This afternoon a piece of pop culturey bad news came out that I wasn’t expecting. It turns out that Darren Aronofsky, the auteur director behind The Wrestler and Black Swan, has bowed out of what was supposed to be his next project, The Wolverine. Yes, that Wolverine. Aronofsky and Hugh Jackman, who had struck up a friendship and working relationship with 2006’s The Fountain, were going to make a standalone film about everyone’s favourite Adamatium-boned and clawed Canadian. Not only did that duo hold a lot of promise, but the source material was going to be the classic 80’s Wolverine mini-series, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller, which saw Logan travel to Japan for a run-in with samurais, ninjas, gangsters and heartbreak. If you’re unfamiliar with the 4 issue series, nearly thirty years later it’s still considered the quintessential Wolverine story and one fans have always dreamed of seeing on the big screen. With Aronofksy, far from a mainstream filmmaker, onboard, The Wolverine held a lot of promise of being unlike any comic book film we’d ever seen before. However, with Aronofsky reluctant to commit to an extended out of country shooting schedule that would keep him away from his family for too long, the director has departed the film.
So now the question is, who will step into his shoes?
After the critical and commercial ennui that greeted Gavin Hood’s 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was pretty clear that the character needed a shake-up. Seeing 20th Century Fox willing to take on an unconvential creator like Darren Aronofsky was promising, especially when you look at the drought of quality Marvel films the studio has put out the last couple years. Hopefully, they’re willing to take a chance on a filmmaker who can offer up an interesting style to The Wolverine (Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for The Usual Suspects, has written the script, based off of Claremont and Millers mini-series).
Who would I pick to take on the task? If David Slade hadn’t just committed to a new Daredevil film, I’d certainly put his name at the top of the list. He’s handled blockbusters (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) but also has a brilliant dark side (see 30 Days Of Night). What about someone like Frank Darabont? Besides being the king of quality Stephen King adaptations, he’s also the showrunner of AMC’s The Walking Dead, so he knows his comic book world. Season 2 of the show might be keeping him busy, though.
The one choice that I kept coming back to when I posed this question to myself seemed like the most obvious answer. And maybe even the best. Bryan Singer, the director of the first two X-Men films and the producer of this summer’s X-Men: First Class would be an ideal pick to helm The Wolverine. He has a familiarity and love of the characters in the X-Universe, clearly demonstrated by his returning to the franchise after walking away in 2004 to work on Superman Returns. He has a great working relationship with Hugh Jackman and can also handle the darker stuff (Apt Pupil, anyone). He also has a long working relationship with scriptwriter McQuarrie, which would only serve to better the film.
The Wolverine is supposed to start filming this summer, so there is a bit of time before a decision has to be made. I’m curious to see who gets the job. How about you?