Marvel Studios and Sony shocked the geek community worldwide with the recent announcement that the two studios had reached an agreement to bring Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a shared character. In the time since the announcement, there has been a lot of speculation about the finer details required to port Spidey over to the Avengers continuity, including whether the character would be rebooted; the likelihood (or not) of Andrew Garfield keeping the role; which new young actors could take over the part; and more recently, whether MCU Spidey will be Peter Parker, or even retain the same ethnicity.
Well, add to that list another looming question: which director will take over the Spider-Man movie franchise going forward?
The Amazing Spider-Man reboot films were both helmed by Marc Webb, whose previous big credit was (500) Days of Summer. While he showed some improved filmmaking approaches to things like Spidey’s unique combat style – or Peter Parker’s trademark combination of science prowess and smack-talk – between Webb’s inexperience with tentpoles and the studio’s demands, what we got were essentially two mixed-bag Spider-Man films (still waiting on that ‘untold story…’).
In order to avoid mistakes of the past and help get the franchise back in the proper swing of things, Marvel and Sony are going to have to choose very wisely when it comes to picking a director for the next Spider-Man film. Lucky for them, we have some great suggestions.
David Leitch & Chad Stahelski
They may not be the immediate names that come to fans’ minds, but stuntmen-turned-directors David Leitch & Chad Stahelski’s debut film John Wick is slowly and surely carving out a cult-hit reputation for itself. The movie brought back Matrix star Keanu Reeves for a dark and violent Noir action flick – one that many said felt like a comic book brought to life onscreen in wonderfully proper balance.
As two of the leading stuntmen in the business – with a combined resume that includes 300, V for Vendetta, The Matrix Trilogy, Constantine, Wolverine, Iron Man 2, Hunger Games, The Bourne Series, Jumper, Underworld: Evolution, Daredevil (2003), and… Spider-Man 2 – these two gentlemen are already within the inner circle of minds (and bodies) that bring these superhero movies to life. Like The Russo Brothers, they are a sharp pair of creative minds with loads of humble work experience in the industry.
What’s more: John Wick showed that the pair definitely know how to create a compelling world and mythos around an iconic (and acrobatic) central character. Maybe it’s time we traded CGI Spidey for some good ol’ fashioned expert stuntmen in motion capture.
Drew Goddard has written a lot of hit genre films and TV shows of the new millennium (Buffy, Angel, Cloverfield, Lost, World War Z) and he followed pal Joss Whedon’s path to the big screen, directing the horror satire Cabin in the Woods.
Goddard was previously slated for a director’s chair in the Spider-Man movie universe; as of now, his Sinister Six villain movie is rumored to be defunct, but that doesn’t mean that a talent like Goddard’s need be thrown out with the muddied bathwater.
If Joss Whedon could jump in the deep end and still turn The Avengers into a billion-dollar success story, Goddard could likely do the same for Spider-Man, bringing wit, smart insight and genuine fan charm to the property. Best of all, as the director of Sinister Six and the producer/writer of the Daredevil Netflix series, Goddard is already a perfect bridge between Marvel and Sony.
We can’t discuss the possibility of bringing in Drew Goddard to direct the MCU Spider-Man movie without also bringing up his bud – and proven Marvel movie architect – Joss Whedon.
The fact is, after Avengers 2, Whedon’s directorial obligations in the MCU are done. Here’s what he said about the matter, when asked if he’d be taking on Avengers: Infinity War after Age of Ultron:
“I couldn’t imagine doing this again. It’s enormously hard, and it [will] be, by [the time I would make ‘Avengers 3 & 4’], a good five years since I created anything that was completely my own. So it’s very doubtful that I would take on the two-part Infinity War movie that would eat up the next four years of my life. I obviously still want to be a part of the Marvel Universe – I love these guys – but it ain’t easy. This year has been more like running three shows than any year of my life. It is bonkers.”
The fatigue that comes with being part of the never-ending Marvel movie machine is something we’ve long kept eye on, and it’s clear Whedon has become creatively exhausted from it. However, Joss is a true-blue fan, first and foremost, so even in his exhaustion he still wants to be a part of the MCU. Maybe Spider-Man is the character to rekindle his passion?
Bottom line: Whedon has the humor, insight – and now plenty of blockbuster experience – underneath him, which gives him an edge over Goddard. BONUS: Whedon would also excel at introducing more badass female characters like Black Cat, Silver Sable, or Spider-Girl/Woman into the Spider-Man movie world.
