Nicolas Winding Refn

For many people, "Drive" was an introduction to the particular talents of Refn, and looking at that film, the first thought isn't automatically "give this guy a superhero megafranchise."  What Refn has done over the course of his short and distinguished career is offer up intimate portraits of men who are pushed to some extreme place, who become almost emblematic in their behavior.  The idea that the guy who shot "Valhalla Rising" or "Bronson" would be responsible for showing us what the most powerful people in the world are like when the pressure on them would break anyone else is exciting, to say the least.

After all, the whole point of this exercise is to imagine how many ways various directors might twist or bend our expectations for a film starring such larger-than-life figures.  These are people with such a strong directorial voice that they might actually push through the system that has so far failed the DC movies so often, which has to happen if they're going to really establish these as something special.

It might be easy to think, reading my reviews over the last decade or so, that I think Marvel is the pinnacle of all superhero filmmaking, but I want to qualify the praise I've given to various films that I view all of this as part of a continuum.  I think there is so much room for growth within the spectrum of "superhero movies," and part of seeing these films transcend the crass corporate impulses that drive their production is hiring the right people, people who will push instead of just imitating what's already been done.

Mark Romanek

You want to see a superhero movie that looks like no other superhero movie?  Mark Romanek was not the most audacious visual imagination of the Propaganda, nor was he the most surreal and anti-commercial of the bunch.  When you look at his music video work, though, he's very obviously a filmmaker.  He had, in fact, made his first feature already by the time he became an MTV mainstay.  Music videos were his safety net after "Static" came and went, and he worked with a truly odd and eclectic range of artists.  En Vogue, De La Soul, Teenage Fanclub, The The, k.d. lang, Robyn Hitchcock, Iggy Pop., Lenny Kravitz, Madonna, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Macy Gray, No Doubt, Weezer, Eels, Sonic Youth, and Beck were all part of his time in music video, and he created some iconic images in those videos.

And, to be blunt, he could use the gig.

Romanek's feature films are both strong, interesting pictures that seem to me to be uncompromised, and neither one of them proved to be particularly commercial.  Like any artist working in film, he needs some financial success to point at so he can make other things that are personal to him.  I have no doubt he could tell the story in big painterly strokes, and that it would be beautiful.  I just have no idea if Warner would support him fully.  If they did, I have a feeling we'd get something amazing as a result.

Robert Zemeckis

How has this not happened yet?  How has Robert Zemeckis not been pulled into one of these already?  I'd love to see what he would do with these icons, especially since he's going to be coming at it based on the way the characters were defined when he was young.  He's not the same pop culture generation as many of the other names on this list, and that might make for a very interesting approach, one we haven't seen.

Technically speaking, is there anyone on this list who you can honestly say is better at creating and executing amazing cutting-edge FX sequences?  Zemeckis could show us things we've only ever seen in the comics before.  Have you ever seen a George Perez panel where there are roughly 10,000 different characters all in the same panel?  Well, Zemeckis would know how to do that, and he'd probably invent a new way of shooting things that would suddenly become the industry standard for how to show superpowered heroes at work and play.  Holy cow… the more I think about this, the more I wonder why no one's made this happen.

What about you?  Who would be your ideal pick to do this, and setting aside the idea that they're already developing the script, what would you do to bring the heroes together in a compelling way for both fans and first-time viewers?

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A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.