With Darren Aronofsky dropping out of 'The Wolverine,' ostensibly because he didn't want to spend up to a year working in Japan away from his family, 20th Century Fox could have some difficulty finding a new director for the superhero sequel.
Of the usual suspects who could handle such material -- Zack Snyder, Jon Favreau, Christopher Nolan, Bryan Singer (who launched the franchise in the first place), Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro -- most of them already have full dance cards; in fact, several are working on their own superhero projects. So maybe Fox should think outside the box.
How far outside the box? Check out the suggestions below. Okay, they probably don't sound serious to you, but how much more of a stretch would 'Wolverine' be for these folks than for the director of a low-budget art-house psychological horror movie like 'Black Swan'?
Woody Allen. Wolverine is a pretty neurotic guy; in Allen's version, he'll be seeing a shrink twice a week. He'll also date an inappropriately younger woman. Allen muse Scarlett Johansson comes to mind, especially since she's already part of the Marvel universe (since 'Iron Man 2'), but she's probably too old, so it'll have to be Dakota Fanning.
Martin Scorsese. We can't wait for the six-minute tracking shot following Wolverine into the bowels of Professor Xavier's school for mutants, or the scene where he repeatedly asks his equally invulnerable brother Victor to punch him as hard as he can.
James Ivory. We're not sure how Logan will hold a teacup without those claws getting in the way, but we'd love to see him try.
Roman Polanski. Hey, if Fox wants a director who's willing to work for an extended period of time outside the United States...
Tim Burton. Yes, he already directed one (or two) of the signature superhero movies of modern times, but that was two decades ago. Maybe the director who gave Johnny Depp razor-wielding fists in 'Edward Scissorhands' and 'Sweeney Todd' would be willing to go back to that well for Hugh Jackman's claws.
Wes Anderson. Maybe the comic-book action will look even more, um, active when shot head-on with a static camera. Bill Murray will make a great sad and wistful supervillain. And the soundtrack of forgotten '60s pop gems will be killer.
Nora Ephron. You know those grim little puns that action heroes drop when they kill people? Who better to write them than the quipster behind 'When Harry Met Sally' and 'You've Got Mail'? Also, we know Logan is basically penniless, but he doesn't have to live in a dump, does he? In Ephron's version, he'll live in an apartment full of furnishings from Pottery Barn and kitchenware from Williams-Sonoma. Plus, with those talons, the way he carves pastrami is enough to give Meg Ryan an orgasm.
Tyler Perry. Logan meets his match in a 6'5" gun-toting grandma.
Alejandro González Iñárritu. Few superheroes have as bleak a temperament as Logan, and no one does bleak like the director of 'Biutiful.' Sure, it'll be the most depressing comic-book movie ever made, but maybe it'll finally get Jackman an Oscar nomination.
Joel and Ethan Coen. Wolverine will grumble incessantly and incoherently as he reluctantly accompanies a 14-year-old girl with impeccable diction on a mission of vengeance. Bad guy will be a supervillain with a really unflattering haircut. The film will be gorgeously shot by Roger Deakins, who nonetheless will fail to win an Oscar for his cinematography.
Quentin Tarantino. Villains will be an army of masked, sword-wielding Yakuza thugs, under a female crimelord with large and lovingly photographed feet. Logan will moan about how hard it is to get a good cheeseburger in Japan as he scalps his enemies.
Takashi Miike. Hey, Fox, you're making a movie set in Japan, whose hero can slash people to ribbons with his bare hands -- how is this guy not on the top of your list?
Charlie Sheen. Sure, he's never directed a movie before, but he's about to have a lot of time on his hands. Plus, with his will power and untapped talents, he can do anything. For a rock star from Mars who has tiger blood and fire-breathing fists, a movie about a mutant superhero with claws sprouting from his knuckles should be a piece of cake.
•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.