Francis Lawrence made the jump from music video director (he collaborated with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Green Day back during the early 2000s) to feature-length helmsman with Constantine, the Keanu Reeve-starring comic book movie adaptation that released in 2005. Now, almost a decade later, and not only is Lawrence more highly regarded than ever – thanks to his work on the Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire – but the comic book/superhero genre is now more popular and more respected for its artistic merits than ever it was before.
The Constantine movie is nowadays considered to be fairly middle of the road, as far as comic book films go, but it helped to popularize certain trends (see: credits scenes) and almost doubtlessly would’ve been better, had Lawrence made it today. Screen Rant Editor in Chief Kofi Outlaw got a chance to speak with Lawrence at the New York press junket for the director’s new release, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, and asked the filmmaker about whether he’d like to participate in the ongoing comic book/superhero cinema renaissance.
Screen Rant: I don’t think you get enough credit for how much you have affected the industry. And now we’re into this era where superhero movies are a huge thing. Of course you made Constantine almost 10 years ago now. I don’t think you get enough credit for how much that kind of influenced things, from the button scenes at the end, to kind of infusing more of a cinematic quality to telling these pulpy stories. Do you still have love for that genre after that experience? Would you ever return to it now that it’s kind of a very big thing?
Francis Lawrence: I don’t know. I have mixed feelings. There’s definitely some comic book movies that come out that I think are amazing. There’s definitely a lot of comic book movies that come out that are not. I do think that the world is a bit saturated. I saw some chart about the comic book movies that are sort of projected out to 2019 or 2020. It was like 50 of them or something like that.
At this point in the interview, our E-i-C Outlaw mentioned that it was us who posted the “40 + Superhero Movies in 6 Years” article that Lawrence was thinking of.
Francis Lawrence: That was you guys? OK. I mean that’s a little beyond saturation point for my taste. So that’s a tricky one for me. But the truth is I’m kind of all about stories. So if suddenly there is this amazing story and an amazing character and it was dealing with some relevant themes, sure I’d get involved again.
Lawrence has demonstrated a fair amount of versatility as a director, going from the supernatural horror procedural proceedings of Constantine to the post-apocalyptic survival drama and thrills of I Am Legend, before he made the surprising transition to the period romance/drama Water for Elephants and followed that with the blend of socially/politically-charged sci-fi drama and action that are the Hunger Games film sequels. Lawrence’s critical standing as a filmmaker has only gotten better, over the course of making those movies over the past decade.
Basically, Lawrence not only has the necessary range and background to tackle most any upcoming comic book/superhero movie, that doesn’t sound like a bad idea, either. Warner Bros. and DC seem to be interested in hiring established filmmakers for their upcoming Cinematic Universe, be it looking to Michelle MacLaren to direct Wonder Woman or recruiting James Wan to possibly helm a DC movie – could there be a place for Lawrence there?
If Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark script gets a green-light, that could even be the next best thing to the Constantine sequel that Lawrence never got to make (seeing as del Toro might have too much on his plate to direct himself). Just throwing that out there…
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part 1 opens in U.S. theaters on November 21st, 2014.