The Shortlist of Directors For Superman Reboot

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 24th, 2010 at 8:56 am,

superman man of steel directors The Shortlist of Directors For Superman Reboot

In July, rumors surfaced pointing towards Jonathan Nolan as the top candidate to direct the Superman reboot. Brother to the Godfather of the DC film universe, Christopher Nolan, Jonathan has been Chris’ writing partner for years and worked with him on bringing Batman to the masses in The Dark Knight and previously, with Memento and The Prestige. Since the Nolans would be working together on Superman: Man of Steel regardless, it was not difficult to believe that Jonathan could get his directorial debut with the help of his Hollywood-dominating brother.

Now comes word that Chris Nolan and producer Emma Thomas are in talks with a shortlist of directors for Superman and Jonathan is not one of them. The list includes five directors who all made a name for themselves with very recent buzz-worthy films and some hype-generating projects coming out soon.

According to Mike Fleming at Deadline, he’s learned that the following five directors make up the current short list for who may direct the next Superman movie for Warner Bros., DC Entertainment and Legendary Pictures:

  • Duncan Jones
  • Jonathan Liebesman
  • Matt Reeves
  • Tony Scott
  • Zack Snyder

It’s difficult to narrow down from five very worthy and talented directors, especially with each having made a mark in the industry and in the media recently with their latest works. Duncan Jones’ Moon made a big splash in 2009 and his upcoming Source Code could do the same, although I believe he is the least likely of the five choices. Jonathan Liebesman has the awesome-looking Battle: Los Angeles debuting next year after garnering positive buzz from their presentation at Comic-Con earlier this summer and he’s already been given the job of taking on Clash of the Titans 2 for Warner Bros. and Legendary. Again, I wouldn’t expect Liebesman is a top contender either.

For me, assuming the shortlist doesn’t go through several subtractions and additions, the choice comes down to Matt Reeves, Tony Scott and Zack Snyder. Reeves is making a mark with his two big directorial gigs, having brought us the successful Cloverfield under the wing of J.J. Abrams and now garnering high praise for his work on the Let Me In remake. Tony Scott brings the most experience and his train fetish to the table, but he’s a busy man with many projects in development.Funny enough, both Scott and Reeves were also on an earlier “shortlist” for the Wolverine 2 director’s chair.

Last but not least is my top pick in Zack Snyder. Snyder of course brought us the visually stunning 300, Watchmen and this week’s Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole for Warner Bros. and he has the respect and knowledge of the comics books. Along with having the geek community on his side and a distinct directorial style, Snyder has revealed in the past that he’d love to make an adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, the famous graphic novel that pits Superman against Batman.

Zack Snyder teaming up with Christopher and Jonathan Nolan? Yes, please.

Once we get the director in the place, the next major decision will be the selection of the lead star. Who will play Superman? Can it be the aged but fan-favorite Jon Hamm of Mad Men fame or will Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. go with the more sensible and obvious choice of a younger star who can carry the franchise for years to come?

Who do you want to helm Superman: Man of Steel?

Follow us on Twitter to tell us your thoughts @rob_keyes and @screenrant.

Source: Deadline

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  1. At least we can all agree on NOT LIEBESEMAN!!

  2. I too vote for Zack Synder. I believe he would provide us with a Nolan like take on Superman while keeping it within the Comic Book realm.

    300 was of course awesome and a big financial success but WATCHMEN was in my opinion even more breath taking. I believe Synder under Nolans direction with the right cast could do for SUPERMAN what Nolan did for TDK.

  3. Guys Please! I beg all of you to see the light. This Short List is RIDICULOUS! My God. And snyder is the front runner?? have you not seen Watchmen?? We need a good Film to put superman back on top after Singer destroyed the character. We dont need a bunch of Slow motion scenes with pretty art. C’mon guys. Why is snyder even on that list? Man, if these group of people are all that there is to choose from. I am opting out as of 9/24/10. I will not pay to watch it. Jeez man this is getting ridiculous..

  4. Not Zack Snyder. He ruined Watchmen.

    • I loved watchmen!!

      • Me too. I thought it was epic.

        • I liked it too.

