Since it was announced that Jon Favreau is not directing Iron Man 3, you’ve probably seen a lot of lists popping up on sites tossing out this name or that name as a possible candidate to replace Favs. And while those lists are pretty nice in terms of their ambitious hopes, at the same time, a lot of them simply aren’t realistic. (Sorry guys, but James Cameron isn’t likely to bring his Avatar technology over to Marvel Studios for a play date.)

Today, (at the risk of much ridicule) I want to pitch a quick list of directors who I think might actually stand a chance at landing the job of directing Iron Man 3. Take a look and see if you agree:

Jon Favreau recently went on record to talk about why he left Iron Man 3. Although publicly Favs is taking the high road, leaving all bridges between him and Disney/Marvel intact, the rumor mill has been churning out reasons ranging from behind-the-scenes friction during the making of Iron Man 2, to Favs being put off by  the creatively limiting nature of Marvel’s shared movie continuity universe. Favreau (it’s being said) wasn’t ready to simply go from being the unique and innovative guy behind such standout films as Swingers, Zathura, Elf, and the first Iron Man, to falling in line lock-step behind Disney/Marvel while they execute their master plan for a huge multi-movie cinematic franchise.

jon favreau iron man mark 1 Potential Iron Man 3 Directors (Who May Actually Get The Job)

To some degree it’s an understandable situation: Marvel can’t expect this shared movie universe to ever hold together if the directors involved rock the boat with such attitudes as wanting to take creative risks, or explore smaller, more isolated aspects of their respective characters (that’s more a DC movie thing…).

In fact, when you think about the strict creative streamlining in conjunction with the desired financial gains, this Marvel movie universe may be the greatest marriage of Communism and Capitalism to date! (I kid, I kid Marvel and the politically-sensitive readers!)


Seriously though, Marvel is likely to be very strict and focused with their choice of a director to take over the Iron Man franchise. We know Marvel Studios already has a five-year movie plan in the works, and all the cogs in the machine need to keep turning smoothly for them to build their universe as planned. Their choice of a new director for Iron Man 3 will need to almost certainly be somebody who meets the following criteria:

  • Not too expensive – Someone moderately priced and properly experienced, but not so accomplished that they come with a purple-label price tag (forget James Cameron or Steven Spielberg).
  • Completely able…to follow instructions – The new Iron Man 3 director has to be a compitent and able filmmaker, yes, but not someone so eccentric, independent-minded or powerful that they won’t follow the blueprint Marvel is sketching for their movie universe.
  • Available in 2012 Iron Man 3 hits theaters in May 2013 (presumably in 3D) so the director needs to have room in his/her 2012 schedule to take the job. Of course, there are a fair number of directors who would gladly drop whatever they are doing for a crack at Iron Man.

Once you understand the criteria, the list of fan-nominated directors who might actually get the Iron Man 3 job gets cut down drastically. What we’re left with are names like those I’m about to pitch to you now: we’ve also included a few wildcard picks at the end, just for the heck of it.

NOTE: This is NOT our wish list of directors Iron Man 3 – it is simply a list of those directors we think could actually get the job.

Continue to our list of potential Iron Man 3 directors…


Peter Berg – Berg has put out some solid films in the last few years (The Kingdom, Hancock) and if word about his upcoming sci-fi/action film adaptation of Battleship is strong, by 2012 he’ll be in a good position to make another big studio project. If his Entourage cameo has any bearing on his real life, Berg is a working man who prefers to cut the B.S. and get the job done when it comes to making movies. I know Marvel would appreciate that.

Brad Bird – He helped Pixar’s rise to greatness by writing and/or directing some of their best films (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and now he’s making the jump to live-action, directing the highly-anticipated Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Bird seems like a visionary guy who gets story – and most importantly, he knows how to both move and entertain audiences. The Incredibles made a lot of superhero movies look like child’s play – why wouldn’t Bird be able to deliver a good Iron Man 3?

Joe Carnahan – Depending on where Marvel is with their post-Avengers continuity, Iron Man 3 could find Tony Stark in a much more complicated, gritty world than where he started off.  If you’ve seen Narc you know Carnahan is a guy who knows grit, and he successfully added a dimension of fun to his palette with The A-Team this year. An Iron Man movie that plays like the end of Smoking Aces? I’d see it!

Rubin Fleischer Zombieland was a really good time, and most people thought that Fleischer blended so many genres – horror, comedy, action, rom-coms – together into something truly fresh and fun. If he can replace “horror” with “sci-fi” then I think Fleischer is capable of cooking up a tasty batch of Iron Man 3. Also, if I had to point to the most “Favreauesque” director on this list, Fleischer would be it.

