David O. Russell
Why? Like Aronofsky, Russell is a passionate director with a unique vision, and the fact that he's gearing up to adapt videogame Uncharted shows that he's not afraid to handle distinctly commercial projects.
He also has a history of picking up Aronofsky's cast-offs, having directed The Fighter to great acclaim.
Key Scene: After a bruising showdown with a bunch of samurais, Wolverine comes over all pensive, and starts to wonder what it's all about.
Likelihood? Well, he is prepping Uncharted: Drake's Fortune at the moment, so that's likely to consume all his time for the next couple of years. If it wasn't for that, we bet he'd be a shoo-in.
Why? Marvel are known for their slightly offbeat choice of directors, and Bigelow fits the bill perfectly, as she manages to keep an impressive grip on characterisation in the heat of some astonishing action scenes.
It's about time a lady took the reins on one of their mainstream properties, too.
Key Scene: Wolverine loses it and unleashes the animal within in a barroom brawl, and Bigelow delivers one of the most pulse-pounding, adrenaline-cranking, unashamedly-macho action scenes in comic-book movie history.
Likelihood? The Wolverine might seem a little too frivolous for her tastes, having scooped a ground-breaking Oscar for The Hurt Locker .
Why? The Brit director has an admirably-high hit rate so far (c'mon, he even made a decent Twilight entry), and if The Wolverine is to retain any sort of Aronofsky-edge, it could do a lot worse than replicating the razor-sharp tension of Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night .
His name was also reported to be on the Wolverine shortlist before Aronofsky won the job.
Key Scene: Slade often underpins action scenes with emotional resonance, and he can handle large scale bust-ups, so we'd like to see Wolverine defending his beloved Itsu's village from an onslaught orchestrated by his arch-enemy Romulus.
Likelihood? A mere matter of days ago, it was announced that Slade would be helming the Daredevil reboot, which probably rules him out of the running for this one, unless Marvel decide The Wolverine is a priority.
Why? After announcing himself in an under-the-radar kind of way with Cloverfield , Reeves proved he could be respectful of other people's material when he directed a worthy remake of Let the Right One In .
Key Scene: Reeves' only major addition to Let Me In was a stunning single-shot car-crash sequence, so any scene in which Logan gets involved in some sort of stylised vehicular mishap is fine by us.
Likelihood? He's definitely a contender. Although he has plans to work on his own version of The Invisible Woman , nothing's set in stone yet so he could be ready to step in.
Why? Vaughn almost got to direct Wolvie in X-Men 3 , but that fell through, and Brett Ratner took over (and we all know how that turned out).
After shaking up the superhero genre with Kick-Ass , Vaughn bagged himself X-Men: First Class , but that ain't gonna feature Wolverine...
Key Scene: Kick-Ass demonstrated that he could handle kinetic, ballsy action scenes and OTT characters.
We'd bring back Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool for the final showdown, in an effort to redeem the wastefulness of X-Men Origins and its anti-climactic ending.
Likelihood? He could be X -ed out after First Class , and it's not like he has a shortage of future work, with Kick-Ass 2 , The Golden Age and maybe even First Class sequels all possibilities.
Why? Frankly, after Moon , Jones could do know wrong in our eyes. Source Code may have a bigger budget and bigger names, but Jones has still favoured characterisation and ideas over genre cliches.
After he missed out on the chance to put his unique stamp on Judge Dredd , we reckon he's ready to take on a Marvel tentpole.
Key Scene: The moment Logan discovers the truth about the Weapon X program, after spending the movie trying to uncover the his hazy past.
Likelihood? We like his chances. Marvel should get in there before it's too late...
Why? Padilha, the Brazillian director behind intense military actioner Elite Squad , has been tapped as a possible director for the RoboCop reboot (another project abandoned by serial-dumper Aronofsky).
Nothing's official on that front yet, so perhaps he'll fill the vacant director's chair here instead.
Key Scene: After a major disturbance of the peace, Wolverine is surrounded by the Special Forces in downtown Tokyo. Cue a frenetic, city-levelling assault, as the cops discover quite how difficult it is to bring down an adamantium-skelentoned mutant with regenerating powers.
Likelihood? Given Elite Squad 's gritty look at urban law enforcement, we reckon he's probably a better fit for RoboCop .
