Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Aronofsky's Clawful Problem

This is either really promising or really depressing.

After X-Men Origins: Wolverine took in nearly $400 million worldwide against a $150 production budget, further entries in the (now decade-old!) series were pretty much a foregone conclusion, critical consensus be damned.  While we already know that Matthew Vaughn and Bryan Singer have recently returned to the X-fold with the currently-lensing prequel X-Men: First Class, Deadline broke the news yesterday that director Darren Aronofsky, who's mostly made his bones on the art-film circuit with Pi and Requiem for a Dream, and who directed Mickey Rourke to an Oscar nom in The Wrestler, is in early talks to helm the second installment in Hugh Jackman's solo superhero franchise.

Jackman, you may recall, worked with Aronofsky on his mostly-unseen, highly-underrated The Fountain a few years back, so I'd expect this is an instance of the Wolverine producer-star calling in a favor, which, under any other circumstances would be good news.  Aronofsky is a unique director with a specific vision who could potentially do here what Chris Nolan has been able to do with Batman (a franchise which, coincidentally, Aronofsky was at one point attached to reboot in the interregnum between Batman & Robin in '97 and Batman Begins in '05).  But this is the X-Men, and last time I checked they were still housed at Fox, the meat-grinder where once-great franchises go to die.

Let's not forget that Origins director Gavin Hood also arrived with an armload of critical hossanahs, but that wasn't enough to overcome the dreaded Rothman effect.  Maybe it's because I'm still mourning Aronofosky's long-gestating RoboCop reboot at MGM, but I have to wonder why he'd jump into the sixth installment of a series where his creative vision would likely be subservient to the studio's interests. The last two cinematic X-Men at-bats were like your house burning down followed immediately by a hobo taking a dump on the ashes, and an Aronofosky Wolverine, with all the promise that implies, seems akin to plopping a potted plant on the rubble and saying everything is good as new.  Lots of upside for Fox, not as much for Aronofosky.  

But hey, I'm ready to be proven wrong about this franchise's future prospects, and maybe after First Class next summer I will be.  Let's see what happens.

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