The filmmakers behind The Wolverine are being understandably tight-lipped about the details of their upcoming production, but that hasn't stopped them from building up a little enthusiasm with a few choice tidbits.
Director Darren Aronofsky delivered one of the more intriguing developments when he revealed that the film will not have ties to the existing X-Men franchise or the previous spin-off, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Producer Lauren Shuler Donner has promised that the script by Oscar-winning screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects) will be much closer in spirit to the source material. In this case, that source material is a successful run of Wolverine comics from the 1980s by Frank Miller and Chris Claremont, which focused on the character's exploits in Japan.
Aronofsky was one of several contenders vying the director's chair, but many speculated that his relationship with star Hugh Jackman tipped the odds in his favor. In a recent chat with Entertainment Weekly, Jackman confirms that Aronofsky was his top choice and that The Wolverine isn't the first X-Men movie they've discussed:
“I love every one of his movies ... He’s a visionary. I’ve been trying to get Darren since X-Men 3, really. We’ve been talking about this and Wolverine for so long.”
I'm personally dying to know what a Darren Aronofsky comic book movie looks like and The Wolverine seems like a much better match for his sensibilities than something like the Superman reboot. Jackman doesn't drop any bombshells, but he does say all the right things about Aronofsky's approach to the film:
“We had a meeting about three weeks ago, catching up as friends more than anything, and he just ran a few ideas by me and my eyes just lit up, because already I think this is like a whole new ballgame – just the ideas, the level of depth, and intelligence, and creativity. I think he’s been waiting so long to do a movie in this genre. When he found the script, he said this is it. It’s really exciting.”
Jackman talked a good game leading up to the release of the last Wolverine film, too - but I have to say, I'm really getting the impression that they've taken all the criticism that movie attracted to heart. Handing the reins over to an auteur like Aronofsky is probably the clearest example of that. Jackman obviously loves the character and although I hate what they did to Wolverine in his first spin-off, this entry sounds like it's coming together nicely.
Production is scheduled to begin in March, but Jackman's already got a lot of work to do. He says that Aronofsky has asked him to pack on 25 pounds of muscle before they start shooting, which is more than he's ever put on for the role. To tackle that somewhat daunting challenge, Jackman admits that he's reached out to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for some pointers:
"It’s not easy for me ... Because I’m actually quite long and lean ... I had a chat with Dwayne Johnson, who did 25 pounds for his movie. I rang him up and was like, Okay, tell me what’s going on.”
Presumably, the film he's referring to is Faster. You have to respect Jackman's dedication to the role and his desire to create a superior film. Between The Wolverine and X-Men: First Class, this is starting to seem like a really good time to be an X-Men fan.
Aronofsky's latest film, Black Swan, is in limited release right now. The Wolverine is scheduled to hit theaters in the summer of 2012.