Who Should Direct the ‘Justice League’ Movie?

With the success of The Avengers debunking the “superhero film is dying” myth, DC is trying to stay cinematically relevant. While I don’t think they’ve ever done as well as Marvel has (with the exception of Nolan’s Batman trilogy and maybe Green Lantern), with bringing their iconic characters to the big screen. The close of The Dark Knight trilogy, and the upcoming Man of Steel film seems to have sparked an even more hopeful flame under the ass of studio execs. While rumors float around about villains and actors, no one has been chatting about the director yet. There are a few names that pop into my mind as either likely candidates or just ones I’d like to see behind the lens, but besides my following nominations, who else would you like to see take the reins on the Justice League film? With The Avengers taking the tone of “light as a feather”, DC has to either; make it MORE fun than The Avengers is, or go for the total opposite, a darker, character driven, realism piece. Justice League isn’t slated for release until the later part of 2015, but you would never say it’s too early to make a Christmas wish list.

12. Sam Mendes

The dude just hopped off the red hot Skyfall. If you saw the latest Bond spectacle, you know that it’s able to rip your ass out of the seat and your heart out of your chest. Mendes was also inspired by Nolan’s Batman films, to take a comic book character and make him something real with a past and a psych. I think he could bring a terrific sense of action to the film while still keeping with the darker tone that DC seems to be going for. He was able to remind audiences that James Bond was a real person with problems just like the rest of us, not just a playboy millionaire spy. Sound similar to a certain caped crusader?

11. Paul Greengrass

The Bourne films started this trend of realistic spy thriller. Away with the exploding pens and ejection seats, the reason Casino Royale was churned out with that rough realistic feel, is due to the success of the Bourne series. The tortured spy, and his quest for answers. While the shakey camera thing might not suit Justice League, the chase like structure of the Bourne films made for some excellent pacing. Remember the final moments of The Bourne Ultimatum, Bourne’s assured survival just by the sounding of Moby’s “Extreme Ways”, Greengrass can evoke that cinematic awe that Justice League will need. While Greengrass is preoccupied at the moment with completing a few projects of his own, Justice League is still in conception, I’m sure a big enough pay check could help cox him.

10. Zack Snyder

While my faith in bullet time and music video director Zach Snyder has faded since 300, Hollywood studios still seem to have hope. He is directing the upcoming Man of Steel film, which from the trailer looks like an odd Tree of Life mockery, and the guy does know how to direct action, just not actors. As long as there’s someone on set to keep him, a pen, and the script separate I think we’ll be good. I sort of like the imagery I’m getting, Watchmen had those great group action set pieces, like the one in the alley with the muggers, and the whole prison breakout sequence looked pretty darn dazzling. It’s not just the way the action is strung together that looked great but it was the ballet behind it. Crackling flames behind strokes of the Silk Spectre’s yellow jacket suit. He does a pretty great job with music choices too. While I hated Sucker Punch I loved the music tracks, maybe not the indie rock covers, but they do an excellent job of letting us know what is a dream world and what is not. Imagine some Tool playing as Batman and Superman tag team an oncoming villainous onslaught, I can dig.

9. Christopher Nolan

While I wanted to keep filmmakers on the Star Wars list covering the same subject off this one, and I feel it’s almost too easy to add him since you can slap him onto any “who should direct” list. Nolan really is a fantastic director, and what better way to make the rest of Hollywood more jealous of him, then by giving him the okay to direct Justice League. Again I have a feeling this will never happen due to how Nolan chooses projects, but he made the “real” superhero film a reality, and he’s producing Snyder’s Man of Steel, perhaps DC just wants the films to carry a somewhat similar tone or make sure they stay anchored in the same universe. While Batman is a character that is arguably much easier to keep grounded in reality, Superman on the other hand, is someone from literally out of this world. Making that jump to intergalactic might be similar to forcing a square peg in a round hole.

8. Martin Campbell

Mr. Campbell has already done a superhero film (Green Lantern), and one that I think is far better than it’s given credit for. He’s also been 007’s director twice over now. I’ve never seen Goldeneye, but Casino Royale is credited as one of the best Bond films ever made and being a savior for the franchise. It brought something new to the table, a breathing round character. James Bond was always someone who had to overcome some external struggle, but Casino Royale humanized him. Internal struggle was new territory for 007. Campbell did the same for Hal Jordan, the powers of a Green Lantern are that of inner origin. The control over fear. It’s also a visual buffet. All the swirling galactic imagery makes for some very pleasing photography. If Hal Jordan is set to return as the Green Lantern then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have this guy on board.

7. Matthew Vaughn

Mr. Vaughn is actually the rumored flavor of the month for Star Wars Episode VII. I think he’d do a fantastic job with either film. While he has spent his time in the Marvel Universe, there’s no reason he can’t come to the other side with this one. I think it may be tougher to keep the darker tone here and Vaughn’s version of Justice League would be lighter in both senses of the word, but I think he could get some terrific performances out of his superheroes. Layer Cake gave Daniel Craig his start in the big leagues, and Kick Ass had a tone that rivals The Avengers for most fun. His X-Men prequel is arguably one of the best superhero films ever made. It comes from Vaughn’s incredible sense to recognize the material he’s working with. He understands that this is a superhero film, and would execute it like a superhero film, but with extreme grace and near textbook perfection.

