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Requiem for a Mutant: What If Darren Aronofsky Directed Wolverine?

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Before I get into the thick of it, say it with me: these are only rumors.

As a comic book fan, movie enthusiast and general Internet dweeb, it’s essentially my duty to spur rumors forth until they are so appealing that should they prove to be untrue, fanboys across the world sigh in disappointment. That said, last week there were some rather interesting directorial choices rumored for the next Wolverine movie. Why there needs to be another Wolverine movie is besides the point.

Among the rumored names was Darren Aronofsky, acclaimed indie director (and current obstacle between myself and my wife-to-be, Rachel Weisz) of Pi, The Wrestler, The Fountain, the upcoming Black Swan and the criminally overrated Requiem for a Dream. I’ll state right now that the only way under Earth’s yellow sun I’d go to see a sequel to one of the worst comic book movies of all time is if Aronofsky was directing it. Even if it turned out to be equally poor in quality, at least we can be guaranteed something far from run-of-the-mill.

Darren Aronofsky

At its core, an Aronofsky/Wolverine team-up is comparable to the Nolan/Batman relationship. Interesting to note is that Aronofsky was long rumored to be tackling an adaptation of Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One back in the day before Batman Begins was even a germ of an idea. Aronofsky, in all of his films, hones in on the emotional center. No matter what subject matter his films tackle, from drug use to professional wrestling to time travel, the center of the film is basic human emotion. It is in this way that his films are complex. Forget the film school pretension of Requiem’s editing and cinematography. Aronofsky’s talent is in bringing out performances.

If you compare Requiem and The Wrestler, Aronofsky gets just as good, if not better, performances from his cast in The Wrestler with nearly 100% less flash and fancy. Nolan, on the other hand, is more plot-centric. In general, Nolan’s films feel emotionally cold and sometimes vacant. That’s not to say that the performances are poor, quite the contrary. It’s just that Nolan is more concerned with the telling of the story and conveying his themes than he is with the characters themselves. In many ways, characters are just a means to telling a tale.

My point is this: both of these directors seem odd choices for films of major blockbuster status. Yet, Nolan is responsible for the highest grossing comic book film of all time, and one that features one of the most emotionally resonant characters in comic books. And now, we’ve got Aronofsky reportedly linked to a character that has -- in my mind -- less to do with emotional depth than he does being a badass 7/8 of the time. So why did it work out so well for The Dark Knight, and how could Aronofsky’s Wolverine possibly hold a candle to it?

The answer is simple: source material. The screenwriters drew from the best possible comics material for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight while being unafraid to throw in a good amount of themselves, leaving the door open for Nolan to do his thing and blow our minds with a complex layer of plot and character relationships. Aronofsky as a directorial choice is spot on, if the studio makes an informed decision on the writers they hire and the source they mine.

Wolverine: Logan

For Aronofsky, there is really only one reasonable option. Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso’s Logan, a Marvel Knights 3-issue series from back in 2008, is a glaringly perfect book to use as the basis for a Wolverine film under the helm of Darren Aronofsky. The comic has somewhat of a parallel narrative; Logan captured as a POW during WWII and falling in love with a Japanese woman in Hiroshima, and one in present day Hiroshima in which Logan is facing down an old foe. If the concept sounds somewhat familiar, that’s not a surprise. It’s essentially Aronofsky’s own The Fountain with adamantium claws.

I’m not suggesting that he uses the skin of The Fountain and plugs in Wolverine to appropriate scenes. But using the same approach as The Fountain -- a grand science fiction scheme to explore the deeper emotion of the Wolverine character -- is the revitalization that the character is begging for. I know what most of you are thinking. He’s Wolverine. You want to see him tear stuff up. And you’re right, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be doing so. But guess what? That’s exactly what you got in X3 and Wolverine, all action, no substance, and where did that get you?

Hugh Jackman

Now that the rumor mill has brewed up this nugget of info, my mind is set on Aronofsky as director and anything else will be a disappointment. If Fox expects a Wolverine sequel to get the franchise’s name out of the mud, then going in an unexpected, artsy direction is the only way to do it. While it may not be true, I’ll take the far fetched connections -- Aronofsky’s previous attachment to Batman: Year One and the fact that he worked with Hugh Jackman in The Fountain -- as reason to keep the faith a little bit longer.

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