Friday, August 3, 2007

Dig your claws into "Wolverine: The Movie"

After X2, there were rumblings of there possibly being a spin-off Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman. Well, we can wonder no more, because it has been confirmed: Marvel's most popular character (arguably, though Spidey would give Wolvie a run for his money nowadays) is comign to the big screen near you soon!

From Wizard Universe:

Wizard serves up the full scoop as Hugh Jackman slices and dices his way back to the big screen as Wolverine

By Rickey Purdin

Posted August 2, 2007 9:20 AM

He’s the best there is at what he does, and what he does is star in movies so cool our goose bumps have heart attacks. He’s Wolverine, and in case you didn’t know, he’s clawing his way back to drench the silver screen in bad guy blood.

Following the over $1 billion, worldwide box-office bonanza of three X-Men flicks (“X-Men,” “X2: X-Men United” and “X-Men: The Last Stand”) over the last seven years, actor Hugh Jackman is officially on board for a solo “Wolverine” spinoff film. What’s not so official is basically every other detail associated with the movie. So sit back and spark up a stogie, Canuckleheads—we’re tackling the big questions surrounding the next Marvel mutant mega-hit.

You may have heard of him. He’s David Benioff, a writer who broke into Hollywood after adapting his own novel, The 25th Hour, into a movie script eventually directed by Spike Lee in 2002. And for those worried about Benioff’s juice, Jackman promises the writer’s got the snikt-y goods.

“He’s probably the hottest writer going around town,” gushed Jackman to sources. “He was beating down our door to write this movie because he’s the most passionate Wolverine
fan. He’s followed all of the books since he was 9 years old. For us, it’s one of those rare combinations where you have a writer who has all these Oscar-winning directors wanting to work with him and he’s like, ‘I want to do Wolverine!’”

According to Benioff, that’s no exaggeration. “I’ve been reading Wolverine comics for 23 years,” admitted the writer. And while he couldn’t discuss specific elements of his script, Benioff did hint at his favorite Wolvie stories. “I went back and reread the Chris Claremont and Frank Miller miniseries, and the Barry Windsor-Smith Weapon X.”

As for his non-mutant work, Benioff also wrote director Wolfgang Peterson’s “Troy” starring Eric Bana and Brad Pitt as well as the 2005 thriller “Stay” and 2007’s Afghanistan drama “The Kite Runner.”

Based on info from insiders who say they’ve read Benioff’s script, get ready for all kinds of prequel action as Wolverine’s first ties to Weapon X, his first run-in with Victor Creed (aka Sabretooth), his bonding with adamantium and his feral origins are explored. When asked if the film would touch on Wolvie’s early-year comic book connections to Japan, Jackman curbed the rumor in favor of others.

“[The Japan connection] is still something we really want to do,” admitted the actor-producer. “What we need to do is establish who he is and find out how he became Wolverine. And by the end of the movie, I want it to be that you definitely knew who this guy was, like Mad Max and Dirty Harry. He’s a good guy, but he’s not a nice guy. He’s just the guy you want on your side.”
Sources also mentioned scenes featuring Wolverine in Vietnam, a pre-X-Men love interest for the furry mutant and character names familiar to comic fans such as the teleporter John Wraith, who served with Wolverine on special ops missions as part of Team X, along with Fred J. Dukes (aka the Blob).

Apparently, the lone X-Man becomes a little more of a loner in this film as no other students or faculty from the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters are set to appear.

Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) said he doesn’t think he’ll appear in the film since it’s set in the past, while Anna Paquin (Rogue) admitted she’d like to come back if they approached her but that no one had as of press time. Rebecca Romijn, who portrayed the villainous shape-shifter Mystique in previous X-films, continued the pattern by saying she’s not attached at all. Halle Berry, who won an Oscar for “Monster’s Ball” between “X-Men” sequels, also confirmed her absence.

“I think you get to the point where it’s time to move on and I’m really interested in playing other kinds of characters,” revealed the actress.

