By: Mellie Montoya and Aaron Plourde
Art by: Jim Lee
As we’re sure every fanboy and girl are already well aware, two weeks ago Nikki Finke revealed what her sources claim to be Warner Bros. slate of DC films for the next 4 years. The alleged slate is ambitious to say the least, and literally unbelievable. Like seriously, that lineup can’t be real, right? Justice League, Wonder Woman, and a Flash/Green Lantern team-up in the same year? A few days later, Latino Review began to spread the rumor that Warner Bros. has plans to release a solo Batman movie with Ben Affleck in 2019. Both of these rumors should obviously be taken with a huge grain of salt. While we are severely skeptical about the authenticity of the rumored DC slate, this is the internet, so why not have some fun with the lineup. It’s time for another round of “What Would We Do If We Were In Charge at Warner Bros.” Below we have chosen whom we would hire to direct each of the unofficial DC films. We’ve ignored Batman v. Superman and Justice League, as we already know Zack Snyder will be directing those films. Enjoy the list.
1. Shazam - July 2016
Director of choice: Brad Bird
Suggested by: Aaron
Cynics and hipsters love to complain that superhero movies are generic and homogenous, but the great comic book movies have an acute understanding of who their protagonist is and how that separates them from their constmed cohorts. For example, look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier, whose creative team completely understood how to bring to life the story of the star-spangled poster child of the Greatest Generation, awoken in the Snowden era. What makes Shazam such a unique property amongst the other squadrons of heroes listed here is Captain Marvel’s alter ego, Billy Batson. Unlike brooding playboy Bruce Wayne or Snyder’s daddy-issues Clark Kent, Billy Batson is a child. If the rest of the DC cinematic universe holds a similar tone to that of Man of Steel, then Shazam’s story of a child who gains the power to transform into a powerful, flying superhero offers an opportunity to introduce tonal variety to the universe through its necessary inclusion of a child’s fun and optimism. Being that capturing the childlike sense of wonder that accompanies a young boy taking to the skies would be key to nailing Shazam, there is no better choice to direct the film than Brad Bird. That’s not a crazy original suggestion, as Brad Bird is suggested by fans on the internet to direct every blockbuster, but he’s so oft-suggested for a reason: He’s effing great. The man’s won 2 Oscars and made arguably the most exciting Mission: Impossible film in his live-action directorial debut. Even if Bird’s filmography didn’t include his Pixar or M:I work, the endearing heart of The Iron Giant is enough to make Bird the man to bring Billy Batson’s tale to life.
2. Sandman – Christmas 2016
Director of choice: No one
Runner-up: Terrence Malick
Suggested by: Mellie
Sandman is unfilmable. It’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect as it is. Leave it alone. I know I sound like every comic book fan ever, petulant and overprotective, but seriously, hear me out. For the uninitiated, Sandman is a series written by the incredibly talented Neil Gaiman. Along with Preacher and Watchmen, I consider Sandman as one of the best, most creative examples of the artistic and narrative potential of graphic novels, and I’m not alone. It’s about Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams…sort of. It’s also about everything that has ever existed and not existed since the beginning of time. Part of the amazingness of Sandman is the breadth of themes and ideas it explores, and the depth to which it explores them. Inevitably, adapting Sandman into a film, or even films, will result in leaving out significant portions of the series, thus introducing a limit to Sandman’s storytelling potential that is nonexistent in its current form. Additionally, Sandman is more than happy to get its fantasy on while letting its freak flag fly. It is so wonderfully weird, and I’m worried that in a misguided attempt to market Sandman to a more general audience, studio execs will decide to muffle its remarkable strangeness. For that reason, if I absolutely have to pick a director for Sandman, I choose Terrence Malick. Full disclosure, I’ve never seen a Terrence Malick film, but if his reputation holds, he’ll at the very least capture the otherworldly aesthetic of Sandman by not shying away from its more bizarre and abstract elements. But to wrap up, I’ll end this the way I began it: leave Sandman alone…I’m talking to you, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
3. Wonder Woman - July 2017
Director of choice: Michelle MacLaren
Suggested by: Mellie
(Insert rant about how a Wonder Woman movie should have been made yesterday because she’s freaking Wonder Woman and because of other reasons). An overwhelming number of Hollywood blockbusters have been directed by men, written by men, starred men, and been aimed at men. Men, congratulations, but for the sake of variety, equality, and overall goodness for humanity, ladies need a shot too. If dreams come true, Michelle MacLaren directs this movie. She is an absolute rock star who has been responsible for many of the best episodes of TV’s most compelling and popular shows (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones). The vision and feel for the shows MacLaren has worked on are all incredibly different, and she’s really knocked it out of the park for all of them, thus proving her diversity and adaptability. Additionally, her TV background has given her a lot of experience handling narratives with incredibly high stakes, so she’ll definitely be able to make audiences take Wonder Woman, and whatever storyline they give her, seriously. MacLaren’s confident, purposeful, and artistic directing are exactly what Warner Bros. needs in order to make a Wonder Woman movie that is worthy of its titular character. Now we all have to hope that Gal Gadot has what it takes to wield that lasso.