          • @Deny, you hated watchmen? I cant see why… tell us why? At the end where Dr manhatten was blamed for exposions around the globe, when in the comics it was an alien instead? that doesnt ruin it, if all of a sudden they threw in an alien being that would be as bad as M. night shamalon (however its spelt)… If you read watchmen, yould know that it would be a 14 hour movie, so if they left some things out, so??? It was a great movie, and if you disagree because it wasnt 14 hours, or because they didnt have aliens at the last second where it would make little to no sense, youre ignorant… sorry to say, but thats how we all see you right now…

    • just how did he ruin it Deny??

    • How did he ruin it? It’s one of the most literal adaptations of a graphic novel, EVER.

      • First off, I like Watchmen, and I love Snyder’s work. And I’d be cool with him in the Superman chair, but there’s a lot about Watchmen that kinda sucked, and they were all Snyder’s doing.

        Biggest pet peeves about the movie for me were Snyder’s completely unironic music choices. I mean, 99 Luftballoons, Ride of the Valkyries, Sound of Silence?? Each and every one of those took me right out of the flick since it was obvious Snyder thought he was being clever when really, he wasn’t.

        Then there was Ozymandias. In the comic, you didn’t expect him to be the big bad. In the movie, it was clear from the minute he showed up on screen that he was evil. Matthew Goode deserves some of the blame here, to be sure, but Snyder still had a hand in it.

        And of course the constant slow-down, speed-up action scenes. These were hit or miss for me, personally.

        • I’m not seeing how the music effected the movie negatively. But that’s all subjective.

  5. Magnus, you gotta be mad to hate Watchmen. You shld call yourself Madness.

    • i didnt hate watchemn.. where did you get that from?

  6. Question to all of you who say you liked watchmen. What did you like about it? Besides how cool it looked…

    • Well I for one felt that the film was overall well put together, making smart choices to visually fill in blanks that might otherwise go overlooked in taking one of the smartest comic books ever written and converting it into a film. By this I do not mean the visuals and effects themselves, though these too were spot-on. I mean building a full experience that goes as far as to evoke the emotions required to capture certain scenes. The songs selected for the soundtrack helped this, for example.

      • I thought the casting was brillant for the male leads. I wasn’t fully sold on Malin Akerman but she was hot. I loved the visuals, I know a lot folks say that but the opening scenes hooked me because the way Synder moved from one scene to another setting up the alternate reality. I found it tense centering around this nuclear war feeling and the ending caught me by total surprise.

        BTW, I have never read Watchmen and may get around to it but the movie was really good and I like literal translations from the graphic novel. I never understand why some comic movies don’t use the material like Synder does because the artist in the book do such an amazing job tryingt to tell the story that it’s ridiculous not to use it.

  7. a lot of people seem to want Snyder based on Watchmen (which sucked IMO, can’t figure out why we’d want to repeat it)

    Love Watchmen or hate Watchmen, just remember that SUPERMAN is NOT WATCHMEN

    Snyder’s MO on graphic novels is translating page by page to film (for the most part) and adding extra blood and gore in slo mo. That’s not what Supes needs.

    • no.. people want a superman movie not a watchmen movie.. yes i loved watchmen, but i want a superman movie, a good movie, and with snyder it will also be good visually. did you not like 300? i think he will do better than the rest of those directors.

      • “people want a superman movie not a watchmen movie”

        precisely why Snyder is not the best choice – Snyder has failed to show any range. maybe this owl movie will change that

        and it’s not just the visuals, the editing and pacing of Watchmen was horrible

        • i dont get you.. if snyder gets the job, you think it will be the same as watchmen? have you seen any of his other films? if he collaborate with chris and jonathan i think the movie can be great! i had not problem with the pacing or editing in watchmen.. sometimes i feel that people use those as fake excuses just cause the movie simply wasnt for them.

          • yes – Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen. what do they all have in common? slo mo blood with little dramatic substance. The Watchmen story is incredibly deep but the film just didn’t capture the sense of impending war that the book did.

            The vast majority of people who say the like it (from what I can tell) are those who knew the story, while those who didn’t like it did not (generalization, no empirical evidence so don’t blast that comment). If true, what does that say? The movie failed to tell the story.