When asked about cameos of existing Marvel characters, Jackman responded, “It’s a prequel, so there won’t be many. There will be other new characters.”

Yes, and an Academy Award winner to boot. Recently tapped helmer Gavin Hood's 2005 film "Tsotsi" won the Oscar for Best Foreign-Language Film on the strength of Hood's screenplay and direction. Next up from the acclaimed director is the upcoming politically charged thriller "Rendition," starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal. Clearly, the "Wolverine" team has selected a director with chops as sharp as Logan's claws.

Early rumors attached Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai”) as longtime Wolvie villain Silver Samurai, although he publicly denied them. Brian Cox, though, confirmed his character, William Stryker from “X2: X-Men United,” will return to unload untold amounts of crap on Wolvie’s life.

“I know my character is in it,” revealed the actor. “They’ve asked me to be in it but that was a while ago now.” There’s still no confirmation on whether or not he’s signed on. Considering the movie is set in the past, digital effects and/or “Mrs. Doubtfire”-amounts of makeup would be needed to de-age the 61-year-old actor like producers did with Professor X and Magneto in “X-Men: The Last Stand.”

As for other mutant bad guys, Vinnie Jones, who played Juggernaut in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” and Tyler Mane, who appeared as Sabretooth in “X-Men,” both reportedly claimed to be in talks for the film. Specifically, Mane says he’s discussed starring as Victor Creed, the man who one day becomes Sabretooth. If anything, that rumor fits in tightly with the online prequel gossip. Our bets are on Stryker and Creed.

According to Cox, “it’s set 17 years ago.” Whether that means 17 years before the events of “X-Men”—which would place it somewhere around the late ’80s—or 17 years before 2007—which would place it around 1990 when, in real life, Jackman was attending the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts following his graduation from college. We were busy throwing rocks at buses.

Tom Rothman, the Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment, the parent company of 20th Century Fox, pegged the release date as somewhere in 2008. No word yet on a specific month although the past X-Men films were all released within the May-June-July triangle for full summer blockbuster capabilities.

According to Jackman and producer Lauren Shuler Donner, filming is set to start in fall of 2007 or soon after a director announcement. Considering early script reports mention the wilderness as a large part of the first act of the film, the wilds of Canada, where past “X-Men” films were shot, seems like a natural choice. And if the Weapon X compound appears again, as rumors say it will, then expect the Alkali Lake set used in “X2: X-Men United” to return. Scenes for the lake were filmed near Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lake near Calgary. But we’re betting your Wolverine T-shirt and wild berry Slurpee won’t get you on set.

It appears 20th Century Fox doesn’t see much difference between “Wolverine” and the rest of the X-Men franchise when it comes to sequels.

“The next film in the X-Men series will be ‘Wolverine,’” said Rothman in an interview. “We fully intend to continue to make more ‘X-Men’ films with both old and new muties, so fans can rest assured they will have many opportunities in the coming years to see their favorite characters on the big screen.”

Ashmore sings a different song. “There are rumors about an ‘X-Men 4,’ but as far as I’ve been told, ‘X3’ was going to be the last big ensemble ‘X-Men’ movie. I would love if they made another one, but I’m not sure they will.”

According to screenwriter Zak Penn (“X2: X-Men United”), he’s been approached to write and direct a teenaged X-Men film which, if it were to happen, would go into production in two or three years.

“The original idea was to have me do a young X-Men spin-off,” Penn told sources. “But someone came up with a pretty interesting idea which I can’t discuss. I was pretty taken by it, as was the studio. He came up with how to do a young X-Men movie, which is not what you’d expect. Put it this way: If you agree to do one of the X-Men movies, it could end up happening four or five years down the line, which is fine with me. It’s just not my focus right now.”

Whatever happens, it looks like “Wolverine” will be cutting it up as the next onscreen X-installment for now—but who’s complaining?

I'm not complaining for sure. Heck, I can't WAIT to see a young Wolvie meeting Sabretooth for the first time and slicing and dicing away.

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