4. Flash and Green Lantern team-up – Christmas 2017
Directors of choice: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
Suggested by: Mellie
This seems like one of the more random movies on the list, but it’s actually a pretty good idea. I’m not sure the Flash could headline his own movie, and the last solo Green Lantern movie was so terrible, horrible, no good, very bad that I seriously can’t think of an appropriately disparaging putdown. Anyone familiar with sayings knows that two heads are better than one, and by playing up the relationship between Green Lantern and the Flash, audiences can get a lot of bang for their buck. The most likely Flash/Green Lantern friend pair we will get is Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, and who better to film this super bromance than Hollywood’s most successful bromancers: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The two are responsible for Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, and 22 Jump Street. Their films are hilarious, fun, and creative, and their directorial style is energetic and fresh. As evidenced by their Jump Street movies, Lord and Miller are total pros at capturing the comedy and heart of best friendsmanship in out-of-the-ordinary situations. Sure, the action set pieces they’ve directed so far haven’t hit superhero blockbuster levels yet, but if Hollywood has learned anything, I hope it’s learned that putting faith in supremely talented but “inexperienced” people pays off big time.
5. Man Of Steel 2 - May 2018
Director of Choice: Lesli Linka Glatter
Suggested by: Aaron
This entry might seem like a waste of a slot to suggest a director. At this point in the hypothetical universe, Zack Snyder would have directed Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Justice League, aka every movie featuring Henry Cavill’s Superman. In all likelihood, Zack Snyder would direct Man of Steel 2. There is, however, always the chance that Snyder could get burned out on making comic book movies (albeit a small chance given his filmography). Just to shake things up a bit, let’s suggest a replacement for Snyder and go with Lesli Linka Glatter. Glatter is probably our most random selection, as she is a 61 year old woman whose directed only one full-length feature. Much like MacLaren, Glatter is a go-to director for television’s prestige dramas. Following Marvel’s recent falling out with Edgar Wright, it’s easy to see the advantages of hiring directors with television experience to work within these sprawling universes. Television directors know what it’s like to create a story over which they lack the creative control of many film directors. They have to execute the vision of the showrunner and the writing staff, filming a story whose aesthetic and continuity were established without them. Glatter’s television credentials speak for themselves. For proof of her talent, see “Q&A,” arguably Homeland’s finest hour. Her episodes of Homeland and Mad Men are filled with shots which derive tension from the most basic of backdrops. Unlike blockbuster directors like Michael Bayhem, Glatter produces absorbing entertainment by keeping her shots locked onto the characters and the emotions brought to life by the performers, not on any surrounding chaos. Glatter brings the humanity of characters to the forefront, a desirable quality when so many blockbusters have become so numbing. There are certainly plenty of filmmakers I’d love to see work on Superman, some of them on this list (see Bird, Brad). So while I’m certainly receptive to the hiring of a bigger name director or the return of Snyder, I’d love to see what Glatter would do playing in the increasingly epic DC sandbox.
6. The Batman – 2019
Director of Choice: Denis Villeneuve
Suggested by: Aaron
Much like Man of Steel 2, any solo Batman movie in this universe comes with an obvious choice to direct, in this case, the star himself. I one-hundred percent support Ben Affleck directing a Batman movie, due to the absolute mastery over dramatic tension he has displayed in his three films, particularly in Gone Baby Gone. But again, let’s make things interesting and suggest another choice, one who’s most popular film shares the same strengths (and, you know, subject matter) as Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone. That would be Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve. In Prisoners, Villeneuve displayed intensity and desperation so palpable that his film is evocative of the crime genre work of David Fincher (another fan-favorite and Willie-supported choice to make a Batman film). Beyond creating a perfect tone for his bleak and severe thriller, Villeneuve superbly handled the film’s violence, holding the camera on the violence just long enough for the audience to feel the gravity and brutality of the actions, but not too long so as to exploit their cruelty. A Villeneuve-directed take on the Caped Crusader would be even more exciting if he was working with the rest of the Prisoners creative team, as it would be a pleasure to witness writer Aaron Guzikowski spin a true detective tale for the Bat, and to see a Gotham aesthetic realized by DP Roger Deakins. Or just have Affleck do it. That’ll work.
So there you have it, our 6 choices to bring the rumored-but-probably-not-real DC lineup to life. Here’s to hoping Warner Bros. actual lineup includes some inspired choices of their own. Hope you enjoyed the read. If you feel so inspired, leave a comment with your own suggestions (but please don’t comment mean things that will attack our intelligence and/or hurt our feelings. Be nice, internet).