With Wolverine’s origin told in the sloppy X-Men Origins: Wolverine it was time to move on to the meat of the solo adventures which saw Logan in Japan fighting the Yakuza, ninjas, and samurai.
They tasked Christopher McQuarrie in 2009 to write the film’s script, he had previously worked on the first X-Men film but took his name off the film. A clear desire on the studio’s part to right the wrongs with the previous film by making sure they secured seasoned talent to put the sequel together.
However, things didn’t go as planned.
Originally, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream) was hired by 20th Century Fox to direct the Japanese solo adventure as he had previously worked with Hugh on his passion project The Fountain. However, due to family issues he ultimately didn’t direct the film and had to bow-out.
Here is the official statement made by Darren in March 2011 when he exited from the comic book film.
ARONOFSKY: “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.”
Months after Darren’s exit the studio hired screenwriter Mark Bomback to rewrite McQuarrie’s version of the script. Christopher seemingly was too busy directing Tom Cruise in the action film Jack Reacher, which released on December 21st, 2012.
Bomback was known for Live Free or Die Hard, Unstoppable, and the Total Recall remake. Mark would go on to write Dawn of The Planet of The Apes and War For The Planet of Apes for director Matt Reeves. Scott Frank (Out of Sight, Minority Report, Get Shorty, The Lookout) joined on those rewrites and would return to write Logan.
Scott and Mark ended up getting co-screenwriting credits on the film.
Eight directors were reportedly in the running to replace Darren which included Jose Padilha (Narcos, RoboCop remake), Doug Liman (Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), Mark Romanek, Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond, Fast Five), Gavin O’Connor (Warrior), James Mangold (Cop Land), and Gary Shore (Dracula Untold).
Guillermo del Toro revealed to Collider in 2012 that he was approached to direct The Wolverine, meeting with 20th Century Fox and Hugh Jackman about the X-Men film.
DEL TORO: “I was very attracted to doing The Wolverine in Japan because that’s my favorite chapter in the story of Wolverine. But I’m not a superhero guy. It’s very hard for me to… It’s one thing to like something and another to marry it for two, three years.”
“I spoke to [Fox executive] Jim Gianopulos a while ago. I thought about it. I actually met with Hugh Jackman. But it’s one thing to say… You have to differentiate between loving it as a fan, which is almost like dating, and creating it from scratch, which takes two to three years of your life, which is like a marriage.”
In June 2012, it was announced that James Mangold (Cop Land, 3:10 to Yuma) would be taking over directing duties and put together a well-crafted sequel that surpassed the original’s quality. James had previously worked with Hugh Jackman on the time-travel romantic comedy Kate & Leopold.
Actress Jessica Biel (Total Recall, Blade Trinity) had originally been reported for the role of female villain Dr. Green aka Viper but negotiations seemingly didn’t come together. Biel would have been the second actor from Blade Trinity to join the solo Wolverine films, the first being Ryan Reynolds, who played Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
This would lead to Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) landing the part instead. Viper altered from her comic book counterpart as she isn’t a mutant and wasn’t connected to HYDRA. There were other liberties taken including making the Silver Samurai armor a giant robot.
Earlier versions of the film were said to have Indian actress Priyanka Chopra playing Elizabeth Braddock aka Psylocke in the film.
Due to the earthquakes and tsunami that Japan suffered in 2011, the main production pivoted to Australia with only a handful of scenes shot in Japan and New Zealand. Filming took place at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, Australia where Mission: Impossible III, The Matrix, the first two Star Wars prequels, and Alien: Covenant were shot.
A deleted scene introduced Wolverine’s classic comic book accurate costume but we never got to see him wear it.
The Wolverine did much better with critics and audiences, it even made more money than X-Men Origins: Wolverine with a global box office total of $414.8 million.
Director James Mangold would direct the second sequel titled Logan, which would take more of a gritty mature route with its R-rated violence and grim ending killing off the lead hero.