While 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a financial success for Fox, grossing more than $373 million worldwide, it was widely panned by critics and fans alike. Even producer Lauren Schuler Donner has taken jabs at the movie, saying last year that the frequently discussed Deadpool spinoff would "pretend that X-Men Origins: Wolverine didn’t happen, or mock it."
So it come as little shock that everyone, from studio executives to star Hugh Jackman, would rather pretend the hirsute mutant's nominal solo debut -- it had a mutant lineup to rival that of any X-Men installment -- never happened (sorry, Gavin Hood). To that end, The Wolverine won't have any direct links to its predecessor, and it certainly isn't being referred to as a sequel.
"We've deliberately not called it Wolverine 2 because we want it to be placed and feel like a standalone picture," Jackman tells Total Film (via Coventry Telegraph). "With an all-new cast and setting it in Japan, it's going to give us a whole new visual aesthetic."
Seemingly acknowledging that the first film was bogged down by a sprawling cast, he adds, "The approach to character means we won't be overloaded with mutants and teams and the like, so it'll be more character-based. I think in many ways it will feel like a completely different X-Men film."
Directed by James Mangold, The Wolverine is based in part on the 1982 miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller and finds Logan battling ninjas and the politics of the Tokyo criminal underworld for the heart of his ex-lover, the daughter of a Japanese crime lord.
The cast includes Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima and Brian Tee. The Wolverine opens July 26, 2013.