[The Week in Geek is a weekly Tuesday column that plunges headfirst into a deep pool of genre geekiness without ever coming up for air.]
There's a very good chance that director Darren Aronofsky on 'The Wolverine' would have delivered one of the best comic book movies of all time -- a transcendent piece of pop entertainment; Marvel's 'Dark Knight,' if you will. But, yeah, that ain't happening. Aronofsky has moved on to other projects, citing the lengthy on-location shooting schedule as his reason for leaving. Some have speculated if he ever intended on directing it in the first place (see also, the 'Robocop' remake).
Fox is going to make another Wolverine film, but who's right for the director's chair? I'd imagine that Aronofsky had a remarkably singular take on the character; he's not exactly an interchangeable cog in the work-for-hire machine. My guess is that Fox will likely find someone who is more of a work-for-hire type, and not an auteur. The tricky part is finding someone who's enough of a name to gain back some measure of confidence from wary movie-goers who felt that 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' was a sloppy mess of a blockbuster (and it is).
So, who's right for 'The Wolverine?'
The director of 'The Bourne Supremacy' and 'The Bourne Ultimatum' famously flirted with directing 'Watchmen' before Zack Snyder got his mitts all over it, so we at least know he's open-minded toward superhero stories. Greengrass's films pulse with a you-are-there vitality that hasn't quite been seen in a big-time comic book movie. If Fox is truly interested in crafting a Wolverine movie that feels really special, they'll sign him. Otherwise, there's always...
This is exactly the kind of work-for-hire director that's just enough of a name for the poster ("From the director of 'Taken'"), but not so visionary that 'The Wolverine' becomes something remarkable. In other words, he's exactly the kind of director I think Fox will hire. Morel hasn't quite made the jump to the big time like his peer Louis Leterrier has, and 'The Wolverine' could very well be Morel's 'Incredible Hulk,' in more ways than one. He'd get to relaunch a popular A-list franchise while shaking off the stigma of being one of Luc Besson's surrogate directors (just like Leterrier did).
Is Bigelow even interested in taking on a popcorn-munching blockbuster? I can't answer that, but, as a comic book fan, I do know that I want to see her play with superheroes someday (and hopefully soon). The violence in her films always seems to carry consequences, and Wolverine is an especially rich character if you're exploring the emotional toll of a lifetime of violence. She's a bit of a long shot, but a fascinating choice.
Talk about a long shot, Woo's U.S. career is ice cold, and I'm fairly positive he's not even on Fox's longest short list. That's a shame because Wolverine, in Japan, as a ronin mutant samurai facing off against ninja assassins The Hand, would be pretty damned spectacular under Woo's lens. I can already picture the slow-motion shots of a battle-ravaged Wolverine slicing through dozens of relentless ninjas (while snow-white doves fly around them, of course). If the year was 1999, this would be a gimme. Too bad it's 2011.
Keep in mind, none of these names might get the gig. There's also the chance that it might not even matter who does take 'The Wolverine' on. When Brett Ratner took over 'X-Men: The Last Stand' from Bryan Singer (and, somewhere in the pre-production carousel, Matthew Vaughn), much of the planning of the film was done for him; all he had to do was make sure the actors were hitting their marks on schedule. Fox has a notorious reputation for rushing productions, and, with Aronofsky gone, they don't have to mess with tricky things like "vision" anymore (unless they want to -- they could still surprise us. The rumors of David Slade just don't fill me with a lot of hope).
One thing Fox doesn't need is another half-cocked X-Men movie, and they know this. Perhaps they'll breathe-in, exhale, and then take their time choosing the right person for the material. Sure, it's Fox, but crazier things have happened.
Who would you like to see at the helm of the new Wolverine movie?