10 directors who should take on 'The Batman'
Posted February 6
THE BATCAVE — Even though “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” received poor critics' reviews and mixed reactions from fans, most people agreed that Ben Affleck’s Batman wasn’t the issue. In fact, Affleck ended up being one of the best parts of the movie and that got us excited about a solo Batman movie.
DC and Warner Bros. announced that “The Batman” was actually coming and that Affleck would both star in and direct the superhero movie. That got a lot of us excited considering Affleck has directed some incredible films including Best Picture winner “Argo.” But we recently got news that Affleck has dropped out of directing “The Batman” because, according to a statement released by Affleck, “Performing this role demands focus, passion and the very best performance I can give. It has become clear that I cannot do both jobs to the level they require.”
I feel that’s a noble sentiment and hope that it’s true and it's not because he doesn’t think the movie is very good and doesn’t want to be responsible from a directing standpoint.
With Affleck out, it leaves the question— who’s going to take over as director? Even though it’s rough losing Affleck, there are some talented directors out there who would do the film and franchise justice.
Brothers Dave and John Clyde have compiled a list of 10 directors they think should sit in the director’s chair for “The Batman.”
Dave: When the idea of Guillermo del Toro first came to my mind, I didn't give it much thought, but it kind of stuck around and I began to warm up to it. The reason the idea intrigues me is because del Toro directs from a dark place that works perfectly for a twisted city full of twisted criminals. I think he would give “The Batman” an over-the-top adult version of what Tim Burton did in the '90s.
John: I’m not saying I don’t like the pick, but I am not the del Toro fan that many are. I will admit we’d have a gorgeously bizarre Batman film ala Tim Burton, but I haven’t been impressed with del Toro’s stuff as of late. I wouldn’t be upset if he got the nod, but he is not in my top 10.
Dave: Brad Silberling the director of “Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events” was the first person to pop into my mind when John proposed this question to me. Although there is nothing else he has done that I have liked, I was captivated for the entire Lemony Snicket's film for the unique vision Silberling brought to the screen. His alternate universes slip so seamlessly in and out of our reality that you find yourself transported to a new reality without even knowing you left your seat. I would love to see his gritty best for Batman.
John: This threw me off at first and I thought Dave was a bit insane, but then I got thinking about it more and more and really liked the pick. Siberling doesn’t have an amazing track record, but his style is just off-centered enough that he could make a really interesting Batman movie. The tone would be incredibly unique and the entire film would contain a whimsical element that could work if approached the right way.
Dave: The reason I feel so good about my pick for J.A. Bayona is his ability to emotionally clamp down on his viewers through his use of character and plot development. Something that has been noticeably absent from superhero movies. If I had only ever seen his movie “The Orphanage,” I would have picked him based on that alone. Since he also directed “A Monster Calls,” there is no doubt in my mind he has what it takes to make us care deeply about anyone he would put on screen— hero or villain, alike.
John: A year or so ago, I would have thought Bayona was a bit of a throwaway pick, but his work on “A Monster Calls” has changed my mind. I really liked “The Impossible,” but that didn’t scream to me that he could pull off a Batman movie. “A Monster Calls,” on the other hand screams from the rooftops he can pull it off. Bayona knows how to capture real emotion inside a world where it’s easy to get distracted by what’s happening around you. I think this is now one of Dave’s best picks.
Dave: I know this is kind of an obvious choice, but I picked it for good reason. Villeneuve has vision, which is something DC so desperately needs right now. I feel like with DC’s own foray into the superhero universe no real tone or rules have been established. Villeneuve is exactly the director to set a long-term feel for the franchise and its many spin-offs.
John: What can I say here? I mean Villeneuve is a master of tension, which is so apparent in “Sicario.” Then with “Arrival,” he showed us a deeper emotional side, which Batman needs. If he can marry those two films and bring a touch of humor as well, then I think we’d have a really great Batman movie on our hands.
Dave: I know John will never speak to me again after this, but Christopher Nolan didn’t have Batman exactly right when he made his Dark Knight trilogy. Although he set the modern mood for Batman geniusly, the mood of the film design was off. What I mean by this is the world in which the idea of a Batman could seem plausible is to not set it in an identical world to ours currently.
The only way for the whole absurdity that is superheros and villians will work is to give the characters relatable real world problems and emotions to our own, but place them in a slightly imaginary world where our perception of possibilities can be manipulated. When the director has us lulled into a new reality, we begin believing the absurd is possible. I never once thought the story of the Dark Knight seemed plausible in the real world in which it was portrayed.
Which brings me to my pick of Alejandro Inarritu. I love the idea of the new conflicted and tormented dark Batman mixed with an updated take on the quirkiness of the Batman’s Gotham world. Inarritu’s fearlessness with medium could create an alternate reality that is so specific to whatever style he assigned to it, we would never see Batman the same again.
Who else right now could better push those two elements together to create a DC universe that is just enough off center that it would actually make sense other than Inarritu?
John: I know Inarritu is a hot name right now, but I don’t know how I feel about this pick. I thought “Birdman” was nothing short of brilliant, and “The Revenant” was a real test of endurance and a marvel that it was ever made, but I’m worried the Batman story may suffer for whatever experiment Inarritu wanted to attempt this time.
