the original film's fans wasn't overwhelmingly positive. Many insisted that the filmmakers would be wise to just leave it be and asserted that The Fighter 2 ran the risk of becoming another unfortunate entry into Hollywood's pantheon of unnecessary follow-ups.
Wahlberg doesn't see it that way. Not only is he staying in shape for a potential Fighter sequel, he also believes that most of the cast & crew would probably be game for another round as well. Although the project is far from being official, Wahlberg already has one other Fighter-alum in his corner - director David O. Russell.
Russell has never made a sequel to any of his previous films, but his long-standing working relationship with Wahlberg seemed to make his involvement with The Fighter 2 a very real possibility. The pair are currently busy with Cocaine Cowboys and an adaptation of the video game Uncharted, but that doesn't mean that Russell isn't willing to help continue the real-life story of "Irish" Micky Ward.
Speaking with MTV, the eclectic filmmaker revealed that he's incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate in The Fighter 2 - and that he's ready to get started on the sequel right away:
"I think that would be awesome ... I just love those characters and I think we could do a lot of fun and interesting stuff ... I would do it whenever anyone says they're ready ... I'm ready to write it."
I suppose it should be noted that he only expresses interest in writing the script and doesn't indicate that he'd return to direct as well. I'm not saying we should take more from that statement than what's intended - only that it struck me as very specific phrasing. Russell currently has a lot on his plate and it's probably just way too early in the film's development to know how it's all going to pan out.
Russell goes on to say that because the real Micky Ward is such a compelling character, it doesn't really matter which direction The Fighter 2 takes the story in:
"I think Micky's story has a lot of heart whichever way you cut it ... You'd go towards the Gatti fights and you could go into the history of the family more. I really like the sisters."
Wahlberg has previously stated that he has no desire to turn The Fighter into the next Rocky franchise - he believes that one more film centered around Ward's three fights with Arturo Gatti would be enough. I can understand how many would be turned off by the idea of a sequel, but boxing fans know that those fights truly were the defining chapters in Ward's legacy.
There's still an intriguing second half of Micky Ward's story to be told and I think The Fighter 2 could potentially be a very different film than its predecessor. Detractors are convinced that Wahlberg's co-stars Melissa Leo and Christian Bale might not be interested in reprising their Academy Award-winning roles, but I'm not so sure - particularly when it comes to Bale, who has an unbelievably strong affection for the real-life Dicky Eklund. There may not be another Oscar in it for him, but I'm fairly certain that wouldn't factor into his decision at all - Bale's just not that kind of guy.
The original was one of the best films I saw last year, but that doesn't mean that I'm ready to write off The Fighter 2 just yet. I think we should wait and see how this film continues to develop before we decide just how unnecessary it really is.