The war for Larry Talbot’s damned soul is being won by the side of right. 

Though I’m not about to guarantee anything, the feeling I’m getting from working the phones this morning is that Universal was taken aback by the vehemently negative reaction to Brett Ratner stepping in for Mark Romanek on The Wolf Man (which was an unofficial leak in the first place).  Does this mean they never planned to meet with genre craftsmen/aficionados like Frank Darabont, Bill Condon, Joe Johnston and, according to Collider, John Landis until the Ratner story broke?  I don’t know.  But I’d like to think our outcry had some kind of positive effect.

It seems like the first wave of possible replacements favored British directors (Martin Campbell’s name is out there, and there’s another I can’t divulge), which would’ve surely made things easier for the mostly U.K.-based production.  And they may still get a Brit helmer if Neil Marshall has his way (one strike against him: he’s never handled a huge studio production before).  But seeing the above names get in contention for a werewolf movie featuring creature f/x from Rick Baker leads me to believe that the studio flat-out doesn’t want another Van Helsing; for the first time in forever, they actually want to honor their classic monster tradition.  That’s a (shockingly) encouraging thing.

I’m reticent to name a frontrunner at the time being, but Darabont would seem the obvious choice.  Johnston, on the other hand, has a solid history with Universal (Jurassic Park 3 and October Sky); he’d be a great hire.  Condon?  It wouldn’t jibe with the direction in which his career is moving, but he’s got a deep and abiding affection for the genre.  Don’t get your hopes up, but who knows?  And I know there’s been a real push to get Landis back in the A-list game.  What better chance for a return to form than a lycanthrope reunion with Rick Baker?

We likely won’t know anything until next week, but The Wolf Man is in a lot better shape than it was on Wednesday.