PASADENA, California — The life of James “Logan” Howlett, more commonly known to fans, friends and foes alike as “Wolverine,” has always been something of a mystery — especially to the man himself.
Earlier this year, after hundreds of comic books and three blockbuster “X-Men” movies, the snarling mutant with the adamantium claws and oversize heart seemed to have made his “Last Stand.” But thanks to a new script that recently arrived on the doorstep of Hugh Jackman, the saga of Wolverine is only just beginning.
“We have our final script,” Jackman grinned like a proud papa this week, announcing his satisfaction with the untitled Wolverine prequel that he’ll begin filming in late 2007.
Little is known about the Wolverine spinoff flick, which — like a similarly conceived Magneto prequel in development — will tell the early story of an “X-Men” character while continuing to employ the fan-favorite star who brought him to life. Jackman’s comments, however, would seem to suggest that controversial “Last Stand” director Brett Ratner will not be returning.
“We’re now finding a director, and probably in a year or so,” Jackman added. “I’m doing a movie next year with Baz Luhrmann, but after that we’ll get into it.”
Although Vinnie “Juggernaut” Jones has proclaimed his desire to return for the spinoff (see “900-Pound Juggernaut Weighs In On ’X-Men’ Spinoffs, Feels For Amanda Bynes” ), Jackman revealed that the film — which will expand on the origin flashbacks glimpsed in the “X-Men” flicks — will cover a time before Juggernaut became Wolverine’s nemesis. “It is a prequel, and it’s going to be about the origins of the character. That’s all that I can tell you — you don’t know how long ago that was, right? I’ve got to keep a few surprises for you guys.”
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Indeed, Logan’s back story and age have always been open for debate. Originally conceived as a mutated wolverine cub, early comic appearances by the character alluded to his less-than-human genesis. Originally designed to be a young adult like many of his mutant colleagues, Wolverine’s accepted appearance would later evolve into more of a world-weary 40-something hero. To further confuse things, an early-’90s “Weapon X” story line explained that Logan was a common man unwillingly reinforced with adamantium to become a killing machine; the 2001 series “Origin,” however, depicted the hero as a 19th century Canadian born with mutant powers.
Regardless of Wolverine’s age, however, the films have made it clear that his story is inextricably linked with that of William Stryker. “It would be great to do it,” an enthusiastic Brian Cox said recently when asked if he’d like to bring back the malevolent army colonel whose involvement with the Weapon X project resulted in Wolverine’s adamantium enhancements. “I enjoyed doing it. I particularly loved working with [director] Bryan Singer, and that was the great experience of doing ’X-Men 2.’ ”
When last we saw Stryker, an exploding dam seemed to signal the end of his story line. The Wolverine prequel, however, would most likely bring back the mutant-hating military man.
“We live in hope, and we shall see,” Cox said. “I know that David Benioff has written the script. … The only problem, the only reason I’m sort of slightly in reserve about it, is because Stryker was a lot younger. … Wolverine doesn’t age.”
Cox added that he had recently seen “Last Stand” for the first time, and that the makeovers of two good friends had given the 60-year-old actor new hope that he could play a young Stryker. “The makeup is so good. … I was amazed,” Cox said. “I watched ’X-Men 3,’ which I hadn’t seen. I watched it on the plane last night. And there’s a scene when both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen come in as their younger selves, and their makeup was astonishing, absolutely astonishing!”
With the 77-year-old McKellen planning to employ the same revolutionary CGI-and-makeup mix to play a younger Magneto in his spinoff, Cox insisted that he saw no reason why he couldn’t do the same for Stryker. “I don’t know what they did,” he marveled. “But they looked as I remembered them from all those years ago.”
For his part, Jackman said he’d love to once again go toe-to-toe with Cox. “We’d be lucky to have him,” he enthused. “The guy is absolutely brilliant. We’ll see, in the timeline of the character, how it works out.”
See everything we’ve got on “X-Men: The Last Stand.”
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