With Darren Aronofsky quitting The Wolverine, Fox has been working its zooterkins off to find a suitable replacement. The list they've come up with, courtesy of Variety, shows a company that's interested in directors with genuine artistic vision and also rock 'em sock 'em action aficionados. Who made the short list? Let's take a look…
Antoine Fuqua – The director of one great movie (Training Day) and a bunch of merely serviceable ones (Bait, King Arthur, Shooter), Fuqua has proved he can spin gold from the right material, but also that he doesn't always pick the right material.
Doug Liman – Often considered a highly independent director who just happens to do big studio flicks, the director of The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Jumper makes strong character-driven action movies, but only after notoriously difficult productions. Watch the special features on the Jumper DVD/Blu-Ray for a surprisingly candid look at his creative process, and the toll it takes on his cast and crew.
Justin Lin – The director of Fast Five is understandably very hot right now. He knows how to shoot action and despite a lengthy segue into the Furious franchise once proved himself an excellent director of serious dramas with Better Luck Tomorrow, a movie about overachieving teenagers who turn to drug dealing. We'd have said he wouldn't have time for The Wolverine given his commitment to the new Terminator franchise, but now that Arnold's retreating from the movie business – again – he should be free to take the reins.
James Mangold – The highly versatile director of such disparate films as Heavy, 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line has a history with Hugh Jackman: they worked together on the sweet-but-forgettable romantic comedy Kate and Leopold. Mangold's proven his chops as both a director of action and drama, but his last foray into summer entertainment – last year's under-rated Knight & Day – was a box office non-starter. He might not have the juice Fox is looking for.
Gavin O'Connor – O'Connor fits Fox's theme of hiring independent directors for big budget X-Men movies… he's the man behind the acclaimed 1999 indie drama Tumbleweeds. But his career afterwards has been a little spotty, with the fine inspirational sports flick Miracle balancing out the utterly forgettable cop drama Pride & Glory. He's probably not the man for the job unless his next movie, Warrior (starring The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy) is already making the rounds at the studio, and also totally rules.
Jose Padilha – The hot new thing in Hollywood right now, Padilha is responsible for the critically-acclaimed Brazilian action movies Elite Squad and Elite Squad 2. But he's also the man directing the new remake of Robocop, a project that was also once home to Darren Aronofsky. He's a serious contender, but does he really want to make a career out of Aronofsky's table scraps?
Mark Romanek – Acclaimed music video director Mark Romanek only has a couple feature films to his credit, but they're both very well-received. One Hour Photo was one of those 'serious' Robin Williams movies, in which he played a creepy photomat employee who stalks an innocent family, and last year's Never Let Me Go was a more serious take on the plot of The Island and Parts: The Clonus Horror, in which young people dealt with the fact that they were only born to be organ donors. Romanek may be a little too hip for the room, but he's a strong choice anyway.
Gary Shore – Without a single feature film to his credit, commercials director Gary Shore has found his way onto the short list thanks to quality, stylish work for such products as Adidas and Gatorade. He's also put together a few promo trailers to try to promote himself as a features director, including a stylish take on none other than Wolverine himself (below). With this trailer and his trailer for Cup of Tears Shore proves himself an interesting stylist, but neither short displays any form of real storytelling. We're guessing he'll have to pitch himself like a mofo to get the gig.
If it were up to us we'd go with James Mangold for the win, but it's not up to us. Who would you pick from this list?
Crave Online will be back with more The Wolverine news after this whole thing gets sorted out.