The DC universe kicked into high gear last week with Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, and to say it had mixed reviews would be an understatement. The Zack Snyder-helmed film was marketed for months and had everyone jumping up and down in anticipation. Unfortunately, for many, it fell flat and left either extremely underwhelmed or simply bored. The universe’s introduction has had a lot of fans worried about the future of this potential franchise. With Snyder directing both Justice League Part One and Two, there has been a lot of hesitation on the part of otherwise hyper-excited fans.
These potential directors have all had great films on their resumes and are more than ready to tackle a comic book film of some kind. While some are already highly popular, others have only one or two films to their name (all of them great, though). While we mainly have our foot in reality, we understand some of these choices may not be possible, but we can certainly dream, right?
Here are 15 Directors We Want to See in the DC Universe.
15. Gareth Evans
If there is one person who has been consistently screwed over in Hollywood, it’s Gareth Evans. After premiering at Sundance, his action series called The Raid: Redemption won multiple awards and scored decent money at the box office. Some have even called it one of the best action films in years, and yet he still hasn’t had any opportunities to direct big American blockbusters. What made The Raid so fun was how straight forward it was. Starring martial artists, it had action upon action without taking itself too seriously. It was solid for what it was and people applauded him for the effort. Unfortunately, the movie theaters weren’t so nice to him and quickly booted out his films because of the lack of income (thankfully not without gaining $4 million nationwide).
If Evans were given an American blockbuster to take on, the DC universe would be a good place to start. The best film for him to take on would definitely be one based in the gritty world of Gotham City, be it a spinoff of some sort or even the Caped Crusader’s next solo film. That would guarantee plenty of action for the fans to enjoy without much drag, and tonally, Evans is a great fit for Gotham.
14. J.J Abrams
Out of the other names on this list, J.J Abrams is probably one of the most known and diverse. First getting his start on television, he co-created the immensely popular show, Lost, and followed it up with the equally great Fringe. It wasn’t until 2006 that he started directing movies, getting his start with Mission Impossible 3.
Abrams is fresh off of helming one of the most profitable movies of all time in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which brought old and new fans together and created a true cinematic delight. And with the last two Star Trek films under his belt as well, he certainly has the experience to take on a superhero film. Instead of taking the dark route, Abrams would make any DC movie a delightful adventure as if it were a Marvel film. And since he won’t be directing Episode VIII, it would be a perfect time to take one on. He’s definitely considered a safe choice and the film will most likely be a bit on the predictable side, but at least we’re guaranteed an entertaining two hours. And he’s even promised that he’ll be toning down the lens flares from here on out!
13. Matthew Vaughn
Matthew Vaughn has already established himself as a comic book film guru. In 2010, his R-rated film, Kick-Ass, quickly gained a cult following through its use of cartoonish violence and profanity, and his most recent effort, Kingsman: Secret Service, was a light-hearted, bloodier take on the spy genre (and also a bit of a James Bond parody).
While his style might seem to be suited for Marvel films, his presence in the DC universe could open the way for much more “fun” films. With the trend that his comic book films follow, he could easily create something as entertaining as Deadpool was. While Man of Steel and Batman V Superman definitely are entertaining, they sometimes forget that they are based off of comic books and take themselves way too seriously. If Vaughn was in charge of an R-rated sequel to Suicide Squad or even a Harley Quinn film, then we would be in for a funny and bloody good time.
12. Matt Reeves
Haven’t heard of Matt Reeves before? You’ll most likely know him by the films he’s directed. He played around with monsters with Cloverfield in 2008 and moved onto apes with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014, with a wild take on the vampire genre (Let Me In) spruced in between. While first and third films developed more of a cult following, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of the biggest blockbuster hits of the summer. He combined action with drama and humanized Caesar instead of making him an anger-filled antagonist.
Reeves’ ability to take on a huge sequel and actually improve upon the first installment is no easy task, and he definitely deserves another opportunity at a blockbuster. Because he loves to use dark filters and gloomy atmospheres, perhaps he could take on a Jason Todd/Red Hood film. Todd’s tragic story could explore the close relationship between Batman and Robin, the Red Hood’s eventual insanity, and the reason why Ben Affleck’s Batman is such a glum guy.
11. Lynne Ramsay
Lynne Ramsay may have only directed one film, but she managed to make her star Ezra Miller (the Flash of the DCEU) such a menacing villain that she would seemingly be able to take on any DC baddie. Her film We Need to Talk About Kevin did an incredible job of blending familial and evil elements together for a thoroughly satisfying (and thrilling) drama, as it fueled the fires of the nature vs. nurture debate.
It would interesting to see what she could do with any of the Batman villains, especially the Joker or Riddler. Both of those two have such complicated backgrounds that leave a lot to be explored. People may not be too fond of the idea, but a Joker origin story would be fascinating under her watch. His lack of a solidly-defined past leaves a lot a wiggle room for a creator like Ramsay to work with, and it could give Warner Brothers a chance to dive into the heads of comic books’ most disturbing individual — but only if it has an R-rating. We’ll pass on a Crown Prince of Crime origin story that can’t ditch the training wheels.
