James Mangold to Tackle the Ford vs. Ferrari Rivalry

The ‘Logan’ director is shifting gears from superheroes to fast cars.

James Mangold already has a number of films in the works, but a new one just got added to the docket. Variety reports that the he will next direct an as-yet-untitled period piece about the heated competition between car manufacturers Ford and Ferrari to construct the fastest race car.

“The Untitled Ford vs. Ferrari Project” will be “based on a true story” of a group of American engineers and designers who are hired by Ford to create a new automobile from scratch that could show up a competing Ferrari vehicle at the 1966 Le Mans World Championship. Heading the Ford team are “automotive visionary” Carroll Shelby and his British driver, Ken Miles.

No sort of cast is attached, but let’s consider the many factors that make this project so darn attractive to this industry. Firstly, actors love biopics and a Mangold-directed one is probably a sure sign of success; he has directed both Angelina Jolie and Reese Witherspoon to awards glory. Second, movies about healthy competition (and featuring cars driving at break-neck speeds) blends the biopic and action genres together well.

Third, Mangold very consistently churns out good films, no matter how many genres he tries to tackle. Finally — the most timely factor of all — Logan was the talk of the town last year as one of the more revolutionary superhero films, becoming the first live-action movie of that genre to nab a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the Academy Awards.

Mangold’s earlier work also speaks to a period sensibility that would really work for Ford vs. Ferrari, despite the fact that he spent much of his creative energies in the last few years fleshing out Wolverine’s final two standalone chapters. Walk the Line, the 3:10 to Yuma remake and Kate & Leopold all have their perks and at least showcase Mangold’s ability to navigate different time periods and conceits.

The Ford vs. Ferrari project will be Mangold’s next collaboration with 20th Century Fox, the studio that has produced his last two films (which both happen to be in the X-Men franchise).The studio is also in charge of Mangold’s upcoming adaptation of Dan Winslow’s book “The Force,” and the family film Crenshaw.

Mangold was also set to direct a drama based on Patty Hearst’s life, but the ultimately ill-advised project — which would have starred Elle Fanning — was scrapped by Fox after Hearst objected to the production. He also has commitments at Disney, namely a Captain Nemo film that will serve as an origin for the character in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

If a Ford vs. Ferrari movie sounds familiar, that’s probably because there are also a number of Enzo Ferrari biopics in the works right now, including one from Michael Mann meant to star Mangold’s Logan lead, Hugh Jackman, and another produced by Robert De Niro. Considering Mangold’s is more focused on Ford, we could be in for a whole new competition to see which one of these films races to theaters fastest.

Sheryl Oh :Daily writer for Film School Rejects. Perpetually sleepy final girl enthusiast.