The man who first brought Jason Bourne to the big screen has been humbly putting out cult-hit, high-concept genre films for a decade now. Few expected (or probably even know) that the man who gave us ’90s cult-hits like Swingers and Go – or the pilot episode of The O.C. – would graduate to the likes of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Jumper, and most recently, Edge of Tomorrow. It gets even deeper than that: Liman is also a TV producer behind cult-hit shows like Suits and Covert Affairs.
With that kind of resume – and a recent film that proves he’s on top of his directorial game right now – maybe Liman deserves a project that will make his name a household one. Marvel has been smart about taking solid talent and giving them that next-level opportunity (see: James Gunn and The Russo Brothers in 2014), and Liman is the epitome of solid talent poised for a bigger breakout.
This new Spider-Man movie will also be an important test of studio cooperation, so maybe it’s not crazy to hire a ship captain who is so steady, he made a hit film while also successfully navigating the Brad-Jen-Angelina love scandal. That’s focus and reliability you can’t put a price tag on.
The Wachowskis remain fan-favorite filmmakers to this day – even as the achievements of The Matrix Trilogy fade with each passing year and each critically/commercially disappointing film they subsequently put out. But for all the criticisms and claims of lost talent, there are a lot of people (us included) who want to see Andy and Lana bounce back in a big way.
After the strange odyssey that was Jupiter Ascending, one point of general consensus has been that The Wachowskis may do well pausing on their traditional approach of both writing and directing their works. Instead, allowing these clearly exceptional visual filmmakers to realize someone else’s vision would likely work out awesomely for all parties involved. A Spider-Man movie written by Drew Goddard and directed by The Wachowskis would be a match in heaven.
If we want a truly innovative and new approach to a Spider-Man movie – one that could incorporate a lot more epic and fantastical elements of the MCU – then The Wachowskis are two of the very few who could truly deliver that. Marvel might want to mull that over before Warner Bros. decides to fold the siblings into the DC Movie Universe. “The Wachowskis’ Martian Manhunter“ has a nice ring to it…
Jon Favreau – The Marvel movie machine is now operating at much smoother and efficient capacity; “true fan” creative talent (James Gunn) is being given more leeway; and the man who kicked off the entire MCU has recharged his batteries making smaller fare like last year’s acclaimed film, Chef. Favreau never got a shot at that first Avengers movie like he wanted; however, Spider-Man seems like it could be a nice (and fitting) consolation prize.
*Guillermo del Toro – Look, Spider-Man is one character that embraces the light-hearted and fantastical end of the comic book spectrum, with colorful villains and a fun, cheeky tone. Who creates better, more colorful or more fantastical worlds (complete with fantastical creatures) than del Toro? Too bad he has Pacific Rim 2 coming out in the same year as the new Spider-Man movie (2017) – but maybe he can serve as a creative advisor?
Shawn Levy – Another all-around solid director, Levy’s wide variety – Night at the Museum Trilogy, Real Steel, The Internship, This Is Where I Leave You – actually contains all the right components for a funny, family-friendly, light dramedy-style Spider-Man movie that has a classic action-adventure feel. In other words: this is a good company man for a Marvel-brand company film.
Gareth Evans – Sticking with the same logic that made us nominate David Leitch & Chad Stahelski, the director behind The Raid series scored a big milestone win for action flicks, before Leitch and Stahelski arguably had to reclaim some of Hollywood’s action clout. If we want a more practical, stunt-based Spider-Man film with innovative sequences and battles, then Evans (and his Indonesian martial arts stunt team) may be primed and ready to deliver that experience.
Alejandro González Iñárritu – As a crazy, out-of-the-box mention, we’ll toss out the recent Oscar-winner behind Birdman. Granted, it would be (ironic? Hypocritical?) of the man behind scathing commentary on superhero films to take on a huge superhero tentpole for not one, but two big studios. However, Iñárritu has proven that he is a master of interweaving multiple storylines and characters, and this new Spider-Man movie (in a bigger MCU sandbox) could potentially benefit from that skill. PLUS, if it ends up being the Miles Morales Spidey in the MCU, this would be a fitting pairing.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Spider-Man on July 28, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 on May 4 2018, Black Panther on July 6 2018, Captain Marvel on November 2 2018, Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 on May 3 2019 and Inhumans on July 12, 2019.