Big-name directors trying to make faithful adaptations of comic book source material is a fairly new phenomenon in Hollywood, with Joss Whedon and Jon Favreau breaking the Tim Burton/Christopher Nolan mold of making a movie in their own voice and style that just happens to feature Batman. But actors and directors have long considered these films, and either had a problem getting them made or simply never pursued them to the extent that they could have.
One such example is apparently Roman Coppola--director, producer and son to The Godfather and Apocalypse Now mastermind Francis Ford Coppola.
(And, yes, Roman Coppola hasn't ever directed anything huge himself--but he DID thrill comics fans this summer by bringing J. Jonah Jameson together with The Avengers in an insurance commercial).
"You know, I did [have the desire to make a superhero movie], but I could again," filmmaker Roman Coppola told Movie Pilot (via CBM). "I was a huge comic book fan comic book fan growing up, within reason. I was a fan of Spider-Man and all that stuff. Actually, I met Stan Lee 15 or 20 years ago when Marvel had the worst reputation for their adaptations. They had made a really terrible Fantastic Four movie and some other things. I met him with my dad and we said, ‘Oh, wow, I wish we could be involved. How great would it be to make a really accurate version of one of these films?’ I had the aspirations to make a Doctor Strange movie, which I worked on quite a bit. I ended up coming out on the other side, since I told someone I was working on a comic book movie and they said, ‘Do you really want to work for a studio to get pushed around for three years and not make something that’s personal?’ To make a movie like that where I could really use my sensibility would be fantastic. That type of work now is a product, and there’s a manner in which it’s made. Now I think it’d be better to spend those three years to do something better."
While Dr. Strange is not exactly a best seller in comic book stores, he's consistently picked as a favorite character of creators and filmmakers in comics circles, including Stan Lee himself. A feature film version of the character is reportedly in the works right now, although Marvel has yet to officially announce it.
Comics fandom runs in the family, of course; Coppola's cousin, two-time Academy Award nomineee Nicolas Cage, is a well-known comic book fan and almost got the part of Superman in a Tim Burton-directed version of the film before he ended up settling for a pair of Ghost Rider movies. Coppola reportedly also said that Cage would have been the perfect Dr. Strange for his film.
Your mileage may vary.