December 16, 2014

My Two-Cents On What Fox Needs To Include In THE WOLVERINE Sequel

Originally, there had been chatter from Hugh Jackman that he was looking forward to retiring the character after Days of Future Past. Then The Wolverine was a huge success when compared to the other X-Men releases that time. He also got a chance to see Days of Future Past, which become the biggest box office earner in the franchise. His attitude started changing and we've been hearing him become a bit more open to idea of holding-on the the role. Signing-on for two more installments with X-Men Apocalypse in May 2016 and The Wolverine 2 in March 2017.

He's still giving the impression his participation will be due to what is offered to him, and will have to blow him away for him to agree to it. An excellent creative and contract positioning tactic from Jackman. Production won't likely start for a while and the creatives are still mapping-out the script. It's in a unique position where they might be still willing to take suggestions, well I have a couple and will run them down below.

Fox recently hired screenwriter David James Kelly to help with the script which was being outlined by The Wolverine director James Mangold (3:10 To Yuma, Cop Land), who is set to return. Kelly isn't a stranger to writing Marvel characters, as he was tasked to rewrite the Daredevil reboot for Fox when David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night) was still attached as director.

I've tried hard via Twitter to get some details out of James Mangold, but he has been patiently calm and coy when talking about the film. Granted, my exchanges were during the early development of his outline. I'm unsure where he's at with his current collaboration with Kelly. James has actually asked for input and character suggestions, which sort of led me to doing this write-up.

As much as I'd love to see more of the Japanese underworld and the return of Lady Deathstrike, it's possible that might not be the focus of this sequel. Since making the film too close to the last one might not be the wisest move.

Hugh has commented on the fact The Wolverine was a desirable prospect because it was a standalone installment. Only having a few connections to the other X-Men films, feeling like a true solo adventure. It's possible that they reuse that excellent concept for the sequel as well. While most are expecting more of a crossover or bringing-in other main X-Men characters, it's unlikely.

Many cinematic story angles tweaked for the film could see many of the comics influence the film's story. The most suggested story is Mark Millar's Old Man Logan. Something that Jackman himself has said he would be interested in exploring. The biggest problem of making this into a film is that it would almost be impossible to make due to Fox's limited Marvel rights. The comic includes characters like Hawkeye, Red Skull, Hulks, Punisher, Daredevil and many other characters they don't have access to in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland.

It's dark and brutal hard-R content (incest, cannibalism, genocide) is a serious issue since the franchise is mainly PG-13. We know that Marvel and Fox butted-heads over the studio's desire to make Deadpool an R-rated film. Seemingly Fox has agreed to a PG-13 version, which could released as such but given a R-rated cut for DVD/BluRay. Something they did for The Wolverine as the much of the violence was scaled-down for the theatrical release. Although, the comics and video games might conflict with their cinematic mantra. With that in mind, I still don't see Fox or Marvel allowing this dark of a story for a Wolverine sequel.

The biggest issue being a scene where it was revealed Logan was tricked into killing all the X-Men. Something I highly doubt they would want to explore, unless this happens as a Four Horsmen in X-Men Apocalypse. Again, highly doubtful Fox would want to paint Logan in that sort of light.

Basically, why adapt the comic or use it's title if it will be completely unrecognizable from the comic?

I think some of the barebones aspects from the comic could be used. Taking the fact Logan is now extremely old and set in a rugged future without a majority of this mutant cohorts. I think seeing what's it like when that immortally starts to slip away is interesting. A cool part of The Wolverine was when his healing factor was suppressed for a time. Having the setting way in the future could be one of the best elements and actually useable elements from these comics. Also, making it a great candidate for a storyline that is standalone and could be removed from both X-Men timelines. Everything else from the comic? Not so much.

I know everyone freaked-out when a deleted scene from the film revealed his classic yellow costume was a possibility. Wouldn't it be awesome to see Old Man Logan dust off this costume given to him in last solo film and finally give fans the berserker in the yellow costume? I think everyone would rally around seeing Hugh Jackman fighting Omega Red's ass in this awesome version of the classic costume. Seriously, we're in the age of The Avengers/Guardians of The Galaxy and audiences are ready to embrace the "wacky" X-Men costume designs.