6. David Koepp

While action doesn’t seem to be his first choice when directing, Premium Rush was a really solid action film, excellent pacing, with such a great hold on the heart of the story. While it’s small, I’d expect the same precision on something ten times the size. It’s all of a matter of if he can handle it. It’s not just how well the action was choreographed, it was his sense of presentation, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s bullet time future vision to predict the path of his bike was brilliant. He’s got a great sense of character and plotting from being the writer on some of the biggest blockbusters of the last 15 years (Jurassic ParkSpiderman) – and Secret Window is one of the greatest Stephen King adaptations out there, (spoiler!) even if it falls into the “Fight Club but not” list.

5. Rob Cohen

I’ll defend the first fast and the furious movie till death. The car action sequences are incredible, that first hijacking is something I haven’t forgotten since seeing it on the big screen. Rob Cohen can direct a breathtaking action scene, something that is jaw dropping on the big screen. That’s what this film will need most. Like the bus flipping over in The Dark Knight, there needs to be spectacular action, captured in memorable imagery. The cars speeding in and out from under the 18 wheeler truck they are hijacking gives me that same feeling. Imagine a birds eye view of the Justice League in flight, in pursuit of one of the numerous villains who can also spread their wings. Though just gotta keep it away from anything similar to Iron Man flying around the skyscrapers of Manhattan, cause you know, that’s easy to avoid.

4. David Ayer

End of Watch was a great cop film, and those are easy to mess up! I’m willing to give the guy a shot on this, the way he builds relationship subtly in End of Watch had me unexpectedly attached to the characters at the end. While all of this was shot in an odd: “POV but not” sort of way, the action is still there and coherent. It doesn’t have bad imagery either, a shot of the city reflected on the hood of a police cruiser is one that sticks in my mind. While he doesn’t have the experience of the other directors on this list, I’d be more than willing to throw him the camera on this one. See what the guy can do, under a great producer like oh lets just say Christopher Nolan, I think he’d do fairly well.

3. Guy Ritchie

Sherlock Holmes wasn’t a great film but I love Ritchie’s sense of action. His bullet time and sense of creativity is great. The first fight scene in Sherlock Holmes sets a trend for the rest of the film and does something perhaps never done in an action film before, and that’s giving us the characters train of thought. Sherlock targets his points and executes a deadly barrage of strikes to the body of his foes, crippling and paralyzing them. Guy Ritchie is also a hell of a lot better at direction and character than many of the other directors on this list. His films are a bit more on the fun side but they still have a dark tone to them. They balance violence and humor well, watch his early crime film Snitch. We’d have a very different type of Justice League film, Ritchie may have the maturity that this film needs to separate it from The Avengers.

2. Joe Cornish

Attack the Block was one of my favorite films of last year. Edgar Wright has him writing the Ant Man film, but I’d like to give him another shot at directing. His previously mentioned directorial debut showed he can develop character and communicate action well. Attack the Block is a visual film, the glow of the aliens teeth around a camouflaged pitch black body, and the image of a hundred aliens descending upon a single apartment. But it’s got substance too. Moses our hero, starts off pretty disliked and by the end of the film we’re cheering for him. That takes a damn good director to pull that off. He’s used to directing a large group of actors and having multiple action set pieces happening at the same time. Instead of the protagonist being a group of hoodlums, they’ll just be grown white men in underwear. It’s early in the screenwriting stages too, hell they should have Cornish co-write the thing, or even rewrite it. I’d like to see him be able to adapt his own work. The only issue is that Mr. Cornish isn’t primarily a director, he’s a comedian, but when has that profession ever been for the faint of heart. Comedians are directing and writing stuff all the time and stealing jobs from the rest of us cause they’re so god damn good at what they do.

1. Alex Proyas

This guy’s been in the business for years, he knows what he’s doing, and he does dark well. Dark City, and The Crow are each genre films. Proyas does an excellent job of selling that to the audience by not bashing the supernatural elements on the head. He has no need to explain any reasons of why, he simply tells the story within the universe it exists. For a film that is going to be taking these characters from implied independent universes and pumping them into one film ain’t gonna be easy. Proyas might not even both with explaining to the fan boys, he might just tell it as it is. I once thought he was the future of science fiction, but he proved to be more the future of the comic book film. Both The Crow and Dark City have a glaze over them like the frame was ripped from the page of a graphic novel. The color palate is meant to evoke that sense with the careful balance of grays, whites, and blacks, iced usually with some heavy rain. Most of the directors on this list are fairly young and I think that decision was taken on my behalf because well it is a young mans game and most likely a younger guy will be put behind the lens.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Simplex

    Kick-ass post! It would be great if the execs would lose their mind and go with someone completely unexpected, like Ki-duk Kim. I would religiously watch that film! RELIGIOUSLY!

  2. David Tatlow

    I knew this was going to be good when I saw you’d listed 12. Lots to think about here. I’d like to see Joe Cornish get a big chance, I too really enjoyed Attack the Block. Zack Snyder, for me, did a great job with a very difficult task in Watchmen, so I wouldn’t say no to him either.

  3. Taylor Ramsey

    I would have never thought of Proyas, but now I cannot think of anyone else. Good choice.
    If MoS is a success, Snyder is the most likely, or at least the first name to cross the table. If MoS fails, it may not matter. That movie is a make or break affair. But I am hopeful.

  4. Mike G

    I would love to see what Joe Cornish could do with a huge tentpole film. Attack the Block was brilliant! But WB will most likely go with a safe choice. As to who that is, I’m not sure.

  5. Jordan

    What a great article 😀 thanks for posting it

  6. Reading this article in 2022 is hilarious.

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