Why? Singer was the director who made Wolverine a cinema icon in the first place, and his projects since departing the X -world as director ( Superman Returns , Valkyrie ) haven't generated anywhere near as much excitement.
And The Wolverine script comes courtesy of his old mucker Christopher McQuarrie. That's gotta be tempting...
Key Scene: Singer neatly segues the ending of the movie into Wolverine's bare-knuckle cage-fighting introduction in X-Men .
Likelihood? He'd be perfect, if it wasn't for the fact that his long-mooted Jack the Giant Killer is finally gathering some pace.
Why? Nolan is another director who has picked up where Aronofsky has left off... sort of.
Aronofsky was working on an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One at the turn of the millennium (and Christian Bale was rumoured to be attached), but after the project fell through, Nolan later reinvented the Bat with his own prequel.
Key Scene: Nolan's always keen to explore the murky morality of his heroes, so we'd be looking out for an early scene in which a memory-wiped Wolverine discovers that his brute strength will get him far on the mean streets of Japan.
Likelihood? Nil. The best you could probably get out of him would be some sort of 'Godfather' role in the production.
Why? Like Aronofsky, he's a quirky, celebrated filmmaking talent who has held on to his individuality despite finding mainstream success. This could be his next step up the blockbuster ladder, following Where the Wild Things Are .
Key Scene: Jonze never steers the focus of his movies too far away from his protagonists' fragile mental states.
He could have a field day with a fevered, daydream of an opening, following Logan's brain-wipe at the end of X-Men Origins .
Likelihood? Probably not the highest. We can't exactly see the studio being convinced by his take on the material.
Why? Liebesman recently delivered gritty, grunt's-eye-level alien invasion thrills in Battle: Los Angeles , and he was handed the keys to sequel Wrath of the Titans , in the hope he could improve on the middling first outing.
Can he turn around the fortunes of the Wolverine spin-offs too?
Key Scene: Battle: Los Angeles was stronger on action than it was on characterisation, so it'd have to be something worthy of a colossal set-piece: let's do the sentinels properly!
General Stryker sends the mutant-hunting robots to Japan to pursue his AWOL Weapon X...
Likelihood? More than possible, depending on his Wrath schedule.
Why? David Twohy is best known for his Riddick movies, but he also directed Below , written and produced by one Darren Aronofsky.
While The Chronicles of Riddick drowned in its own nonsense mythology, there's no denying that Pitch Black was taut and effective, and he recently reminded us he could still deliver thrills with A Perfect Getaway .
Key Scene: He seems to produce his best action scenes when restricted to confined locations, so we'd love to see what he could do with Wolvie infiltrating a yakuza penthouse.
Likelihood? It's not looking like he'll make any more Riddick films any time soon, so this could be on.
Why? An unlikely choice, but then again, so was Aronofsky, which is what got us so excited about The Wolverine in the first place.
Winterbottom loves jumping from genre to genre, and this would definitely count as a surprise.
Key Scene: An über-realistic, censor-baitingly brutal one-on-one fist-fight between Wolverine and Romulus.
Likelihood? Winterbottom's next move is anyone's guess, so we probably wouldn't put money on it just yet, but you can't rule it out either.
Why? Buried had one of the most audacious premises of last year, but Cortés absolutely nailed it. We'd love to see what he go do if his set was expanded beyond a box.
Key Scene: In a wordless opening, Wolverine wanders from across the jagged mountainous ranges and undulating countryside of Japan.
Likelihood? He's shooting a paranormal thriller with Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver at the moment, so he might not be available at the short notice that Fox have...
Why? Quite simply, are there any other auteurs working today that can match Aronofsky for ingenuity, technical flair and out-and-out ferocity?
We know from Benjamin Button and Dragon Tattoo that he's not averse to more commercial fare.
Key Scene: A bold, breathless steadicam shot, tearing through the streets of Tokyo, taking in each strata of society (including the mutant demographic) as they go about their business, before settling on a lone stranger in a bar who's about to erupt in a fit of violent rage.
Likelihood? Sadly, this is tending towards zero. Dragon Tattoo may be on the more commercial side of Fincher's work, but only by his own exacting standards.