Aronofsky Steps Off From ‘Wolverine’


21 March 2011| No Comments on Aronofsky Steps Off From ‘Wolverine’     by Sean Chavel


Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “The Wrestler”) could have made a rumored eight-figure salary if he had stuck with “Wolverine,” a franchise that belongs to Twentieth Century Fox. But he announced that he would be leaving the project. His official statement:

“As I talked more about the film with my collaborators at Fox, it became clear that the production of ‘The Wolverine’ would keep me out of the country for almost a year. I was not comfortable being away from my family for that length of time. I am sad that I won’t be able to see the project through, as it is a terrific script and I was very much looking forward to working with my friend Hugh Jackman again.”

In return the studio released this statement: “While we are of course disappointed that Darren can’t do ‘The Wolverine’, we also understand and respect his reasons. Having done both ‘The Wrestler’ and ‘Black Swan’ with Darren, we know he is an extraordinary talent and we look forward to working with him on other projects in the future. Hugh Jackman and Fox both remain fully committed to making ‘The Wolverine.’ We will regroup and move forward aggressively.”

The country that was to host the production was going to be Japan. That would have been, in my point of view, a very depressing experience. He made the announcement one week after the natural disaster. It’s not impossible that it could have been among the primary reasons why he walked away. The previous “Wolverine” picture was shot mostly in Canada. In addition, his custody struggle for his kids from his ex Rachel Weisz must have been germane in his decision.

It’s hard to remove tragedy from this discussion. But movies – and movie discussion – is supposed to be a pastime of escapism so let’s try to look at this in an enjoyable way. In projected artistic speculation the cinephile can’t help but wonder what kind of trademark style imprint Aronofsky would have brought to the popular franchise. Would there have been studio interference in “lightening” up a comic book hero with self-tortured characteristics? Would Aronofsky sway into more in-house studio special effects magic? For his 2006 film “The Fountain” he used non-traditional special effects that stayed away as much as possible from computers, instead using lighting techniques, paints, models and interweaved all of this in superimposed mattes.

With Aronofsky on board he could have delivered a comic book opera in the comparable ranks to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” re-vamp. I do recall that when “Wolverine” was originally announced to attach Aronofsky to the project in November 2010, I honestly was not thrilled. The subject matter in his canon was more elemental to individual self-actualization and the thin line of martyrdom that attends man’s pursuit of grand conquests. The alignment of karma and failure, as well as the ecstasy accompanied by sacrifice, is a huge tying theme in his work. I felt that spending two years on a big-budget franchise project that might (or might not) curb his directorial passions would get in the way of his personal filmmaking. I imagine that Aronofsky has astounding subjects in him that he should be concentrating on.

Like making his own “2001: A Space Odyssey” for this generation like taking characters on a trip to our universe’s black hole, or bunker life following the apocalypse of atomic bomb radiation, or my far-flung hope that he he’s looked at my delivered memo suggesting to him to adapt the Japanese novel “The Crimson Labyrinth” (pic right) or the dangerous portrayal of winter sports bobsledding, or a futuristic fantasy of a schizophrenic and self-isolating inventor of human-like fleshpot androids.

Or I hoped that MGM studios would rebound and reignite plans for Aronofsky to shoot a “Robocop” remake/reboot – a brilliant idea that would let him deal with themes of technology, merging human tissue with machine apparatus, lawlessness, and the model of corporation overpowering government order. It was also a cause for worry when there was rumored 3-D gimmickry proposed for the production but I believe the temperamental and the uncompromising Aronofsky wouldn’t have stood for it.

Yet upon hearing of him walking away from “Wolverine” I find myself filled with unforeseen regret. Aronofsky still has the agility and I’m sure he has more than a dozen films that he will make before he hangs up the towel – he’s young. Post-pone “Wolverine,” I say, and let him come back to the project when he’s good and ready. Now that’s my new dream.  

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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