10. Lexi Alexander
Alexander became the first (and so far only) woman to direct a comic book film when she took on Punisher: War Zone back in 2008. Now we can all agree that War Zone wasn’t a great movie, but it still showed some serious potential from Alexander. If Ben Affleck and Ryan Reynolds can get a second chance at being a superhero, then Alexander surely can get another chance to helm a comic book film.
Out of the many directors out there today, she sure knows dark and gritty, and can certainly apply those elements to a Birds of Prey adaptation. Birds of Prey is about a team of female superheroes that go on special missions across the world. It originally started with Black Canary and Oracle, but eventually grew with rotating team members throughout the years. While we have yet to see what Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman will be like, there haven’t been many great representations of female superheroes. Seeing Black Canary and Oracle as the main characters would be a refreshing and different path for Warner Brothers. Alexander has experience in the comic book genre (she’s also helmed episodes of Arrow and Supergirl in the past, and she’s even a former world champion in karate. We’re very interested in watching her helm a fight seen where the ladies truly take charge for once.
9. Alfonso Cuaron
Alfonso Cuaron has proven that he can make fun science fiction adventures while also keeping quality storylines intact. His genres go across the board, from fantasy to science fiction to erotic drama. Both of his sci-fi films, Children of Men and Gravity, have been nominated for Oscars and show that there are stories behind the CGI. While he hasn’t been in the superhero conversation at any point (that we know of), Cuaron was heavily rumored to be directing Star Wars: Episode VIII, a franchise that’s just as big (if not bigger).
Well now that Rian Johnson has taken the position, that frees up Cuaron’s schedule quite a bit. He would be a perfect addition to the universe so that we get an epic space adventure, perhaps on the same level as Guardians of the Galaxy. Taking on a Martian Manhunter film would be a great place to start. Assuming he can bring longtime collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki along as his cinematographer, the look of Mars and outer space as a whole would be breathtaking under the pair’s steady direction.
8. Guillermo Del Toro
Del Toro always seems to have fantastic ideas, but never can get the approval of the studios. Marvel even once rejected his and Neil Gaiman’s Dr. Strange adaptation. Recently, Del Toro was set to direct an adaptation of Justice League Dark, and was about to dive into it until Pacific Rim 2’s filming was going to interfere. And now that Pacific Rim 2 is going to a different director, that means that Del Toro now has the time to commit to a dark, twisted take on the DC Universe.
Even though Justice League will be hitting the big screens in 2017, Justice League Dark still has so many characters to explore (such as John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, and Zatanna) in a film that will surely appeal to fans of grim premises. Or if he wants to go down the mystical route, he could always do an adaptation of The Sandman. Many think that Neil Gaiman’s comic is unfilmable, but we’ve seen what Del Toro can do with fantastical elements, and he might be the one to prove everybody wrong.
7. Kathryn Bigelow
When people are asked to name a female director, Kathryn Bigelow will often be the first person they think of. She’s not only one of the few female directors actually getting work, but she’s the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director (after going up for the award against her ex-husband James Cameron). A lot of people’s arguments for women’s lack of directing opportunities in comic books is that they’re not experienced with the action genre. Well, the studios have no excuse with Bigelow, because her award-winning film, The Hurt Locker, is pretty well grounded in explosions and war. And not only has she directed a war film, but she has also dabbled in the science fiction genre with her little known film Strange Days.
What both of these films have in common is not only the action scenes, but also the deconstruction of masculine tropes which would do great in a female-led comic book film. If Jeremy Renner, who got noticed in The Hurt Locker, could become a Marvel superhero, it makes sense that Bigelow would have the same opportunity in the genre.
6. Ana Lily Amirpour
Ana Lily Amirpour took a different spin on the vampire genre with her 2014 film, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. The movie is a mixture of horror and romance, featuring a lead vampire that can be scary and lovable at the same time. And though A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is her first film, Amirpour has proven that she doesn’t like to play it safe. She would be a great addition to the DC Universe because she would not only film a female perspective, but she could also create a hero with true depth.
A great example would be an adaptation of Raven, a well-known member of the Teen Titans. Raven has quite the mysterious past, whether it has to do with her parentage or when she became possessed. Amirpour’s style could be a great match with the overall tone of the film and make for a really cool story, especially if she tackles the mysticism involved.
5. Drew Goddard
One of the creators of the popular Marvel television series, Daredevil, Drew Goddard has been talked about quite a bit in the film industry nowadays. Not only has he made the previously tainted (sorry, Ben Affleck) hero great again, but he also wrote the Oscar-nominated film The Martian. Even though his talents predominantly lie in the world of writing, people keep wondering when he’s going to step back into the director’s chair after his debut film Cabin in teh Woods sent up the horror genre in spectacular fashion.