            Pacing and editing are both very real and can make a good movie unwatchable. Good directors can see when a scene is detracting from the mood and cut that scene. This wasn’t done well in Watchmen making 30-minute chunks seem like hours.

            • i havent read watchmen, and i loved the story. i had nothing against the editing.. not something i generally notice. yeah, if the people that didnt know the story did not like it, then it tells that it didnt quite tell the story well enough. but we dont know that for sure.

              • fair enough – some really like his style which is personal taste. I hope I don’t come off as saying anything bad about people who liked the movie.

                It’s not that I don’t like the style. I for one think he and McG should just go back to doing music videos or commercials where visual style is all that is needed.

  8. sounds like we have some haters in the mix, oh well lol.

  9. ZACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Sign Matt Reeves on so we can keep up the tradion of “Reeves”. George Reeves, Christopher Reeves, and now Matt Reeves. (j/k)

    • Christopher Reeve (no S)


  11. Asking someone why Watchmen is good is like asking soneone why Pizza tastes so fantastic. It’s hard to believe anyone could see that movie and not think it was great.

    What was great? Amazing writing , great visuals , pretty good pace, and pretty good acting. The music was a nice bonus as well. Also while it made some changes it was pretty damn faithful and had sone of the most accurate casting I’ve ever seen for a comic film. They nailed the tone of the story and for me some of the changes made were improvments. I hate the damn squid.

    • I have to agree with that. As for the squid, it would have been ridiculous. I would say that ‘Watchmen’ was perfect (IMO), definitely my favorite CMB.

  12. Sorry guys i hated watchmen im serious.

  13. loved watchmen loved it, zack synder with the Nolans please god yes.

  14. I’m kinda leaning towards Tony Scott now.

  15. Zack Snyder for Director.
    Jon Hamm as Superman.

    I think it would be epic.

  16. Please Bring Brandon Routh Back to Play Superman regardless of how trashy Superman Returns was it wasnt the actors fault that Superman Returns wasnt good as people expected!

    • I thought Routh was great as Kent/Superman, but he won’t be back. I can almost gurantee u that.

  17. With Snyder the visual of the Superman world would be stunning just like the Batman world is unique and gritty, Superman would be unique and other worldly (not alien worldly) just not so grounded in reality.

  18. Ok guys I love watchmen I relaly did, but those of you who think Snyder should direct Superman I gotta ask have you seen his films? If so do you actually know anything about Superman? Because the two don’t work together. Deadpool sure he could pull that off maybe, but not Supes. 300 was an empty soulless film that was visuals only. Watchmen was excellent, but Sucker Punch looks awful. Even if you like his movies they all share a few things in common. A unique visual style, lots of blood, lots of violence and they are very dark gritty and in your face. Raise your hand if you think that’s fitting for Superman.

    • Totally agree there daniel. Snyder is not a supes director. And i wasn’t impressed with 300 (yes it was violent, but not sullys kinda violence).

    • I agree totally

  19. I see a lot of love for Snyder and while I think he can do comic book action (300) and moving comic stories (Watchmen) I fear to think of how he’ll feel having someone else calling the shots? Namely, Nolan. It’s no secret that the studio pretty much let Zack do his thing on Watchmen with little to no interference, mostly because that’s the way he works best. And while Watchmen was visually stunning, and possessed characters you could truly care for (Night Owl & Rorschach) it did fall short with mainstream audiences. Just something to think about.

  20. tom welling as superman!!! ftw!!

  21. I believe that the new superman movie will need some type of real action.
    I mean the superman returns movie was corny if you ask me due to the lack of any real fight scenes. The intire movie had this ninja stalking his true love. Only thing that was really hot in the movie was when superman saved the air-plain at the stadium. And when he shattered the bullet in his eye. Other then that, the movie kinda sucked bigtime..