Thanks to Days of Future Past the entire timeline of Wolverine has been altered. The events of X-Men trilogy, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Wolverine have seemingly been erased (or some aspects of them). Certain things still could have happened, but things like the Weapon X program will have been completely altered. We know that Apocalypse will be set a decade later. This means that Logan will have the chance to have that era of his life rebooted via Singer or Mangold. We know both directors have expressed interest in recreating that aspect of his origin. I'm sure fans would love to see that re-imagined in a new film.

There are so many different versions and avenues for Logan's time in Weapon X. This altered timeline could see his mutant cohorts in that covert team shaken-up slightly. Fox and producers have already stated that Origins isn't canonical to these new X-Men films.

It's not even known if William Styker will even head it up this time around, but since they've established him it's likely he'll be around at some point. Other members in different versions of the covert group include Sabertooth, Deadpool, Lady Deathstrike and Omega Red. The latter I've been suggesting as the main villain of this new film, since a Cold-War era setting could be perfect. Having so many connections with Logan beyond his life with the X-Men, and is a fan-favorite threat similar to Silver Samurai.

Having his Cold-War black ops past coming back to haunt him via the return of Omega Red could be something exploring. He's one of the most viable and dangerous Wolverine villains and we've all been patiently waiting for his screen debut. If Omega can kick the living shit out of Logan in his prime, imagine the kind of threat he could be in his old age. I'd also love to see Wolverine running around Europe and Russia, possibly re-treading other moments from his WWII and black ops past.

I was also under the impression that The Wolverine was hinting to Omega Red with Viper's mutant suppression robots. Their tentacles and ability to drain Logan's powers, seems very similar to Omega's cyborg modifications and turned him into a robotic vampire. Sucking the life force from mutants and humans alike to keep him powerful.

Doubtful this sort of technology was used during Logan's Weapon X days, but testing on a serial killer like Arkady Rossovich who has been imprisoned by Russian government for decades makes some sense. Creating their own super-soldier or weapon x, which might have backfired and kept him in some cryogenics bunker for decades. The similarities between Omega Red and Winter Soldier are there, but let's face it Red was there first in the comics. Differences being that Rossovich was never a good person and is clearly a murdering maniac that enjoys doing it.

 He's been used as a hitman for gangsters before, it's possible he could be sent to kill Wolverine by whoever people in-control of Omega wants him dead. Learning that he and his new target had come to blows in the past could setup flashback scenes to Logan's time in Weapon X. Depending on the angle they want to follow he could be a hired thug that becomes too overpowered to control and threatens everyone in his path. The deranged villain wanting to destroy all the existing enemies of the Soviet era, starting with Logan.

I'm aiming high with this casting choice, but I'd love to see someone like Daniel Craig in the role. Of course Craig is off with the Bond franchise via Spectre. However, his projects between Bond films aren't always the best. I'm sure he could be willing to take a iconic villain role like this, if convinced by Hugh Jackman and James Mangold. You might remember that Daniel and Hugh are friends, thanks in-part to doing a play together. Jackman stepped aside during Bond talks, allowing the lesser known Daniel Craig to take the role. I'm sure Jackman would be able to talk him into doing it.

Plus, I'm unsure how many villain roles he's being offered these days. A shame considering he made an excellent villain in the comic book adaptation of Road To Perdition. I'd also like to point out his underrated Russian-set WWII action drama Defiance where he did a decent job speaking Russian and kicking ass, alongside Liev "Sabertooth" Schreiber (someone we hope also reprises his Origins role) and Fox's new Thing from Fantastic Four played Jamie Bell.

To make this more of standalone film, we would likely need to explore X-Men characters that haven't been given a fair on screen representation. However, they would need to still have that connection to Wolverine.

A cool storyline from the Chris Claremont comics includes a villainous version of Psylocke (Lady Mandarin) sent to assassinate Wolverine. I've been vocal that the series could use more strong female characters and Elizabeth Braddock is complex enough to consider. A former spy, that becomes a badass ninja telepath, member of the X-Men and eventual leader of the contemporary X-Force team. If we don't end-up seeing them rehashing a cool Wolverine centric character like Lady Deathstrike, Braddock would make an excellent female lead.

