Zack Snyder may have launched the DC Extended Universe for Warner Bros. with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, though he won’t be leading the charge forever. Warner Bros.’ upcoming slate of DC Comics movies — which include Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and Aquaman, among others — will be led by various directors. One of those movies, The Flash, based on the iconic superhero of the same name and starring Ezra Miller in the titular role, was to be directed by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith. The movie was to be his directorial debut; however, he ended up dropping out of the project two weeks ago due to “creative differences.”
While The Flash doesn’t release in theaters for another two years (March 16, 2018 is set as the current release date), Warner Bros. needs to begin looking at other potential directors immediately. Superhero movies like The Flash tend to have long production cycles, and the studio has already booked release dates for all of its DC Comics movies from now through 2020. So if they want to maintain that schedule, they need to choose someone fast. But that doesn’t mean they need to choose just anyone. There is a vast array of visionary, imaginative, and successful directors in Hollywood. If Warner Bros. chooses wisely, The Flash just might be one of the most successful movies in their new shared universe.
Here are 15 Directors Who Could Direct The Flash.
15. Matt Reeves
Matt Reeves is one of those directors the common moviegoer has never heard of, a shame considering the fact that he is truly a master of his craft. Over the past decade, he has accomplished two feats that have become increasingly rare: make a sequel better than the first movie (especially a sequel to a movie he didn’t make) and put out three consecutive hits — Cloverfield, Let Me In, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
After co-creating Felicity with J.J. Abrams in the late-’90s, Reeves’ career took off when the cult-favorite Cloverfield released in 2008. At the time, the found-footage trend was at its peak and showing signs of fatigue, but Reeves’ use of the filming technique — which focused on audiences reliving the events rather than being shown what happened — was refreshing and captivating. His passion and unique vision were shown in the 2010 remake of Let The Right One In, Let Me In, a movie which Stephen King referred to as the best horror movie of the last 20 years.
But what really validates Reeves’ candidacy for directing The Flash is his work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He proved that he could create a blockbuster movie that not only wows audiences but involves them in the storyline. It’s that ability to balance spectacle with character development and story — and make it meaningful — that amazes. Reeves is a visionary, and Warner Bros. shouldn’t undervalue his skill of being able to enter a franchise and not only build on the narrative, but improve it.
14. Duncan Jones
Ever since Duncan Jones made a splash onto the scene with the incredible sci-fi film Moon in 2009, he’s been on a roll. The film, which stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut who experiences a personal crisis as he nears the end of his three-year-long mission on the Moon, was nominated for numerous awards and was hailed as being one of the greatest sci-fi films in years.
Jones followed up that success with another sci-fi movie, Source Code, except this time he focused on more action and thrill. Though both of Jones’ movies are science fiction, neither of them contains overly-grandiose action scenes. And that’s important to note. Audiences are, instead, drawn in by the human elements, by their story and how it affects the larger narrative.
Whether or not Jones continues this direction with his upcoming fantasy movie, Warcraft, based on the famous video game of the same name, is yet to be seen. However, it’s intriguing to think what Jones would be able to accomplish if he applied this level of storytelling to a DC Comics movie like The Flash — a character who has a far-reaching history (and future). Warcraft is quite possibly the riskiest bet of the 2016 summer movie season. If it’s a hit, you can be sure that Jones will quickly become one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.
13. Justin Lin
When it comes to The Flash, Justin Lin might be the perfect candidate to helm the project. He is, after all, the master of speed — having been responsible for soft rebooting the Fast & Furious franchise in 2009, after directing the franchise’s first and only spin-off, The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, in 2007.
Under his direction, Fast & Furious grew from being a fun street racing series to the global event franchise it is today. Lin managed to defy all odds with a franchise that should have died with its second installment. Instead, it got better and better — and bigger, in terms of both scale and box office gross. Much of that is due to Lin’s ability to keep the story grounded and consequential, no matter how ludicrous the plot may be.
Lin has since gone on to direct Star Trek Beyond, the third installment in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek series, which is releasing this July. He’s also in line to helm the follow-up to The Bourne Legacy, and may be even directing LeBron James in Space Jam 2. But there’s a good deal of uncertainty surrounding his next few projects, and he could always fit The Flash somewhere in between.
12. Lexi Alexander
Unlike virtually every other female director in Hollywood, comic book movies aren’t unfamiliar to Lexi Alexander. After directing the crime drama Green Street Hooligans in 2005, Alexander went on to direct the cult-favorite Punisher: War Zone in 2008, starring Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle.