  22. Final cut isn’t automatically in the hands of the director. I wish people would remember that! I see both sides of the argument though. “300″ is arguably the best adaptation of the material to come along. “Watchman” just didn’t capture the imagination of the average person is all and really had nothing to do with Snider’s talent. I really believe no one could have been as faithful to that property and made it more accessible to the person desiring something, for the lack of a better word at the moment, mainstream in feel, tone, or content. He could have cut down on the nudity,raw violence, and sexuality and focused a little more on the heroism in “Watchmen” but people would’ve accused him of caving to studio pressure or common sensibilities. It would have opened the film up to a wider audience but would have jettisoned an important part of its true character. The outcry from fans would’ve been very loud to be sure. The Heroes of “Watchmen” are all too human, that was one of its points and with the diversity of personality the whole range of human behavior comes out. From the shy humility in Dan’s heart to the brutal hard heartedness inside Ed Blake. I want to add too that I never read the story until AFTER I saw the movie, which was tough, tough, tough. I liked the movie right from the beginning warts and all.

    Superman on the other hand isn’t so much a niche character. As an alien who just so happens to have a very ordinary human form, he can embody all the good and positive that people aspire to within themselves and still not be alienated by his perfection. Perhaps if the character started out as red colored with horns that protruded out of his head and an ugly demeanor with armored scales appearing whenever he used his powers, he would be less approachable. The Bizarro effect if you will, but that’s not how he’s drawn and so he’s far more popular.

    To characterize Snyder as having an agenda that reduces his range as far as a product he’s able to produce is ignoring his talent in favor of an overly conservative view that simplifies and types people based solely on a single effort. A more thoughtful criticism and something that I’m just realizing is that his documentary background has played an important role in his movie making and will that effect his ability to set a “Superman” movie into a framework that draws the audience into the story rather than feeling like a class lecture on Superman? That’s something that could easily creep into his movie despite how entertaining and exciting the script is. Perhaps that’s the real problem and ultimately the reason why he shouldn’t do a “Superman” movie.

    Given that then who should direct “Man of Steel?” Well you want a director that has been successful and has done a full range of genre pictures. A controversial choice would be David Lynch, but if you think about his work like “Blue Velvet,” “Twin Peaks,” and “Dune” you know he has the range. He knows the feel of the small townie in the big city, I.E. Clark Kent, but at the same time he’s had to deal with supermen before, Paul Atreides. On top of that he knows his freaks and about alienation, think Bizarro and Brainiac which he could draw experience from what he did on the “Elephant Man” and in the Biomechanoid underlying “Dune” and a little film he did called “Eraserhead” to fill in the Brainiac parts. Since he has little influence on the scripts story, the pressure would be off to create a story that had mass appeal. If your tastes run more conventional what about Wim Wenders? Is this guy even still working? Yes, he is, he has a film coming out next year too “Pina.” What about his lackluster critical success, films like “Until the End of the World” and “Buena Vista Social Club,” they didn’t exactly set the critical world on fire. However he did a little film back in 1987 called “Wings of Desire” about angels overseeing human activity and it garnered a solid rating. That film was done under Warner studios and the guy is no stranger working with superstars like William Hurt, Peter Falk, or Dennis Hopper. Besides “Wings” was a film with allot in common with Superman. I guess one could go with the likes of Joe Dante if you want a director a cut above, but his problem is he has more credit than Nolan, so I’m skeptical he’d step in to do someone else’s vision. That kind of leads me back to who should probably really do it and that is Chris Nolan himself or Jon under Chris’s close supervision…

    • Dude, you need to start your own blog. There’s no way I’m gonna read this reply unless Vic himself wrote it.

      • Starting your own blog today isn’t a very good idea. Their’s already a glut of blogs and I’m having too much fun being retired to work every day to produce content that’s amateur at best. I can sympathize with your plight though and offer you the secret to the person in a hurry to be heard on a subject without trying too hard.

        Only read the last couple of sentences or at most the last paragraph of a long comment. Likely a summation comes at the end of a writing effort. The body will talk about all the reasons why the summary is what it is. What ever your opinion is on the summary paragraph focus on that and write your own comment regarding that. If a comment isn’t structured like that try skimming the entire comment to get the jest of the ideas. In mine you might notice I don’t focus on the other candidates, Just Zack. You could construct a comment asking why or what you think makes one of the other directors better than Jon Nolan. Finally you could just rapid read it. Unless you practice that reading style quite a bit you won’t get allot out of what you read but if you pick up one idea say: the old man believes that “Watchmen” failed to capture the imagination of the common movie goer, you might have something to talk about there.

