While Darren Aronofsky bowed out of directing 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine several months ago, the studio has yet to find a replacement. Today, Variety brought us the most recent shortlist of helmers being considered for the gig — with Aronofsky’s heavily rumored replacement (Moon and Source Code‘s Duncan Jones) nowhere to be found. Another name that was thrown around when the last shortlist surfaced was David Slade (Twilight: Eclipse, 30 Days of Night), who now appears to be off the board as well.
As for the new batch of nominees, the names include Jose Padilha, Doug Liman, Antoine Fuqua, Mark Romanek, Justin Lin, Gavin O’Connor, James Mangold and Gary Shore.
It’s a vast group of eight filmmakers with diverse pedigrees. Many of the contenders, such as Liman (The Bourne Identity), Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter), Mangold (3:10 to Yuma), Lin (Fast Five), O’ Connor (Pride and Glory, the upcoming Warrior) have experience with big action movies.
Romanek (One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go) comes from more of an indie background and Padilha’s Elite Squad Brazilian crime movies have generated some buzz from underground film circles, though he is currently attached to direct MGM’s Robocop remake. Shore is a newcomer who has dabbled mostly in commercial work.
Reading the plot synopsis makes me believe the Japan-set film will be more relationship and character-driven than its predecessor, with an inner conflict taking the place of multiple mutant adversaries. Mangold and Fuqua seem like the least risky options given these circumstances as they have proven to be equally sure-handed with both action-heavy fare and serious drama.
Lin, on the other hand, is coming off a huge hit with Fast Five and could use a new project with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s personal issues putting the skids on the Terminator movie he was set to direct. Liman is an interesting name, but the last time he directed a superhero movie the result was Jumper. Ouch. Perhaps a fresh voice like Romanek or Padilha could inject some originality into a genre that has become rather tiresome and stale in recent years.
When it comes to Gary Shore, well, he did make this fake Wolverine trailer:
But I must admit, this list of names does confuse me a bit. It just that seemed Fox had a very specific vision for where they wanted to take the franchise with Aronofsky at the helm, yet this group of directors couldn’t be more across the board. Let’s face it, Justin Lin is about as far away from Aronofsky as a filmmaker can get. Perhaps the entire project shifted focus when Aronofsky left? Or, perhaps that’s why he left and now Fox is realizing there really is no one else like him. Maybe I should get over it as well and stop comparing him to the other filmmakers? I suppose.
So now that I’m done racking my brain on the matter, please feel free to offer your take on who should take the director’s chair for Wolverine’s next outing in the comments as well as by voting in the poll below.