Most studios cycle through plenty of choices before offering a tentpole franchise to a director, but it's not often that they recieve as much attention as Fox has with The Wolverine, the Christopher McQuarrie-scripted sequel to the Gavin Hood-directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Sure, the studio hasn't exactly been sending out waves of press releases about their director courtships, but over the past few months their short list of preferred honchos hasn't been hard to come by.
Every few months that list shortens to one or two names. The last time this happened, Darren Aronofsky beat out David Slade and had the project in the bag until he suddenly dropped out, citing family commitments as his reason for departing (the film, largely set in Japan, would have kept the Black Swan director away from his New York home for too long). Since then a variety of names have been in and out of orbit of the project, but according to Deadline, Fox has now made an offer to James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Identity).
Of course this doesn't mean that Mangold will be directing The Wolverine absolutely, but it does mean that it's his project to turn down. Should he say no, Deadline reports that his most recent competitors were Gavin O'Connor (Warrior) and Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), though it's unclear if the studio has a backup chosen at this point.
But what make you of their choice? Personally, I'd have liked to seen David Slade take the reins on the project all those moons ago (he's since moved onto rebooting Daredevil), but Mangold is a promising, if unexciting, choice. Knight and Day, his last job for Fox, was a severe disappointment, but treating that as a fluke, Mangold has a career of mostly above average flicks under his belt. My only concern at this point is that he may be too safe of a choice. It would be a shame to see Fox do something truly unique with X-Men: First Class only to lower their ambitions for their next foray into the X-Men universe.