        As a regular commenter here I appreciate your feedback. Most who would decide to bypass my comment wouldn’t bother to comment that it was overlong…

    • @ the old man

      I would love to add Ridley Scott to the list. I think he would make an awesome (A Grade) Superman movie.

      As always I find your comments thoroughly informative and interesting.

      I really don’t mind Zack Snyder. I think he may actually bring a different kind of formidable and heroic Superman to the screen but hopefully Snyder is also able to expand his skillset beyond what he noted for.

      I also really like the idea of Wim Wenders. He has quite an incredible back catalogue of work including some music videos for U2.

  23. I had to re-read the article to believe it. Zack Snyder as front runner? Wow that is so awesome dude! It will be like EPIC bro! Superman in constant slo-motion? Imagine how EPIC that will be! It will be like full of win and stuff.

    Or… maybe Nolan would prefer a director with more substance? Id rather see Jones or Reeves take the helm.

    I enjoy Snyder’s films, but he has already made 2 comic book adaptions and it seems pretty obvious to me that Nolan will go with someone who will bring something new to comic book adaptations. Rather than go with the tried and tested.

  24. warner just want Synder as front runner, but if they pay attention to their cash cow maker Nolan than he will most likely either pick Reeves or Scott since both more substance under their belt than Synder. Though I have no complaints over Synder, cuz he’s a director of visual talent maybe not writing and story, but good director nonetheless.

  25. I like Synder’s use of visuals in his movies and the color tones. I think he would do a good job of creating a world where the man of tomorrow could realistically live. That being said, why not get Richard Donner to film it? He filmed the first one and part of the second one. Get him to make the Superman movie he really wanted to make.

  26. Michael Bay!!

    • you sir, must be on crack

      • Anthony You give a reponse like that when someone suggests michael Bay. But give an OK for Snyder????? R these two that far apart? C’mon man.. lets get real.

  27. Who knows Snyder could be OK at a period setting if given a good script. Loved 300 but Watchmen was somewhat disappointing. The first half was nicely constructed. The music suited it since the book references a lot of pop culture. But what took me out of it was some of the pacing, a crap Ozy and the lack of any impact in the ending. I didn’t feel for RawrShark’s death at all. It was hokey. The monster wasn’t totally necessary but the energy wave should have at least wrapped around buildings slightly like tentacles and there definitely needed to be tonnes of bloodied bodies there. Not just a crater. Nobody can deny the how powerful turning that red page after the clock strikes was. He’s still a great visual director so hopefully with the help of Nolan it can make us forget about Singer’s one.

  28. ok first off im gonna say im not a massive superman fan but as a big fan of nolan and batman im intrested to see how this goes.

    im a big fan of scott and snyder they both could do this movie justice snyders visuals are amazing ( ive read watchmen and thought the film was great yes it missed bits and Ozymandias wasnt great but i doubt anyone could have done that film to a higher level )300 looked amazing and i enjoyed it, sucker punch again looks amazing and am looking forward to experiencing it in the cinema.

    scott on the other hand has made some of my favourite films like man on fire but can he do a comic adaptation as well as snyder could plus he has over 22 films in development (acording to imdb) would he drop some to do the man of steel or rush it to fit in other things, i have heard he has been linked with nemesis (the marc millar comic) and i think that would suit him alot more than superman (if millar ever finishes the bloody thing,if he gets it i bet denzel washington is in it somewhere lol).

    as for casting what about the guy who does smallville i dont know his name but surely this would be good for the fans as he is well liked (i assume its been on for 10 seasons)and recognizable for non fans like me it could even continue the timeline if i remember rightly he isnt at the daily planet yet in the show (pls forgive me if im wrong)

    however this turns out i will be going to see it as chris nolan has so far had the golden touch with all his films ive loved them all (not seen the following but cant find it on dvd for love nor money) so fingers crossed he can return superman back to where it was in previous years.

  29. Looking forward to the new superman movie.