In the comics Viper worked for the criminal organization The Hand. I assume the group is now back with Marvel via Daredevil rights. However, the group also had Psylocke and Omega Red among their ranks. A different name for the group could be created, maybe run by Russian underworld or corrupt officials. This does seemingly connect both Psylocke and Omega Red to a villain from the previous film, this wouldn't be something fans would consider reaching.

It was rumored Indian singer-actress Priyanka Chopra (Don) was being eyed for the role of a rebooted version of Elizabeth Braddock aka Psylocke in The Wolverine. However, the actress and character seemingly didn't make the final film. There is some hope that the character could appear in Apocalypse, but more likely will be recast for Jeff Wadlow's X-Force. The writer-director talked lineup with ScreenRant and seeming gives the impression she's a candidate. The Psylocke/Wolverine connection could be explored in other future films.

“What X-Force is – the way I talk about X-Force is… X-Men is about mutants, and not all the mutants get into the mansion. So I’m curious to tell a story about the mutants who don’t make it into the mansion… I’m a huge Deadpool fan, who doesn’t love Wolverine – but obviously Cable is an iconic character we haven’t seen onscreen yet. I love Psylocke, Domino is an amazing character – it’s a long list of characters that have appeared in X-Force – Colossus is in the current lineup… There’s a lot of really exciting characters that you can use in X-Force that have been in other movies, that haven’t shown up, or maybe there’s ways to re-imagine them, even though they might’ve shown up in other films.”

I'm not saying casting Chopra should or will happen, but the two female leads in The Wolverine were unknowns to U.S. audiences. Both of them have since landed high-profile DC Comics roles in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Arrow, hiring diverse unknowns paid-off before and it could again.

Domino is another potential female lead that has connections to Wolverine and could be a great character in a post-X-Men story. It's possible she'll also be apart of Deadpool and X-Force films, which might diminish that standalone aspect. Deadpool is about to begin production soon, so we'll know for sure if Fox will add either Psylocke or Domino to that lineup. Since it's unlikely they'll use Copycat as the female lead after those extensive script rewrites.

Fox could also decide to introduce one or both in The Wolverine 2 instead. Holding-off their on screen debuts until then, setting-up the rest of the lineup for X-Force. As there have been rumblings Cable and a version of Archangel might be apart of the cast of X-Men Apocalypse. Slowly introducing the lineup might be a smart idea on the part of Fox and producers, inside of throwing all their origins/character intros into one film spreading it across a couple of them.

Another cool aspect is that both Domino and Psylocke allow a diverse casting search. Considering we've seen Psylocke in the comics portrayed as both an Asian and British woman, and now Indian with these casting rumors. Domino is a blank-slate when it comes to casting since any actress could have makeup applied to play her.

My hope is that The Wolverine 2 could be a precursor to the X-Force film, since we know that future Logan has memories of his original timeline. He could use the knowledge of his soldier status to form the covert team of mutants deemed too unstable for the mansion. Creating a group that could deal with mutant threats that needed deadly force. I just don't see it as only being this giant-setup for X-Force though, as it would mess with the standalone idea. We've seen comic book movies like Iron Man 2 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 fail when only existing to setting-up other films. They lose all purpose, conflict and motivation beyond setups.

I could see them just plant seeds for character setups, that really haven't been given the time of day in previous films that just happen to have connections to Wolverine. This could be the reason why The Wolverine sequel and Deadpool was greenlit before Jeff Wadlow's X-Force. Fox was likely unsure about moving forward with a new X-Men universe team lineup without audiences being aware of them. This could be fixed with the next three movies, which do allow themselves to use those mutants.

How awesome would it be to see an X-Force film set in that X-Men future having Cable/Psylocke leading the team, with dangerous/unbalanced mutant characters among the ranks? Having Old Man Logan originally forming it and possibly showing-up in a couple of scenes as their version of Nick Fury. It's a direction to consider and a reason to keep Jackman around the franchise for a couple more films. Beyond that possible X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover which Fox is apparently cooking-up, but we have no idea if Hugh Jackman will be apart of that.

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