So, Darren Aronofsky is off The Wolverine to the surprise of no-one. But who should Fox go to to replace him, and keep the surreal indie cred that Aronofsky’s attachment brought to the franchise sequel?
Superhero movies are at an odd time as a genre, with audiences over the initial “Oh my God it’s superheroes on the screen and it doesn’t suck” wonder, and looking for something new. Increasingly, it seems, that “new” is coming in the form of directorial choices, and in that sense, Aronofsky’s signing on to do the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine probably shouldn’t have come as such a surprise as it did – After all, we’ve had critically-acclaimed directors in the franchise before (Hello, Bryan Singer), and more recently, someone of Kenneth Branagh’s caliber taking on Marvel’s Thor, so why not Aronofsky doing Wolverine 2?
Of course, his first interviews on the subject suggested why not: He talked about the movie not being a sequel, but a standalone movie about the same characters from the franchise without actually belonging to the franchise, for one thing. That alone should have sent shivers rushing up and down the spine of Fox execs, trying to maintain the franchise in the run-up to X-Men: First Class being released this summer, but surprisingly everyone seemed to continue to be excited about the whole idea, the whole danger of letting this Oscar-nominated filmmaker take over their superhero movie.
But now he’s gone, dropping out because he can’t be outside of America for so long, which seems… well, a little odd, considering that must have come up at some point earlier in the negotiations, with Hugh Jackman so excited to shoot in Japan and Australia since before Aronofsky came onboard. But whatever the real reason, it doesn’t change the fact that Fox needs a new Aronofsky, and soon. But who? Aronofsky is a hard act to follow. It’s not just that he has the mainstream critical acceptance, it’s that he still has an indie credibility from earlier movies like Requiem For A Dream and Pi. Who else has both of those?
The name I keep coming back to is Duncan Jones, whose Moon and upcoming Source Code has shown a similar love of movies that push the viewer to think (or, perhaps, just get their minds bent by the experience) as well as working within specific genres. He’d be a perfect choice to replace Aronofsky – maybe even a better choice than Aronofsky – if Fox wanted to continue down that particular road, but somehow, I can’t see that happening. Maybe it’s time to revisit the shortlist of directors up against Aronofsky for the gig way back when, and see who’s available… Maybe this could end up being Gary Ross’ time to shine after all. I mean, Seabiscuit is just like Wolverine, right…?
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