It didn’t take long after the character of Wolverine got added to the X-Men back in 1975’s “Giant Size X-Men #1” for him to take the pop culture world by storm and become one of the most beloved and prolific characters in comic book history. By the time 1982 rolled around, the character was so big that he was ready for his first solo title, and so a Chris Claremont-penned Frank Miller-penciled four issue mini-series was released seeing the character travel to Japan, get engaged to a woman named Mariko, and battle some modern day samurai. That first Wolverine in Japan storyline showed the most human side of the character we had seen yet, and over time it has become pretty seminal. That’s why the upcoming sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, adapted to the screen by The Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie and simply titled The Wolverine, will be drawing on it heavily for inspiration.
But we’ve known all of that for a while. What is the new news on the development of this project? The Wolverine used to be a highly anticipated upcoming film back when Darren Aronofsky was attached to direct, but once he dropped off the hype machine died down quite a bit. The last we heard about it, 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold was most likely to be stepping into Aronofsky’s shoes, and shooting would most likely begin in fall. That news was met with a collective “meh” from the online world, so we haven’t gotten much follow-up yet; but a new story in the Vancouver Sun seems to confirm that it’s true. According to them, some shooting for the film is scheduled to take place in Vancouver starting in November, so despite the fact that there’s never been a big, official announcement for Mangold as director, it’s more than likely he’s on board and all systems are go.
I’m still pretty disappointed that we won’t get to see Aronofsky’s version of this film get made, and it’s kind of a letdown that the studio wasn’t able to find a flashier replacement for him than James Mangold, but this is probably the future comic book movie that I’m most looking forward to after the big tent pole releases of The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers hit. It feels like those two movies are kind of the apex, the climax of this whole comic book movie fad, and after they come out studios will be scrambling to find new approaches to the superhero genre to fill the void. While Mangold might not be flashy, at least he isn’t bad. And seeing as this is still a really great story for a Wolverine movie to follow, and Hugh Jackman is still on board to play the character, I don’t see why The Wolverine couldn’t end up being awesome. And if it ends up doing well, maybe a Wolverine in Japan story will usher in a new wave of superhero stories that take a more off the beaten path approach to the material than the origin re-telling/battle with the arch villain blockbusters we’ve been getting. Up next I want a trippy art film starring Professor X that takes place all on the astral plane. Let’s get Terrence Malick to direct.