After director Darren Aronofsky left The Wolverine project back in March, 20th Century Fox and leading actor Hugh Jackman have found their replacement in James Mangold with negotiations now set to get underway, Deadline report.

Mangold has beaten out a number of other brilliant directors to take the job, including Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter), Gavin O’Connor (the upcoming Warrior), Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Jumper), and Justin Lin (Fast Five).

The script has been finished since March last year, and was written by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Christopher McQuarrie, who wrote the ingenious The Usual Suspects back in 1997. Now that Mangold is close to finalising his role as director, Fox are looking to begin principal photography in autumn this year.

Mangold’s last film, Knight And Day, was received to mixed reviews last year, but he’s shown throughout his career that he’s a talented director, with four of the eight films he’s directed getting nominations at the Oscars, and two of them going on to win (Walk The Line and Girl, Interrupted). I think the mixed reception of Knight And Day could well be a good thing for Mangold and The Wolverine, to spur him on to make his next feature that much more impressive. With both Fox and Jackman standing behind him, his vision for McQuarrie’s script should be brilliant.

HitFix had an interview with Aronofsky back in November last year, when he was still attached as director, and he said that The Wolverine isn’t a sequel in the conventional sense, and is going to be a stand-alone film in its own right. The film is to be set in Japan, where Logan spends time in between World War I and II, inspired by the 1982 four-part series that Frank Miller and Chris Claremont collaborated on back in 1982.

With the director’s role all but finalised and now just a matter of completing negotiations, the search for the rest of the cast to support Hugh Jackman, who will of course be reprising his role as the eponymous Wolverine, can now get underway. As arguably the most recognisable Japanese actor in the English language movies at the moment, I really hope that Ken Watanabe will take a leading role in The Wolverine, along with Hiroyuki Sanada (The Last Samurai, Rush Hour 3) and Masi Oka (TV’s Heroes).