Since then, she has directed episodes of Arrow and Supergirl, each one showcasing the three-dimensional traits of the series’ lead heroes, Green Arrow and Supergirl, respectively, as well as supporting characters, Captain Lance and J’onn J’onzz. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that supporting characters have stories, too, and Alexander likes to remind us of that.
Being the only female director in Hollywood (with the exception of Patty Jenkins now) that has considerable experience directing comic book adaptations is a big plus, so if Warner Bros. is looking for some experience behind the camera, she’s a great fit.
11. J.J. Abrams
What Dwayne Johnson is to franchises as an actor, J.J. Abrams is to franchises as a director. Ever since his directorial debut in 2007 with Mission: Impossible III, Abrams has become Hollywood’s franchise savior.
He has successfully revived the Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and Star Wars franchises, with each series being even bigger hits than the one before it. Therefore, the next logical step for Abrams, in terms of scale, would be for him to helm either a Marvel or DC Comics movie. And with his love for (lens) flare, The Flash is the perfect movie for him.
Plus, he’s a director who likes to use practical effects. So in a time when every superhero movie is brimming with CGI, it would be refreshing to see one, especially one about a guy with super-speed, use as many real props as possible.
10. Joe Cornish
The guy who brought us Attack the Block and co-wrote the original Ant-Man script with Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish is one of the most inventive directors on this list. If you’re a fan of Wright’s work, then you’ll definitely be a fan of Cornish’s, who even co-wrote the script for Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tin-Tin in 2011.
He has a thin resume, to say the least, but he directs with confidence and demonstrates a technique that is typically seen with seasoned blockbuster directors, not relative newcomers. Because of that, he was offered the directorial gig for Star Trek 3 but turned it down.
Cornish’s unique, exuberant vision can be seen in his previous works, but is perfectly exemplified in Attack the Block, which is a genuine, cult classic. It’s a movie that exhibits a harmonious blend of action, humor, and special effects — something The Flash movie would certainly need in abundance.
9. Jonathan Levine
The Flash is no ordinary character. He’s not Batman, he’s not Superman, he’s not a superhero the general public would know a ton about, and that is why Jonathan Levine is an ideal candidate to direct the movie. He has a history of taking strange and quirky ideas — like zombies who fall in love and become human again (Warm Bodies) — as well as serious ideas — like the struggle millions of people go through fighting cancer (50/50) — and turning them into movies mainstream audiences can enjoy.
While Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman split the fanbase apart, there is no denying mainstream audiences found the plot confounding. Without proper explanation, even the most loyal of comic book readers could have been confused. Levine may be able to alleviate some of that bewilderment with The Flash, a movie which will undoubtedly be a bit on the complicated side.
8. Adam Kane
It has become commonplace nowadays for TV directors to make the jump to the big screen by taking point on comic book adaptations and other types of blockbuster movies. A trend which seemingly began with J.J. Abrams directing Mission: Impossible III in 2007 has led to directors like Alan Taylor and the Russo brothers, who were known for directing episodes of Game of Thrones and Community, respectively, directing big-budget movies. If there’s anyone that deserves to make that jump next, it’s Adam Kane.
Kane got his start in Hollywood by serving as cinematographer on a number of films, like The Boondock Saints and Skinwalkers, before making the jump to TV directing. Since 2005, he has directed episodes of series such as Pushing Daisies, Supernatural, Heroes, Hannibal, and, most recently, Supergirl. With a resume like that, how have Marvel and DC not approached him yet?
7. Michel Gondry
Of all the potential directors on this list, Michel Gondry is the by far the most daring candidate. Some cinephiles will remember Gondry as being the guy who directed the absolutely wonderful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but comic book fans will remember him as being the guy who helmed the critically panned The Green Hornet, inexplicably starring Seth Rogen.
While The Green Hornet was a critical and commercial failure, Gondry was able to put out several uniquely handcrafted action sequences — ones that would fit thematically with a Flash movie. Interestingly, at the time of the movie’s release, Gondry was quite outspoken about The Green Hornet being less of his movie and more of Seth Rogen’s, who also co-wrote the script and served as executive producer. Perhaps, then, Gondry will be willing to take on another comic book movie, one that he would have a bit more creative control over.
6. Doug Liman
Doug Liman may not be a household name, but he is one of the most diversified directors in Hollywood, having been putting out hit after hit since his 1996 film, Swingers, which catapulted Liman, Jon Favreau, and Vince Vaughn into the spotlight. He followed up his success (which earned him MTV’s Best New Filmmaker award) with the 1999 cult classic Go, starring the likes of William Fichtner and Katie Holmes.
