Warner Bros. and DC are nearly done assembling a team of directors to oversee their DC Extended Universe – the shared DC movie universe that was established by Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel in 2013 – on through to 2018. WB/DC is taking a so-called “filmmaker-driven” approach to building the DCEU, which is why it’s fitting that the filmmakers currently onboard for big screen DC Comics adaptations are all experienced industry veterans; including Snyder, David Ayer (Fury), Patty Jenkins (Monster), and James Wan (Furious 7).
However, the studio is now shaking things up a bit with The Flash, its 2018 film release that will be anchored by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) in the role of Barry Allen. WB/DC has now reportedly entered negotiations with screenwriter/author Seth Grahame-Smith to make the project his feature-length film directorial debut.
THR has the exclusive on Grahame-Smith being in talks to both write and direct The Flash, based on a story treatment that was put together by Jump Street and LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The latter pair of filmmakers were, at one point, considering helming The Flash themselves, but have since committed to directing a young Han Solo movie for Disney/Lucasfilm – a project that’s also scheduled for arrival in 2018, like Miller’s solo DC superhero adventure.
Grahame-Smith, who has previously directed episodes of the TV show The Hard Times of RJ Berger, made the jump from author and TV show writer to movie screenwriter in 2012, with his scripts for Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (which WB distributed) and Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (based on Grahame-Smith’s novel of the same name). Both movies earned a middling reception on the whole, but ended up turning a profit at the worldwide box office all the same.
Grahame-Smith was then hired to put together a version of Beetlejuice 2 for Burton and WB that could start filming in 2016; he also wrote the studio’s LEGO Batman movie now scheduled to reach theaters in 2017. In other words: Grahame-Smith has quickly become one of WB’s trusted collaborators, where it concerns the studio’s lucrative franchises and long-established intellectual properties.
Still, the lack of experience behind the camera on Grahame-Smith’s side does make it difficult to predict whether or not his involvement bodes well for The Flash; at the least, he’s not a filmmaker who has a clearly defined style, unlike the other candidates on WB/DC’s director roster (or Lord and Miller for that matter). Then again, if there’s any one Justice League member solo movie that should deviate from the “edgy” style of other DC films, it’s The Flash – and a comparatively playful superhero flick is exactly what Grahame-Smith seems most likely to deliver with his first big-budget movie directing job.
Case in point: when you look at Grahame-Smith’s current writing resume, you see he has a knack for combining superhero-esque action with tongue in cheek humor (see also his Pride and Prejudice and Zombies novel), and has a proven talent for telling coming of age stories, with his work on The Hard Times of RJ Berger. All three of those ingredients should be called for in a Barry Allen solo movie narrative (much like they figure into The CW’s Flash TV series), so Grahame-Smith seems qualified to take on The Flash in that respect.
As for the quality of his work – it’s true that Grahame-Smith has yet to work on a widely-acclaimed feature film, as screenwriter. He’s clearly on a learning curve as a storyteller, though; and if the Russo brothers can go from directing You, Me and Dupree to making Captain America: The Winter Soldier some years later, there’s hope yet for Grahame-Smith to impress the masses with a big screen version of The Flash.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern Corpson June 19th, 2020. Untitled Batman and Superman solo films will be coming at dates TBD.