Moving on from the main X-Men films we’ll now focus on the first solo film.
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (2009)
David Benioff (Game of Thrones) originally wrote a draft in 2004 and attempted to adapt the Barry-Windsor Smith Weapon X story along with other elements of various comics, geared towards an R-rating. This isn’t entirely shocking considering that Wolverine’s past includes some brutal violence during that part of his character’s history.
However, during the development process, the film was ultimately transformed into a more PG-13 project, likely for box office reasons and during the work done by Skip Woods. Skip had previously written Jackman’s action film Swordfish.
Underworld director Len Wiseman admitted back in 2007 he had been approached by the studio about making Wolverine before he tackled Live Free or Die Hard.
WISEMAN: “Wolverine is something I was interested in way before I was talking to these guys about Die Hard.”
“I think it would be a great story to tell, and in the case of that film, it wouldn’t be [as big] in terms of large-scale action, but it’s something I’m interested in, in his origin story and the character story with that, and I know how Hugh would play it, and that would be awesome. So that would be my passion for that is that I think the character story is really cool, and I’d love to see it and be there the first day [it opens] anyway. There are so many things that have been going on and I know that there are so many other directors. There’s nothing set in any fashion, but it has been talked about.”
Zack Snyder was also approached to direct and mentioned reading a PG-13 script back during an interview in 2007 as his hesitation was not being able to make an R-rated version that he wanted, the project had originally been more mature before rewrites to make the project less mature. Snyder would instead make his Watchmen movie and move on to the DC Comics universe.
French horror director Alexandre Aja (Crawl, High Tension) showed some interest in directing the film as well back in 2006 while he was promoting his remake of The Hills Have Eyes.
South African director Gavin Hood ended up landing the gig.
Some interesting names auditioned for the film that didn’t land roles which is a little crazy in hindsight.
Thor and Avengers actor Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek) admitted to Variety last year that he had auditioned for the roles of Remy LeBeau aka Gambit and Duke in G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, if he had been cast as either he wouldn’t have played the God of Thunder.
HEMSWORTH: “I got very close to Gambit in the Wolverine X-Men movies. At the time I was upset. I was running out of money. But if I played either of those characters, I wouldn’t have been able to play Thor.”
Gerard Butler (300) and Chris’ Star Trek co-star Karl Urban (Lord of The Rings, Dredd) were rumored to have been in the mix for the Victor Creed role. Hemsworth and Urban would eventually reunite on Thor: Rarganrok with the Kiwi actor playing Skurge the Executioner.
Black Widow co-star and Hellboy actor David Harbour (Stranger Things) almost played the Blob but mentioned to The Wrap in 2017 he was rejected during the audition process as being too “fat”.
Mission: Impossible III actresses Michelle Monaghan and Maggie Q had been reportedly in the running for the role of the film’s female lead Silver Fox before Lynn Collins was hired.
Ryan Reynolds would play Wade Wilson aka Deadpool in the film with the promise they’d make his solo film, but the studio would make a mess of his feature film debut and revealed the frustrating experience with EW back in 2016.
REYNOLDS: “It was a very frustrating experience.I was already attached to the Deadpool movie. We hadn’t at that point written a script yet. [Origins] came along and it was sort of like, ‘Play Deadpool in this movie or we’ll get someone else to.’ And I just said, ‘I’ll do it, but it’s the wrong version. Deadpool isn’t correct in it.’”
“So we were in the middle of production, there were no writers, no anything. Every line I have in the movie I just wrote myself because in the script we had, it said, ‘Wade Wilson shows up, talks really fast.’ I was like, ‘What?! What am I supposed to do with that?’”
Ryan and Hugh have stayed close friends for years with Ryan hellbent on trying to get Jackman out of retirement for a Deadpool vs Wolverine film.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine was plagued by bad-luck as studio head Tom Rothman double-guessed everything director Gavin Hood was doing with the film and to the point, he would change the sets/lighting on him. Making it a hostile work environment and you can see studio interference throughout the film to soften every scene.
The film’s quality was certainly lacking and the unfinished/rushed visual effects didn’t help either. A workprint of the film leaked with uncompleted effects and was downloaded like crazy despite the film being unfinished.
Origins ended up earning an impressive $373 million at the global box office despite the workprint leak. The studio would make two more solo films.
Check out the first part that focuses on the original X-Men and casting of Hugh Jackman.