Joseph Kosinski – This guy had enough clout for Disney to invest one of its most ambitious multi-media franchises in his vision of the Tron universe. The box office receipts are still being counted, but so far it looks like Kosinski may have done good by the Mouse House. If he does really good, he may be tied up in the Tron grid for the next few sequels (read: years) – but if he only does kind of good then who knows, maybe instead of a demotion Kosinski will be “transferred” to a less financially risky property…say, Iron Man?


Shawn Levy – This is my personal pick – not out of any desire, but simply intuition. Levy has been turning in a lot of solid  movies that make good money – Night at the Museum(s), Date Night – and his upcoming robot battle flick Real Steel is holding a slim margin of favor right now, I’d measure. If Steel and Levy’s other upcoming projects – How to Talk to Girls, The Hardy Boys – turn out well, he’ll be a firmly established name in the primary demographics Marvel likes to court – just in time to take over the reigns of Iron Man.

Greg Mottola – If you want to maintain the humor and lighthearted scampery of the Iron Man series (especially if Robert Downey Jr. is still involved), then a guy with good comedic sensibilities isn’t a bad pick. Superbad managed to be funny and loose within a tight narrative frame, and Mottola’s new film, the sci-fi/comedy Paul, looks to follow suit. If we could go back to that mischievous-but-purposed feel of Iron Man 1, I think we’d all be happier people. Mottola could be the man to take us there.

Matt Reeves – The director of Cloverfield and Let Me In is a good example of someone who has unique vision but is still looking for that big breakout opportunity. His writing credits are a plus and he’s seemingly a level-headed guy who turns in solid work on time and intact. With only Cloverfield 2 occupying his immediate future, Reeves has potential for landing the Iron Man 3 gig.


Louis Letterrier – Is this one any surprise? Like Brett Ratner, Letterrier has become that go-to guy when you want a solid action movie tentpole flick, but aren’t willing to pay premium prices for a spectacular one. Letterrier has also made it clear that since The Incredible Hulk he is down to keep playing in the Marvel Movie sandbox. Having him on Iron Man 3 wouldn’t be terrible…but it wouldn’t be awesome, either.

Brett Ratner – Hey, you never know. They say if a director’s chair is left vacant for too long in Hollywood, Ratner shall appear to fill it.


Carl Rinsch – The protege of Ridley Scott became famous for his imaginative sci-fi-themed commercials. He was suppossed to get his big break directing Scott’s Alien prequel, but Fox didn’t have the same faith in the young man that Sir Ridley did. Rinsch was given the remake of Logan’s Run to helm, but dropped that to focus on a 3D samurai epic called 47 Ronin. If Ronin looks to be a hit, maybe Marvel will learn from Fox’s mistake and give Rinsch the opportunity to bring his unique vision to a sci-fi-themed superhero like Iron Man.

David Slade – Another solid and dependable (but still affordable) director. He made 30 Days of Night a notable vampire flick and used those same talents to make Twilight: Eclipse the best entry in the franchise so far. Slade was also reportedly up for Wolverine 2 before it went to Darren Aronofsky, so maybe Iron Man 3 can be his consultation prize?

Joss Whedon – He’s already tackling the writing/directing duties on The Avengers (and re-writing Captain America as well). If Marvel feels confident handing him the big jobs, it’s a safe bet there’s nothing on the table that they won’t at least consider passing off to geek-guru Whedon.

Sylvain White – Like Reeves, White is a guy who is slowly but surely building a reputation for turning in solid work.  The Losers ultimately lost at the box office, but I think that had to do more with it being the lite version of A-Team and/or The Expendables rather than any fault on the director’s part. White would likely be happy to pay some dues working on a Marvel franchise, and could certainly handle the job.


Kathryn Bigelow – This pick comes from the Screen Rant staff bullpen: if you want somebody who could really bring forth that part of  the Iron Man mythos that speaks to politics, economics and the dangers of technology, then Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow would be the director for the job. Basically, what I’m saying is that if Iron Man 3 were to use the Iron Man: Extremis storyline as its basis, someone like Bigelow would be perfect for telling that story onscreen.

Edgar Wright Scott Pilgrim vs. The World may have been a letdown at the box office but it was certainly one of the most stylistically innovative and fun films of recent years. Wright is already working on the script for Marvel’s Ant-Man, and if he is not going to direct that film (as rumored) then maybe his talents as a director don’t have to go to complete waste? We hear there’s this guy named Iron Man who needs a cool, innovative and witty director…

Those are our picks for directors who might actually end up getting the job of directing Iron Man 3. Do you agree with the picks? Like to add any we missed?

Iron Man 3 will be in theaters on May 3, 2013