In recent weeks DC’s upcoming Batman standalone film has lost two directors in the form of star Ben Affleck and Planet of The Apes director Matt Reeves. One could argue this is cause for concern in a universe that has already spawned some less than stellar movies so we’re here to help narrow down the candidate list to a handful of directors that could be the director Batman deserves (yeah I went there with that joke, and I apologize)
The A-Lister: David Fincher
Known for: Se7en, Zodiac, Social Network
Suggested Batman Adaptation: Hush
Getting David Fincher would be a dream scenario for DC as he would bring instant credibility to a film that is struggling to hold the faith of the fanbase. His work suggests that he would be a good fit for the themes that Batman often treads and his cache within Hollywood would suggest that the studio would give him more free reign to create the movie he wants (though given what allegedly happened with Suicide Squad, anything is possible)
Zodiac, Se7en and The Game have proven Fincher’s ability to create a great villain and there is perhaps no superhero out there with as great a rouges gallery as Batman. Add to the fact that he also has a history with Affleck through Gone Girl and David Fincher is undoubtedly an ideal candidate to direct The Batman. Whether he wants to though remains an entirely different story.
The Up and Comer: Bong Joon-Ho
Known for: Memories of Murder, The Host, Snowpiercer
Suggested Batman Adaptation: The Black Mirror
Bong Joon Ho is a relative unknown to the bulk of western audiences save for his lone English feature Snowpiercer (the underrated post-apocalyptic thriller starring Chris Evans) but he’s been a fixture in Korean cinema for over a decade with his dark films and meticulous attention to detail.
Stylistically Joon-Ho fits the tone of the more serious Batman comics and can provide a nice balance between the detective and the action hero sides of Batman. Like Fincher, he has a history working with dark thrillers and has also shown great ability in crafting tension while maintaining pace (see Snowpiercer’s constant forward motion and The Host for prime examples of his excellence)
Selecting Joon-Ho is a gamble for DC but is one that could reap huge rewards provided they allow his unique voice and vision to shine through as they have in his past features. For Joon-Ho, if there is any interest at all in dipping further into the American market, I see few vehicles as big as The Batman to launch him into worldwide superstardom.
The Wildcard: Kevin Smith
Known for: Clerks, Chasing Amy, DC Superfan
Suggested Batman Adaptation: Batman: Cacophony
There is no director in Hollywood who is a bigger fan of Batman. If you can trust anyone to do the source material justice, it’s Kevin Smith. Smith has had various encounters with DC superheroes, directing various episodes of Supergirl and The Flash for DC’s television counterpart as well as writing his own comic book for Batman himself.
The only caveat against Smith is that none of his feature films have ever tackled anything as dark as Batman nor has he ever been given a massive budget to work with. His best work to date comes in the form of smaller indies like Clerks and Chasing Amy where Smith can exercise his best skill: writing strong dialogue and characters that you root for. Can that translate over to something like Batman? It’s unknown but there is perhaps no one out there who will invest emotionally into this movie like Kevin Smith.
The Rookie: Jonathan Nolan
Suggested Batman Adaptation: Arkham Asylum
Known for: Writing Memento, Dark Knight Trilogy, Westworld (TV)
He co wrote and co produced his brother’s (Christopher Nolan) take on the Caped Crusader in what was arguably the greatest superhero trilogy ever put on film so why not bring a Nolan back? Largely known as a writer for his brother’s projects (including his crowning achievement Momento) the younger Nolan has recently dabbled into directing with HBO’s Westworld (a series he helped create). Is it risky giving a multi-million dollar project to a guy who has only directed a few episodes of a TV show? Sure, but he did help helm DC’s finest cinematic stretch so why not give him a shot?
The “Fuck You Marvel”: Shane Black
Known for: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys, Iron Man 3
Suggested Batman Adaptation: Court of Owls
When Shane Black made Iron Man 3, it felt like they were failing to use Black’s talents. The tone of the Marvel cinematic universe just didn’t seem to fit with the neo-noir stylings that has seen Black succeed previously and the result was a subpar Iron Man film that left audiences wanting more and Shane Black fans wondering what happened to the guy they knew from Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Batman, on the other hand, represents a hero more in line with the areas that Black has thrived. This is especially true if DC is looking for a lighter Batman, one who is still dark and brooding but is also capable of firing off occasional dry humor (as we’ve seen in small doses in the Justice League trailer and parts of Batman v Superman). It is doubtful that Black would ever want to return to the superhero genre but if he did, look no further than The Batman.