James Mangold took over for Darren Aronofsky to direct The Wolverine and his involvement should be a positive sign for moviegoers. In the past, the filmmaker has helmed Oscar-nominated dramas such as the 2010 remake 3:10 to Yuma and the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. These two career highlights were praised for their acting and directing, which indicates that Mangold has a touch for cracking the human element in his films.
Mangold is also passionate about the subject matter. He has talked about enjoying comic books as a youngster (so the source material means something special to him) and seems to have a firm grasp on what The Wolverine needs to be in order to be successful. The director is hoping to craft a more personal, character-driven story that breaks from the mold of a typical summer action flick. Mangold is looking to respect the rich storytelling of comic books and graphic novels in and break away from what he calls the “standard formula” of a big-budget superhero adaptation. Obviously, there will still be action (the train sequence has been heavily featured in marketing), but it should be refreshing to see a movie like this go in a different direction.
The best superhero films – The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Spider-Man 2, even The Incredibles – rely more on character than set pieces, making the person behind the mask (or in this case sideburns) just as interesting to watch as the action elements. If this is what Mangold is going for, it's a promising approach.