With “Birdman,” it was a whole movie in a single shot (kind of), and in “The Revenant,” it was a production battling the elements while using only natural light throughout production. I’m sure he’d make a fine Batman film, but I’m not sure he’s the right fit.
John: George Miller has made a myriad of different films throughout his career. He makes the “Mad Max” films and then ends up making “Babe: Pig in the City” and “Happy Feet.” Then he comes back and blows the world away with “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
Suffice it to say, you’re never really sure what you’re going to get from Miller.
What you do know, however, is that it will be visually stunning, entertaining and totally unique. At one point, Miller was going to direct a Justice League movie so I’d love to see him come on board for “The Batman.”
Dave: When I saw John’s pick for Miller, I said to myself, "I wish I would have thought of that.” Miller is a true master of cinema. I still remember how I felt when I saw the first “Mad Max” as a kid— it stuck with me my whole life. Every one of Miller's films has that quality of sticking with you long after you've seen it. Miller would bring an architect's attention to detail to the film and create the blueprint for everything to follow.
John: I don’t think people expected much from the 2014 action flick “John Wick,” but it ended up being one of the most entertaining and fun movies of the year. The film was a bit silly and over the top at times, but who cares when you’re having such a great time?
Chad Stahelski and David Leitch can build worlds and create action with some of the best in the game, and I’d love to see them tackle a Batman movie with its many layers and action-oriented story.
Dave: I had not considered Stahelski and Leitch when I was making my picks because I am only familiar with their movie “John Wick.” Don’t get me wrong, I love John Wick and cannot wait to see “John Wick: Chapter 2.”
With that said, John Wick was so over the top, it was funny which was as intended. The problem I have with this approach is that you want to take “The Batman” seriously, even though the idea of it couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t want my experience of “The Batman” to come with the disclaimer that "all action displayed in this film should be experienced tongue in cheek."
John: Sam Mendes may have become Hollywood royalty with deep dramas like “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road,” but he also made what is, in my opinion, one of the best James Bond movies with “Skyfall.”
Mendes would bring an artful eye to the Dark Knight’s story that will resonate on so many different levels. The comic book world isn’t new territory for Mendes, who gave us the excellent “Road to Perdition” in 2002 based off the graphic novel of the same name.
Mendes is a rare talent who can tell moving stories while keeping the action high.
Dave: Sam Mendes is a such a great movie maker whose intense focus on story and character ignite to create powerful films that haunt you long after they've ended (I still think of “American Beauty” all of the time).
However, just because a director can create deep and complex relationships on screen that resonate with the viewers off screen, does not mean he can make a good superhero movie. Why don’t you ask Ang Lee how “Hulk” worked out for him?
John: To me this one is a no brainer. Kathryn Bigelow is one of the most talented directors out there right now and I think she’d do amazing things with “The Batman.”
“The Hurt Locker” was superb in its portrayal of tension and inner turmoil. If that’s not Batman, then I don’t know what is. She knows how to shoot an action scene (if you don’t believe me, just refer to “The Hurt Locker,” "Zero Dark Thirty,” or her action classic “Point Break.”)
Bigelow has an eye for a story that is seamlessly laced into chaos-inducing surroundings, which makes her tailor-made for “The Batman.”
Dave: Now here was a pleasantly surprising pick from John. I actually really like where this could go. I love that Kathryn Bigelow’s movies all originate from a need in her characters' souls that cannot be met. That intense desire to fix something that cannot be fixed plays perfectly into the the Batman psyche.
With the loss of Bruce's parents as a catalyst to Batman's self-destructive behavior and need for closure that will never come, this would make a great movie in the hands of Bigelow. Dangit, John! Now you've got me wanting to see a Kathryn Bigelow Batman.
John: I would love to see any of the directors on my list, and most on Dave’s list, take over “The Batman,” but my No. 1 choice has to be Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Fukunaga really burst onto the scene for his expert direction on the first season of “True Detective.” He then followed that up with the powerful film, “Beasts of No Nation.” With both of those works, we know Fukunaga could take on a big project like “The Batman,” but he’d bring such a unique view to the world of Batman that it gets me giddy thinking about it.
The way Fukunaga sets up a scene is so engrossing that it’s borderline uncomfortable because you feel a part of the story. You are sucked into the surroundings of what’s on the screen and then get lost inside his narrative. Fukunaga would likely give us a very serious Batman movie, but that’s OK. Anyone remember The Dark Knight trilogy? There will be a realness and grittiness to a Fukunaga Batman film that could easily catapult it into the realm of one of the “best” Batman films.
I know I’m selling this really hard, but that’s because I desperately want to see “The Batman” through Fukunaga’s eyes.
Dave: This is not a cop out on my part, but I am not familiar enough with Fukunaga’s work to have a strong or informed opinion on his ability to create a great Batman. I will say that if what I’ve seen from the small amount of “True Detective” I’ve watched is an indication of what Fukunaga could do with this DC property, then we may have something interesting on our hands. I’m not on board for a heavily character-driven version of "The Batman,” but would be happy to see new layers of depth that complicate his soul.
Which directors would you like to see take on “The Batman?”
John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. John also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome and it just so happens that these are the three things he writes about.