After a period where it looked as if Fox would take a mulligan on “The Wolverine” and bump the film to 2013 or beyond, it now looks like they’ve found their director. James Mangold, who has dabbled in various genres from musical biopic (“Walk The Line“), to western (“3:10 To Yuma“) and horror (“Identity“), is prepared to take on his first comic book adaptation, and the announcement suggests he’s the mutual pick from Fox and Hugh Jackman‘s camp. Mangold appears to be the top choice among an uninspired trio of potential helmers that included Antoine Fuqua and Gavin O’Connor, otherwise known as Guys You Employ When They Are Represented By The Same Agency As Someone You Want To Work With.
As we all know, Darren Aronofsky first got the gig, but a combination of family issues, worries about Japan’s volatile environmental situation, a lack of control, “Black Swan” making him bankable, and probably finally watching “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” made him vacate the director’s chair. Cue the drawing up of a wish list, which included names that probably turned down offers to direct the film (we know of one). All the while, you have to admire Jackman’s dedication to the character, as he’s remained committed to the adamantium-fueled mutant while rejecting overtures for other lucrative paydays.
Mangold last helmed the overlong and overwritten “Knight And Day,” which, if anything, showed that he could do convincing large-scale action. While the film wasn’t the smash that was anticipated, the ability to turn that troubled production into a watchable film with solid action sequences is commendable. However, we’re not sure what a skill with heavily-rehearsed explosion-heavy moments will do for “The Wolverine” as the current incarnation of the project, written by Christopher McQuarrie, is said to utilize most of Aronofsky’s intense, low-fi notes (and the budget, a rumored $90 million, is far below that of the standard blockbuster). We’ll be optimistic regarding the script, but considering the unwatchability of the first film and the likelihood that half of Hollywood may have turned this project down, the gestating picture should still be approached with caution.