When Darren Aronofsky exited Fox's The Wolverine, he left the project helpless. Gone was its Oscar nominated helmsman who surely had a unique direction to take the fan-favorite character in. The studio has been desperately trying to keep the production on schedule, but there hasn't been much news about its status since the Japanese tsunami became the latest bump in the road for the troubled film. Now, however, Variety claims to have a studio-conceived shortlist of directors that may take on the massive movie, and its filled with some familiar names and some others that are less known.
According to the source, Jose Padilha, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Justin Lin, Gavin O'Connor, James Mangold and Gary Shore are all being considered to take the reins of the film. Whether you recognize these names or not, I'm sure that you've at least seen a few of their respective movies. Doug Liman is perhaps the most accomplished of them all, having directed tent pole actioners like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Jumper and The Bourne Identity. He's incredibly high profile and has numerous projects of his own in development, so I'm not sure he'll take a year-and-a-half detour to make a sequel (especially since he never returned for follow-ups to his own films). Fuqua has a good deal of action experience as well, with credits like The Replacement Killers, Training Day, Tears of the Sun and Shooter to his name. It's been difficult for the critical hailed but largely commercially unsuccessful filmmaker to get his own movies made these days, so The Wolverine could actually be mutually beneficial as it would open some doors for the 45 year old director.
Without question, the man with the most heat right now is Justin Lin, who's having a bit of a moment. He's responsible for the last three installments of The Fast and the Furious franchise, which combined have grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. The latest, Fast Five, has been the most well received yet, and his work has gotten him deals to remake Highlander and direct a new Terminator film with Arnold Schwarzenegger attached. Of course, now that the former Governator has put all film projects on hold to deal with his personal troubles, Lin could easily segue into The Wolverine. James Mangold is a bit less-experienced in the action field, though he did make last summer's Knight and Day as well as the amazing 3:10 To Yuma remake. My guess is that the studio is more interested in his take on the character and story, as these are the areas of filmmaking he's most competent in. Gavin O'Connor would come at a bargain price, but having only directed Miracle, Pride and Glory and this fall's Warrior I'm not sure he'd be able to handle the $150 million-plus production. Still, his films are always bursting with energy and testosterone, so maybe he could do Logan justice.
The other candidates are certainly lesser known but have definitely left their mark on the industry. Mark Romanek made the wonderful One Hour Photo and last year's Never Let Me Go; both of these are great films but haven't exactly prepared the former music video director to make a sure-to-be blockbuster. Jose Padhila is a Brazilian director responsible for the foreign hit Elite Squad and its sequel. Hollywood has noticed his success and recently brought him to America for MGM's developing RoboCop reboot, though that project is still far from ready-to-go, so his schedule could permit him to make The Wolverine. Finally, Gary Shore is best known as a commercials director, but made an interesting short film featuring the clawed protagonist which you can watch below. There's a lot to choose from, so why don't you tell us who you think should make The Wolverine?