Movie Question: Who Should Direct The Batman?

Now that Ben Affleck has officially left the project, after months of stating that he would (not) take the job, he finally admitted that he would turn the project down. He previously stated that if the script was not good (like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad), then he wouldn’t direct the film; now, he is stating that his reasoning for not taking on the project is because he feels that he would not be able to successfully juggle acting, writing, producing and direct as he originally planned, and would prefer to focus on just a few of those aspects.

So, let’s dissect a few directors that I think might be able to make The Batman great. However, before we do that, let’s look at what, thus far, has not worked in the DC films. You can read my article about comparing BvS and SS to get some background on some of these issues. So, with those in mind, who would be a good pick to handle all of the aspects that The Batman requires to be the great film that it most certainly has the potential to be?

1) Well, let’s start out with the most obvious: Christopher Nolan. In 2005, he directed Batman Beginswhich birthed the greatest trilogy to come out in cinema in the last decade or more. Of course, he’s gone onto do over more incredible things than “just” the Dark Knight films such as The Prestige, Inception and Interstellarbut what he’s able to handle that almost no other directors are is an intimate character-driven story in an epic setting, which he proves again and again. Without a doubt, The Batman is a film that desperately needs a character-driven story as no DC film aside from Man of Steel thus far has had a character worth following at all, even though so many amazing characters from the source material have been on screen. Not even Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor or The Joker were handled well in their most recent incarnations, and those are most definitely four of the best DC has to offer. The Batman needs to treat the character right, and Nolan would not fail at that.

2) Next, let’s take a look back at somebody who has taken a character with a mixed past and grounded the character in reality with a strong character-driven story: Sam Mendes with James Bond in SkyfallCasino Royale was great, and I would pick Martin Campbell but he has already done a DC film with Green Lanternwhich didn’t work out. Sam Mendes, however, gave us the greatest James Bond film of all time, after the character has flooded movie screens and book pages for the better part of the last century. After Skyfall, Mendes mentioned that he had no interest in directing Spectresiting Skyfall as the most taxing and physically nauseating experience of his life, so it makes sense why Spectre didn’t achieve in all of the ways it had the potential to. Really, only one director should handle a Universe film at a time, so that they work their hardest and give their all for that one film, and then retire. I think Sam Mendes could do one hell of a job with The Batman, just as he did with Skyfall. 

3) Before this director gets too big, let him direct The Batman, please. His name is Denis Villeneuve, and he has directed amazing films such as Prisoners, Sicario and Arrival in just the last three years, as well as thought-provoking, artistic and meditative EnemyWhile he will be busy taking over the Blade Runner franchise this year, he most certainly would be able to helm The Batman as well. The theme of his films are almost always revenge and the search for justice or truth, which is exactly what Batman needs, and the darker and more unforgiving story that he puts his characters through would be great for the tone of the DC films. Place Bruce Wayne in any of Villeneuve’s films and you would most likely find something amazing, but have Villeneuve direct a story revolving around Wayne would be a masterpiece. And, hey, maybe Taylor Sheridan can write it? I’m open for that.

4) This might seem like a strange choice, but I’m sure Nolan seemed like a strange choice for Batman Begins after only Memento and Insomniabut Alejandro G. Iñárritu would make one hell of a Batman movie, mostly because of films such as 21 Grams, Babel, Birdman and, of course, The RevenantThe last of those films is a revenge film that The Batman would most likely need to be, and the amount of torture that Iñárritu puts Glass through in The Revenant is exactly what needs to happen to Batman after the messes of films that were BvS and SS. We need to believe that he is a hero worth following, and that is done by proving to us that he is a hero worth following by putting him through hell and having him come out alive, barely. His stories are not just intimately about his characters, but also about them struggling more so than they ever have, in ways they’ve never experienced. He places these character leagues out of their normal world, and they usually barely scrape by, if at all. The Batman needs that, and the nonlinear/mosaic style of filmmaking that he applies in his Trilogy, or the style in Birdman or The Revenant would be amazing in a superhero film.

5) Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines are both reasons why Derek Cianfrance should direct The Batman. His incredible stories based around the failures of his lead characters would make for a killer Batman film, akin to films like The Mask of the Phantasm or Under the Red HoodFor a more intimate and romantic Batman film, Cianfrance is the guy to handle it and I don’t think anybody else should if the movie is aiming to be much, much smaller (as it should most certainly be). I think this stands especially true with Blue Valentine as it is a very Nolan-esque story in how it handles the plot of shifting events around in the timeline and allowing the scenes to take place out of order. Like all of the reasons for the above directors, Cianfrance could also make a great Batman movie focused on story instead of spectacle.

6) Paul Greengrass, enough said. Even if Jason Bourne wasn’t the hit that it should’ve been, one can write that off as it not having the Robert Ludlum story to drive it. The Bourne films, however, had an incredible story revolving around a single character in his search for truth and justice, which sounds a lot like Bruce Wayne to me. Especially seeing as how this is a post-Robin world, Wayne would need to have a desperate search for truth that pushes his character to his emotional limits, and Greengrass has shown that he has the ability to do so for sure. He has also worked on Green Zone which is a war film that places an adept man in a situation that he wasn’t as prepared for as he thought, which is also what The Batman would/should/could be if it ever happens (and Captain Phillipsof course).

7) The last director before I stop this list (I’ve only reached the B’s in my A-Z films watched to pick these directors) is Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanbut most importantly, Children of MenCuarón delivers a stark and depressing dystopian future, which is how I picture aspects of Gotham, especially after seeing Begins, or BvS. Cuarón also proved that he can handle a character in a franchise with Azkaban and allow that story to improve upon the others while fitting the story of the entire franchise… which The Batman would have to succeed at.

Anyways, those are just seven of the hundreds of people that could make a great Batman film for DC since Ben Affleck has dropped out. Who would you pick? Do you agree or disagree with any of my picks? Let me know! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

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