Who's Worthy of the Man of Steel?

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After going through an utter dry spell in regards to Superman movie news since the announcement earlier this year that Christopher Nolan would be involved in a producing capacity, the dirt sheets caught wind of some rumored directors in consideration for the project. Warner Bros. will apparently make a decision soon in order to get production started on a film with a planned 2012 release.


All that lawsuit nonsense with the Siegel family aside, this is a pretty bold move from Warner Bros, but perhaps representative of their new initiative regarding getting their films based on DC Comics characters on the way to making the billions they desire. More interesting is the actual list of directors that are apparently being considered. Certainly not anybody that I expected, save maybe one. Unfortunately, there is only one person that appears on this list that is remotely suitable for the Man of Steel. Let’s begin with who it’s not:

1. Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder

The man’s somewhat of a golden boy after the success of 300 and Dawn of the Dead, and gets credit for make a valiant effort at bringing Watchmen to the big screen. Unfortunately, he’s not the man for this job. He’s got his niche; uber-violent over-the-top action sequences done entirely against green screen. It’s not that I don’t enjoy his films, but Superman requires a delicacy that Snyder simply doesn’t have at this stage in his career. Sure, he just did a kids CG-animated movie, but owls are a far cry from the Last Son of Krypton.

He even admitted himself a couple of years back that taking on Superman was something he had no desire to do.

2. Jonathan Liebesman

I honestly had to check this guy’s credits on iMDb before writing this article, and when I did, I realized why I never bothered to learn his name. Darkness Falls, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and The Killing Room. ‘Nuff said, and no thanks.

3. Matt Reeves

Matt Reeves

Before the smash success of Cloverfield, Reeves’ only credits were some various TV projects, most notably a significant stint on Felicity (which, for the record, is amazing). Around the time of Cloverfield’s release, I doubted the man’s competence to tell a science fiction story, but he found a way to blend Felicity, Blair Witch and Independence Day into one film. I’d actually be alright with him getting a hand at Superman, but he’s already responded to claims and said he hadn’t heard anything in regards to his name being discussed.

Plus, I’m sure JJ Abrams would do his best to leech on the project, and that’s just... unwelcome. Yes, I realize how many people I just offended.

4. Tony Scott

Tony Scott

This one was out of left field, especially considering that every other name on the list was from the new generation of filmmakers.

Scott has made some decent films like Enemy of the State and True Romance, but the man is notorious for being a popcorn director. He’s not as bad as Michael Bay, but he’s come dangerously close. Unfortunately, with fans having complained so much about the “lack” of action in Superman Returns (because an epic rescue of an airplane and throwing an entire continent into space isn’t enough, apparently) I’m sure the studio is taking that into account. However, as he’s proven time and time again, Tony Scott is unable to do anything but turn in action set piece after action set piece. Give me the name of a character from any of his films besides Top Gun and I’ll give you $5.

That leaves one man, the one most suited for the job. Surprisingly, he’s the most inexperienced of all of these guys.

5. Duncan Jones

Duncan Jones

The son of Ziggy Stardust himself, Jones is, in my mind, the only one of these directors that could do justice to the Man of Steel. He’s only got one released feature film under his belt: 2009’s Moon. He’s got Source Code on the way, but based on Moon alone, it’s blatantly obvious that Jones is the only one to tell the story of Superman under the watchful eye of Christopher Nolan.

The problem that all of the other directors on this list would run into is portraying Superman, inside and out, as a character that is interesting to the viewer. Anyone can film an action sequence; action scenes rely on so many different people on a movie set that the director is nearly irrelevant. If Jones is inexperienced with directing action, spend the money you saved hiring a lesser known directing talent on the best fight choreographer and stunt team you can find. Hell, most of it is done by animators now anyway. Action is easy, constructing performances is hard.

Moon was a mostly a one-man show, if you don’t count Sam Rockwell’s multiple roles and Kevin Spacey playing a computer. And yet, Jones got a performance so powerful out of Rockwell and crafted a brilliant character study that the film remains interesting throughout. I’ve seen the film five or six times now, and each time through is better than the last. The more you think about it, Moon is literally about one guy, alone, in space. If Jones can craft something like Moon with one principal actor, imagine what he could do with Superman.

Just as I discussed in my article about Darren Aronofsky directing the Wolverine sequel, these are the type of filmmakers -- the modern auteurs -- that the studios producing superhero flicks need to start hiring in order to get something new and different from their most iconic properties.

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