Will Darren Aronofsky end up directing 'Wolverine 2'?
No. Probably not.
But let's look at why this conversation is even possible.
Well, for one thing, if you're the maker of "Pi" and "Requiem For A Dream" and "The Fountain" and "The Wrestler" and "Black Swan," you are not the guy who is paying the light bills at 20th Century Fox. If you're the guy who made "Wolverine 2" for a respectable price and kept the studio's movie star happy, then you might be the guy paying the light bills. And that changes things.
Darren Aronofsky's had an amazing career, and whether you like or dislike his work, what he was created is distinct and alive and fascinating, worth studying and revisiting. I haven't seen his new film yet, but it's the first new movie I'll see once I land in Toronto next week. His work is that significant.
It's also been resolutely uncommercial up till now. I don't really study box-office, but I assume he made some money for someone on "Pi" and "Requiem," and that he's demonstrated a sense of how to do certain things on a budget, how to stretch a dollar, and I know "The Fountain" was an expensive experiment, but I hope in the end, enough people see that movie to push it into the black for the studio. "The Wrestler" seemed to make Fox Searchlight pretty happy, happy enough to make another movie with him. And that certainly puts him inside the Fox family. But has he ever been a guy who made a "Titanic" for anyone, or even a "District 9"? Not really. He's never had his commercial break-out moment.
I spent some time on the set of "The Fountain," and I watched some of the work between Aronofsky and Hugh Jackman. It was impressive, a real collaboration, these two guys both bringing a very intense idea of what they're doing to the work. Jackman's physical transformation in the film was so striking in person that I was set aback when I first spoke to him. I really felt worried about him, concerned about what had done that to him. When I saw Jackman recently on the set of "Real Steel," I asked him how the search for "Wolverine 2" directors was going, and if he and Shawn Levy had made a love match on that film.
He laughed and said, "I asked. I'm asking all the guys I really want to work with. I want this to be great."
Jackman is one of those people who seems to take comfort in returning to work with collaborators again, and I get that. I think you want to surround yourself with people who you are already comfortable with, so that you can really focus on the work, and not on the basic back-and-forth of collaboration. You've already got that shorthand established. And with a character like Wolverine, Jackman's got a lot of history now, history that very few actors get to bring to a franchise. How many guys are going on five films as the same comic book superstar? Even Chris Reeve only ever made four "Superman" movies.
So why wouldn't Hugh Jackman ask Darren Aronofsky?
And it's no secret Aronofsky is a big comic book fan. He's been open about it since he first started doing interviews, and the influence is in his work in any number of ways. He's optioned all sorts of comic book properties, or been attached to them, including Frank Miller's "Ronin" and "Lone Wolf and Cub," and I think he will end up making a comic book movie someday.
But a sequel to someone else's movie? Even as a chance to work with Jackman, that seems like a weird move for a guy who has really been playing his own game until now.
Maybe the script is amazing. Rumor has been since day one that this will be Wolverine in Japan, something fans have always claimed they wanted to see on film. Could this work out that "Lone Wolf and Cub" itch for Aronofsky, but in a big giant mainstream movie that will buy him room (if it's a hit) to make twenty more movies like "The Fountain" or "Pi" if he wants to?
Let's see what happens with "Black Swan" in Toronto. If it's embraced, if it's a buzz movie, could that open some other door for Aronofsky that's more intriguing than a superhero sequel? Maybe. Hopefully.
If he does make a "Wolverine 2," then count me excited about "Wolverine 2." I'm sure he would rip it up. But if it's this or something else, I'm going to be more interested in the "something else" based on the track record of the "X-Men" franchise versus the track record of Aronofsky's films.
That? That makes sense.
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