After making over $340 million worldwide, there was no doubt that Universal was going to make a sequel to the high-impact action film, Wanted. But, due to a range of reasons, Wanted 2 has been stuck in development hell for the last three years.
That changed last week when screenwriter Derek Haas - who co-wrote the first film with writing partner Michael Brandt - announced via Twitter that he and Brandt had been hired by Universal to script the sequel. After more than a year of no news, Wanted fans finally had something new to talk about it. But Haas' announcement raised more questions than answers.
What would the film be like without Angelina Jolie (who objected to having her character raised from the dead)? Will Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov bring his insane action sensibilities back for the sequel?
To get to the bottom of these questions and learn more about the film, I reached out to Derek Haas directly. Haas generously agreed to answer some of my questions by e-mail.
As expected, Haas couldn't give me all of the information on the film, but he did share some interesting details on what he and Brandt intend to accomplish with Wanted 2, and how the second film will thematically tie into the first:
Screen Rant: Wanted 2 has been in some form of development now since 2008, going through several writer and cast changes. How did you and your writing partner Michael Brandt get involved in the franchise again?
DH: We really wanted to work on it following the first film but didn't get the chance to, for various reasons. We got a call from Universal a month or so ago asking if we had interest in returning to the WANTED world and we leapt at the chance.
You told The Wrap that the sequel would pick up with the Wesley character several years after the events of the first film. What has Wesley been doing for the last few years? Also, because the first film's narrative was driven by Wesley's character arc from loser to bad ass assassin, how will the sequel be different now that he understands his abilities?
Good questions. We'd tell you, but then we'd have to curve a bullet through your head from two miles away.
On Twitter, you said that your draft of Wanted 2 wouldn't feature the Fox character or the "Loom of Fate." What elements of The Fraternity will return for the second film? Will the four other chapters of The Fraternity from Mark Millar's original graphic novel play a role in the new movie? Also, given that the organization is supposed to be 1,000 years old, will you draw on the history of The Fraternity for the screenplay?
I think I've said too much already. I'm one of those guys who doesn't even like to watch trailers because I'd rather the whole film be a surprise when I walk into the theater. This movie is going to introduce some new characters to the WANTED world while staying grounded. We tried to do that in the first one, and we'll try to do it here. In the first movie, the mantra was "kill one, save a thousand." We're going to turn that on its head.
Timur Bekmambetov's over-the-top action sequences were one of the main reasons that Wanted was a huge hit at the box office. Not knowing whether Bekmambetov will return for the sequel, will you be writing action sequences differently to match the director's unique visual style?
I am going to wrestle that Russian maniac into Universal and make him direct this one again.
Obviously, your job is to turn in the best draft of the screenplay you can write, but what else do you know about the film's development schedule? If Universal loves your screenplay, what else needs to fall into place to get Wanted 2 on the big screen?
If you tried to game out all of the "what ifs" on how a movie gets to screen, you'd drive yourself insane. All you can do is write the screenplay you'd want to see on the screen, and hope that everyone else shares that vision.
It's already been a long road for Universal to bring Wanted 2 to the big screen, and there's still no guarantee that the film will get made, but Haas' answers do reveal some interesting tidbits about what the movie will look like if it does see the light of day. The prospect of flipping the "kill one, save a thousand" idea from the first film is particularly interesting. Will Wesley (assuming James McAvoy wants to return to the film) work his way through other elements of The Fraternity to save someone important? Who are the new characters Haas mentioned, and what are their ties to Wesley? What do you think the plot of Wanted 2 will be?
All thoughts and theories are welcome in the comments. In the meantime, if you're looking for more from Haas and Brandt, check out their upcoming thriller The Double starring Richard Gere and Topher Grace. That film, which Brandt also directed, hits theaters in10 U.S. cities on October 28th. Haas also has a new novel coming out in December, Dark Men, the third in his popular "Silver Bear" spy series.