As Darren Aronofsky moves closer to the director’s chair for X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2, people have been in disbelief. The guy is coming off a movie that’s been a festival hit (although it hasn’t opened to the public yet) that’s likely to earn at least an Oscar nom for an actress or two, if not more. Why would he want to jump into a superhero sequel? And what’s more, why would he want to jump into a superhero sequel at Fox, a studio that gave previous prestige director Gavin Hood a hard time and turned out a truly awful Wolverine movie?
Part of the answer, I think, is that he wants to. Make no mistake - Darren Aronofsky recognizes that Frank Miller Wolverine #1 cover just as easily as you do. And with Wolverine 2 to be a Japan-set, Miller/Claremont-esque story (in theory, anyway), Aronofsky would be working in territory familiar and fun for him.
The next part is that Hugh Jackman is his boy. They had a good experience on The Fountain. But more importantly, Jackman is Wolverine. The franchise lives and dies on him, and while it’s possible that he didn’t exert enough control on the first film, I guarantee that won’t be the case this time. Jackman’s not been exactly able to break out beyond the character. I don’t think Jackman’s career is threatened or anything, but Wolverine is his meal ticket and he wants to keep the character up and running as long as possible. Don’t be shocked if Jackman ends up playing Wolverine in nine or more films before he’s done with it.
Add in his friendship with Aronofsky and you’ll see Jackman as a guy who is heavily invested in getting Wolverine 2 made to the director’s specifications. And unlike Hood, Aronofsky is a known quantity to the actor (who also produces the films). It’s completely in Jackman’s best interest to run interference between the director and the studio. And with the first movie being a sizable hit, Jackman has the necessary clout.
And then there’s the fact that Fox is letting Matthew Vaughn do seemingly whatever he wants on X-Men: First Class. I don’t know how that movie will turn out, but seeing an X-Men film set during the Mad Men era really makes you realize that for once Fox has thrown away the How to Make Mediocre to Bad Movies rule book and is doing something different. That sense of creative detente can only benefit Wolverine 2.
But most of all I think Aronofsky really wants to make a movie like this. Aronofsky wants to get into the big budgets. His visions are not ten million dollar movies, they’re hundred million dollar movies, and he’s looking for the foothold to get into that level. Wolverine 2 could be the ‘one for them’ that really gives him a ‘one for me.’
So I look at Wolverine 2 as a hugely promising, kind of exciting thing - should Aronofsky helm it. It’s a great match of filmmaker and material and it’s an even better match of talent and hunger.