Apparently, he was was supposed to direct the World War Z sequel, but that’s currently stuck in development hell. In the meantime, he has started writing the script for the new Marvel film, The Sinister Six, but how about directing a superhero film instead? Since he already has a lot of experience writing about comic books, then there’s no reason why he wouldn’t know how to direct them. There’s been a lot of speculation on what sort of film he should direct, whether it be an ensemble film or one superhero. Honestly, with his resume, he would thrive on any sort of project and make it his own, no matter the tone or subject.
4. Jeff Nichols
Jeff Nichols is only a bit more experienced than Goddard, with only three films under his belt. However, those films have gained the respect of critics and independent film lovers alike. His films may be a little bit on the slower side, but his characters have so much depth that it’s hard to not become completely invested in their journey, a feat not so easily accomplished nowadays. His most recent film, Midnight Special, proves that he can take on the science fiction genre without all of the cliche tropes that come with it. The film plays like a superhero origin story with Roy (Michael Shannon) on the run to protect his son, who possesses some sort of mysterious powers. Nichols purposely makes the film an ambiguous adventure, so he doesn’t have to answer any obvious questions, thus letting the audience come up with their own interpretations.
If he led, say a Teen Titans film, he would most likely focus on the kids’ present journeys rather than their past. Since his films have often revolved around children or family, Teen Titans would be familiar territory to Nichols. Teenagers living with superpowers hasn’t really been explored on the big screen, except with perhaps the X-Men universe. Nichols could easily go down either the bleak or inspiring route for the team. Either way, it would be a very different kind of coming of age story, one we’d love to see.
3. Alex Garland
Continuing our trend of up and coming directors is Alex Garland, who first rose to fame in the ’90s with his novel, The Beach — a travel novel following a young backpacker’s search for a legendary beach. The book gained a great deal of critical acclaim and, of course, a film adaptation, one helmed by Danny Boyle and starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio. That success then propelled him into screenwriting.
Even if they weren’t huge box office hits, Garland has written some truly awesome science fiction flicks, such as Dredd and 28 Days Later. He made his directorial debut last year with Ex Machina — a beautiful film about the complicated morality of creating Artificial Intelligence — which made him the talk of Tinseltown among science fiction buffs. In fact, a lot of fans were strongly advocating for Garland to be a director for one of the new Star Wars movies. Even though he’s already dabbled with the AI genre, putting him in charge of the upcoming Cyborg movie (currently due out in April 2020) would definitely fit his style. Not only would he make the origin story interesting, but Garland would have us invested in his character. Not many people know about Cyborg (unless it has to do with Teen Titans) and Garland would be the perfect guy to introduce him to a wider audience.
2. George Miller
Well this one is sort of a no brainer, isn’t it? Not nearly as many people knew the name George Miller before 2015 (though how could anyone forget the man behind heartwarming tales like Babe and Happy Feet?) but the Oscar-winning Mad Max: Fury Road put him back on the map. While everyone was expecting a generic action film, Fury Road blew their expectations out of the water, with beautifully shot desert wasteland, complete with monster trucks, explosions, and a badass pair of A-List performers (Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron).
Now that we’ve been granted a taste of Miller action, we want more! Miller of course is no stranger to DC Comics, either. Eight years ago, he had signed on to direct Justice League: Mortal but production got shut down weeks before shooting was set to begin because of the writer’s strike and legal issues. Reportedly, Miller is signed on to produce Justice League: Part One, but we want more than that. For any of the future Justice League films, we feel he would be an excellent candidate to lead the way for DC.
1. Rian Johnson
He might be a little busy right now, but Rian Johnson is on the top of our list for a reason. While it was only a moderate success at the domestic box office, his first major motion picture — Looper — was widely praised by science fiction fans all over back in 2012. Besides directing a few episodes of Breaking Bad, he laid fairly low until last year, when it was announced that he was writing and directing Star Wars: Episode VIII. For a fairly green director to be tasked with such a big project is a huge deal, and it helped that J.J Abrams said that he wished he was directed Johnson’s script. Now, everyone won’t stop talking about him.
Even though his directing is solid, his screenwriting skills are what stands out about him. The plot is always coherent and suspenseful, not relying on any cheap tricks to drive things forward. The characters are consistently the focus of each scene, with plenty of sharp dialogue to go around. This is especially apparent in his Breaking Bad episode, Ozymandias, which is frequently referred to as one of the best in the series. If Johnson were to snag a comic book film, the DC universe would be perfect fit for him, especially a John Constantine film. Even though he hasn’t dealt with the occult, his time tackling multiple genres shows that he is capable of expanding his range to different projects. Creating Constantine’s sarcastic yet compassionate attitude might be a challenge, but Johnson’s ability to create insanely compelling leads — such as Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis’ characters in Looper — proves that we’d be in for a treat if he were to land a gig at DC. Make it happen, Warner Bros.
What do you think of our collection of directors? Did we leave out any can’t miss favorites? Let us hear all about it in the comments section!