The Real Reason Darren Aronofsky Isn't Directing Wolverine 2

Before the first trailers debuted and turned the buzz around, most of the talk surrounding the other X-Men project at Fox, First Class, revolved around the way Matthew Vaughn was being forced to rush the production under extremely difficult circumstances by Fox. There were rumors of problems on the first X-Men Origins: Wolverine too, and there’s the way X-Men 3 turned out to consider too. Bottom line here is that Fox hasn’t had the best track record where the X-Men movies are concerned. They’ve been plagued by rumors of studio interference and unhappy directors all along, which is perhaps why everyone was so excited to hear Darren Aronofsky would be involved in Wolverine 2.

Aronofsky is a big deal and not the kind of director to take on a movie like that without making sure he had total control over what was going on. Today though, we learned that Aronofsky is off Wolverine, and I don’t think anyone is buying the “he didn’t want to travel” excuse put forward as the reason for his departure. Here’s a far more plausible explanation.

This morning we heard from one of our long-time scoopers (the same person who broke the news that Favreau was on the outs with Marvel months before he announced he would no longer be involved in directing Marvel films) with the inside track on what may have really happened between Aronofsky and Fox. Here’s the short version: He wanted control and they wouldn’t give it to him.

It’s no secret that Aronofsky has been interested in making a comic book movie for years. Before Christopher Nolan got involved and did Batman Begins, he’d even been working on his own Batman vision. He’s also friends with Jackman, who seemed to know that the first Wolverine wasn’t very good, and approached him about taking over the franchise. That explains how Aronofsky got involved, but he’s still Aronofsky, and his style requires total control over whatever he’s working in. Movies like Black Swan don’t happen in an environment of studio interference and Darren no doubt knew of all the problems the previous X-Men movies have had. So he attached himself to the project, but didn’t sign on the dotted line until Fox agreed to give him the control he wanted.

We’re told that after his last movie earned a Best Picture nomination and won Natalie Portman an Oscar, he made his demand for the total control over the film that he’d wanted all along, the kind of control Christopher Nolan now has over the Batman franchise at Warner Bros. They tried to give him more money but that wasn’t what Aronofsky wanted. In response to his demand for total control, our source says, “the producers pretty much told him to walk.” So this morning, he did.

No surprises there, Fox isn’t known for handing over complete creative control to anyone outside of James Cameron and it’s not like Aronofsky, for all his critical success, is exactly known for turning in massively profitable, effects-heavy blockbusters. Still, much as this all makes a lot more sense than Aronofsky’s I don’t like to travel excuse, and even though this comes from our most reliable and proven source, consider it all rumor and speculation, in the absence of secondary confirmation.

If this is true, where does that leave Wolverine 2? Still searching for another director, probably one who’s willing to let the studio have more influence. That’s pretty much what happened with the first Wolverine film, and we all know how that turned out.

Josh Tyler