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The latest on ''X-Men Origins: Wolverine''

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On Oct. 18, Fox announced that the highly anticipated X-Men spin-off starring Hugh Jackman as feral mutant Wolverine has an official release date (May 1, 2009) and title: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Sure, we knew the film was coming, but the moniker is a letdown — it sounds more like a cartoon than the latest entry in the macho, lucrative X-Men enterprise — as is the prequel strategy. It’s a tack that ignores the lesser-known mutants who could continue building the X-Men brand.

As such, this latest film, set to be directed this January by Gavin Hood (Rendition) from a script by David Benioff (Troy), jumps to Wolverine’s past (you’ll see the supposedly ageless hero’s troubled childhood) to explain how he gained his adamantium claws — which in an early script first appear as bone — through the Weapon X program. Also revealed: how Wolverine lost his memory tussling with longtime enemy William Stryker. (Liev Schreiber is in talks for the role, which was played by Brian Cox in the second X-Men movie.) He’ll also confront Victor Creed, a popular nemesis from the comic-book series. An origin film about baddie Magneto is also in the works (no word on whether it will adopt the Origins handle), and it will follow his dogged pursuit of the mad Nazi scientist who tortured him during his adolescence.

So far, no other mutants are set for their own big-screen backstories. But ”it’s a massive universe,” teases Fox co-president of production Alex Young. ”The possibilities are endless.” As are, it seems, the opportunities for mind-boggling new titles.

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