It looks like Brian Kirk is still negotiating to helm Thor 2 for Marvel. However, he's also lining up to direct Paper Wings, a long-in-development project that has attracted the interest of Tom Cruise.
Since Cruise won't have an opening in his work schedule until the late part of 2012, it's unlikely that Kirk would begin work on the latter project before the Thor sequel. He could followup the comic book flick about a formerly cocky superhero by directing a character drama about... a formerly cocky cowboy.
Variety says that Paper Wings revolves around an aging bull riding champion who romances a country singer on the rise. Leslie Bohem (Daylight, Dante's Peak, The Alamo) scripted the project all the way back in 2005. It almost began production last year, with Cruise and Reese Witherspoon starring and Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness) serving as director, but that version of the project ultimately failed to come to fruition.
Our own Niall Browne previously pointed out that Cruise playing a "cocky man of action" in Paper Wings wouldn't require a stretch of the imagination, since he's been doing it for (basically) his entire career. Similarly, Witherspoon previously won an Oscar for playing a tough country singer with a heart of gold (see: Walk the Line), so she too could make a fine addition to the film - if she is still interested, that is.
Cruise is clearly aiming for a career resurgence following the underperformance of Knight & Day (which still managed a $262 million worldwide gross) last summer. He's got Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol already in the can; will possibly jump-start a new franchise by starring in the Jack Reacher novel adaptation, One Shot; and has Joseph Kosinski's next sci-fi tentpole project, Oblivion, to tackle afterwards.
Paper Wings would provide Cruise a break from blockbuster material to show off his dramatic acting chops again. His potential role in the film would see the A-lister back on Jerry Maguire territory - and not so much his less mainstream dramatic turns in titles like Magnolia or Vanilla Sky. It sounds like a nice fit for Cruise, in that sense.
Kirk has such a varied background in directing television dramas that he should be able to do Paper Wings justice; plus, it would offer him a break from helming expensive studio projects, should it become his Thor 2 followup. The mystery factor in all this is really Bohem's screenplay, since his previous script work doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence.
We will keep you posted on the status of Paper Wings.