2011 was a rough year for The Wolverine (a.k.a. Wolverine 2). The X-Men spinoff flick was originally supposed to hit theaters this summer, with Hugh Jackman working under the direction of Oscar-nominee Darren Aronofsky; that is, before Aronofsky bailed on the project, and the Japanese tsunami forced an additional delay in production, and then shooting under new helmer James Mangold was pushed back again, to the latter portion of Spring 2012.
However, once Jackman wraps up his role in director Tom Hooper's Les Misérables musical adaptation, he is expected to begin work on The Wolverine - and 20th Century Fox has now officially slated the movie to hit theaters in Summer 2013, on the assumption that there will not be any additional major production holdups.
Fox has selected a July 26th, 2013 theatrical release date for The Wolverine, where it will face "competition" in the forms of the Phineas and Ferb movie, along with the Dirty Dancing remake. That also means the Wolverine 2 will be arriving well over a month after Warner Bros./DC unleashes Man of Steel - so there shouldn't be any major overlap, as far as grabbing the attention of the comic book movie crowd goes.
This move also essentially guarantees that the X-Men: First Class sequel - which Matthew Vaughn recently closed a deal to direct - will not be arriving in theaters until Summer 2014. For fans who were worried about Fox trying to rush the First Class followup through production in order to make a 2013 date (due to the uncertain status of the new Wolverine franchise installment), that is comforting knowledge.
Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie's original screenplay for The Wolverine has been reworked by Mark Bomback (Unstoppable, Live Free or Die Hard), but the central storyline is most likely still intact. The plot should therefore revolve around Logan/Wolverine, who is dealing with the aftermath of the memory-erasing injuries he sustained in X-Men Origins: Wolverine in a new adventure full of danger and romance in Japan, based partially upon Chris Claremont and Frank Miller’s popular 1982 Wolverine comic book story arc.
Mangold has spoken out before about how The Wolverine will not only be more of a nuanced character study, but also depart heavily from the standard superhero movie narrative. Similarly, Jackman has promised many times over that his latest (last?) portrayal of Logan onscreen will be much more akin to the character as presented in the original X-Men comics - not only in terms of his antiheroic attitude and raging tendencies, but also more his traditional compact and bulky physique.
The Wolverine will primarily be a standalone movie that flies high or fails on its own terms; nonetheless, it will also have to combat the lingering bad taste left in moviegoers' mouths by Wolvie's debut solo venture. Whether it can be successful in only one, both, or neither regard, that remains to be seen.
We will find out for certain when The Wolverine arrives in theaters (at last) on July 26th, 2013.
Source: 20th Century Fox