It was only after Go that he transitioned into action, a genre which he has excelled in, by launching the Bourne series in 2002 with The Bourne Identity, based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum. Though he didn’t direct the movie’s two sequels, he did serve as executive producer. Instead, he went on to direct Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper, Fair Game, and, finally, the highly-underrated Edge of Tomorrow.
While Liman is currently tapped to direct Gambit for Fox, script delays have allowed him to pursue other projects, like The Wall, Mena, and Edge of Tomorrow 2. He’s one of the busiest guys in Hollywood, though if production on Gambit is delayed any further, he could have a window to bring the Scarlet Speedster to life. Admittedly, this might be more wishful thinking than anything else.
5. Phil Lord and Chris Miller
In 2015, Warner Bros. brought Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the guys behind the Jump Street reboot and The LEGO Movie, onboard to write a treatment for The Flash. The duo was rumored to be mulling the thought of directing the movie, but ended up just sticking with scripting duties. Instead, they will be directing the Han Solo origin movie for Lucasfilm, with a script by the legendary Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan Kasdan.
Since Lord and Miller are directing the Han Solo movie, and writing both The LEGO Movie sequel and Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, both of which release in 2018, it’s unlikely they would be able to take on directorial duties for The Flash. However, they still deserve a spot on this list due to their initial involvement with the project and the fact that they’ve managed to take laughable ideas and turn them into critical and commercial successes. If they were available, they might just be perfect for this.
4. Matthew Vaughn
Over the years, Vaughn has made a name for himself directing several comic book adaptations, such as Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman: The Secret Service, as well as thrillers, comedies, and fantasy movies, such as Layer Cake and Stardust. However, he hasn’t worked with Marvel Studios or DC. And despite many of his movies sharing similar qualities, each one is distinctly different from the other.
Just like with Reeves and Abrams, Vaughn has proven to be capable of taking an established franchise and creating something refreshing and inventive; something large in scope but meticulous in detail.
Interestingly enough, last year it was heavily reported that Vaughn was in talks with 20th Century Fox to helm a Flash Gordon remake, based on the space adventurer comic series of the same name. Perhaps, instead, he’d consider making the jump from Marvel to DC and to direct a Flash movie.
3. Jennifer Yuh
Despite being employed by DreamWorks Animation, and therefore, practically unavailable to Warner Bros., Jennifer Yuh is still one of the most qualified filmmakers in Hollywood to helm The Flash movie. And here’s why: Kung Fu Panda.
She took an idea, about a panda who becomes a kung fu master and protects China, and turned it into one of the most successful animated franchises of all time. After initially serving as head of story on the first movie, DreamWorks promoted her to director for the sequel, which happened to also be her directorial debut.
While you may not know who she is, for two years, Yuh held one of the greatest honors in Hollywood history: directing the highest-grossing-female-directed movie of all time — Kung Fu Panda 2. She held the record until Disney’s 2013 movie, Frozen, knocked it out, which coincidentally was also an animated movie.
2. Brad Bird
If you watch a Spielberg or Abrams movie without knowing who the director is, there’s a high chance you can tell who made it after a few minutes. The same goes for Brad Bird. Having started his career as an animator, Bird quickly made the jump to directing and has been on a hot streak ever since.
In 1999, Bird made his debut with the universally acclaimed The Iron Giant, then moved on to direct The Incredibles and Ratatouille — two movies which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. After mastering animation, he hopped over to live-action and directed Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, the fourth and arguably best installment in the series.
While his latest feature, Tomorrowland, wasn’t as universally well-received as his previous movies were, his distinct direction was unmistakable. He has a knack for bringing magic to his movies, providing audiences with an uplifting experience all while maintaining a fun story. Bird is the definition of a visionary director at the height of his powers, and deserves a crack at making a live-action superhero movie.
1. Edgar Wright
Perhaps the best person in Hollywood to helm The Flash movie is Edgar Wright, who, for over a decade, was attached to direct Ant-Man for Marvel Studios, but famously dropped out of the project in 2014 due to the ambiguous presence of “creative differences.” With a lack of superhero movies on his resume, The Flash is the perfect opportunity for Wright to exercise his quirky creative muscles that comic book fans were denied when he left Ant-Man.
Wright’s distinctive filmmaking style, exemplified in movies like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and his “Cornetto Trilogy,” is exactly what The Flash movie needs.
He’s a visual storyteller who finds creative ways to display even the most mundane of scenes in an interesting fashion. And befitting the quick-footed main character, Wright’s editing style tends to have scenes transition rather quickly, almost like they’re “swooshing” together. But what really seals the deal for him being the optimal candidate is his leaked Ant-Man test footage from SDCC 2012. If you haven’t seen it, do so.
Who do you think should direct the Flash movie? Sound off in the comments section.