Picking a director for an upcoming movie based on their past work doesn't always pan out. Bryan Singer, for example, totally failed to bring the sense of energy and "cool" that he invigorated the first two X-Men films with to Superman Returns, while Brett Ratner dropped the ball around the same time and almost killed the X-Men film franchise before Singer could ever get back to it. But the other side of that is the Joss Whedon of it all—the idea that sometimes you CAN look at somebody's body of work and say, "You know what? This guy. This guy right here." It clearly worked out, both creatively and financially, on Marvel's The Avengers, and we got to thinking recently: Who are some filmmakers who don't obviously stick out as superhero candidates, but whose resume has one or more projects that seems to point them in the direction of a big-budget, big-effects tentpole film? Shane Black reportedly got the job directing Iron Man 3 on the strength of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and, whatever people might think, that's not the kind of job that you can luck into by being friends with Robert Downey, Jr. That property is way too valuable for Marvel/Disney to screw around with, especially after Iron Man 2 left such a bad taste in many audience members' mouths. And while Black has yet to prove himself to a mass audience, the people at Marvel seem to be incredibly high on Black and on the footage they're seeing. What other films could inspire such confidence?1. The Matador
(Richard Shepherd) Interestingly enough, with the silly little mustache he has here, Pierce Brosnan might make an intriguing Sorcerer Supreme, but it's somewhat lighter fare in the vein of an Iron Man or Captain Americamovie where Shepherd would likely flourish. The Matador was a great mix of comedy, drama, character and action, and in the time since he's worked in TV writing and directing on both sides of the comedy/drama divide with Girls and Criminal Minds. Given the fact that he's scarcely worked in feature films, this one could be risky, but the upside would be huge and, if needed, ABC could probably give him a dry run on a few episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D.
2. Looper (Rian Johnson) This one would be a tough "get," since Johnson is now one of the fastest-rising stars in Hollywood and there will be plenty of competition for his next big thing. It's worth at least trying, though, since he so clearly "gets" genre, and he's got a great rapport with his audience. Hell, the guy created a commentary track that you can load on your iPod and listen to in theaters. Seeing Johnson take on something like Exiles could be a lot of fun, and makes sense on the strength of Looper. He's got a great ear for dialogue that would serve a team movie well, too, and his work on Breaking Bad would give him enough of an eye for the gritty to convincingly do whatever it was that Nick Fury needed to do in a movie. Could it happen? Who knows--there's nothing official on his next movie yet.
3. Chuck Vs. the Good-Bye (Robert Duncan McNeill) Okay, so technically not a movie--but more happened in the brilliantly-directed Chuck finale than happens in a year of most mainstream comics. And it's really a cumulative body of work that we're looking at here. McNeil directed more than 20 episodes of Chuck, a series that was the closest thing TV has yet had to Iron Man, in terms of pure enjoyment, action, humor and heart. He's also directed episodes of genre favorites like V and Supernatural--and played Lt. Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager. Tell me that bit of geek synergy wouldn't get some people excited. With the espionage and war background in some of his work, he may be ideally suited to take on something like Captain America or Black Panther, although his eye for character and willingness to stretch out a beat if it's working for the actors could make him a great choice for a lesser-known property like The Inhumans, helping to imbue them with some humanity.
4. Dark City (Alex Proyas) This guy's had as many stinkers as he has classics, but with Dark City and The Crow under his belt, who better to tackle the bits of the Marvel Universe heretofore unexplored? This guy can go dark, but he can also do big, light adventure--see I, Robot--and if your biggest problem is that his body of work is uneven, that's easily solvable: Marvel and Disney have to have a firm hand in the direction. Luckily enough, that seems to be what they do already.
5. District B13 (Pierre Morel) There may be a bit of a language barrier here. Overcome it. Morel did a movie that's as good-looking and well-choreographed as anything we've seen from the Marvel Studios movies yet, all on a budget that was about ten percent of what Marvel spends on theirs. Granted, a lot of it was gimmicky stuff that he couldn't get away with again (and a sequel to this film proved it), but Morel clearly has an eye for world-building, and that's something that Marvel will need as they start to branch out into the magical and cosmic characters.