miniseries Wanted by Mark Millar first attracted the attention of Universal Studios executive Jeff Kirschenbaum, a comic book fan who sought a film adaptation that would be considered a "hard-R" and encouraged the studio to pick up the rights to the miniseries. By 2004, producer Marc Platt set up development of the film adaptation. In December 2005, Russian-Kazakh director Timur Bekmambetov was attached to helm the project as his first English-language film, with the script being written by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt. Millar did not like the first draft of the script. He explained, "I wanted the film to basically be the opposite of the Spider-Man movie, the idea of someone getting powers and realizing they can do what they want, then choosing the dark path. The [script] I read was just too tame. It just seemed a little bit Americanized. But Timur came in with his Eastern European madness, and he really made it nasty. He went closer to the spirit of the book."
Director Timur Bekmambetov said that the film would keep the same characters from the miniseries (which ultimately, was a lie), though the director would take liberty in adapting the comic book's world. In July 2006, screenwriter Chris Morgan was hired to revise the third act of the Wanted script written by Haas and Brandt. The script was also rewritten by screenwriter Ruby Aduana to include the role of The Fox for actress Angelina Jolie. Haas and Brandt returned to even out the character of Wesley Gibson, which they had established in their first draft.
Comic book author Mark Millar described the first half of the film as being close to the graphic novel. Millar also said that the film's ending was similar, though it was relocated elsewhere from the setting in the graphic novel. The superhero costumes in the series were also removed, with the exception of the leather attire worn by Wesley Gibson and the Fox. Ironically, this had been Millar's intent when writing the graphic novel, although he and artist J. G. Jones had forgotten to. "I wanted them to have those powers and then just wear those costumes for the initiation, but just for one panel." he said. "And then I forgot. I’d have liked [the filmmakers] to keep the supervillain mythos. That’s one thing I’m kind of sad they didn’t keep, ’cause I really liked that, the idea that supervillains and heroes did exist at one point and they’re all gone now." The story arc of the Fates issuing death orders in line with the series's original theme of predestination was a new element to the film, an addition to which Millar was amicable.
Wanted includes free running and parkour in addition to car chases and gunfights. Wanted creator Mark Millar saw previsualized footage for the film and said the footage had raised his expectations for the film adaptation.
Location plate shooting took place in Chicago in April 2007. Several chase scenes, including one with a low flying helicopter, were shot in Chicago on May 17 and 18 on Wacker Drive along the Chicago River, between Columbus Drive and LaSalle Street. Production moved to the Czech Republic later in May, scheduled for 12 weeks of shooting. For the film, production designer John Myhre constructed a large textile factory in Prague as part of an industrial world, the setting of a mythological environment in which looms create fabrics interwoven with the destinies of people, interpreted by weavers to issue orders for specific individuals' deaths to preserve the balance of the world. Afterward, filming moved to Budapest, then returned to Chicago in August.