Random Thoughts: Who should Christopher Nolan pick as SUPERMAN reboot director?

It’s hard to argue that Marvel’s been getting a leg up on DC with their movie adaptations, despite the comic company owning two of the biggest superhero franchises: Batman and Superman. British auteur Christopher Nolan could very well be regarded as a DC hero of sort the fact that he pretty much ‘rescued’ the Batman franchise from the pit that was Batman & Robin, practically the worst superhero movie of all time.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the son of Krypton and have the most respect for Nolan, so imagine my excitement when I first heard that Warner Bros asked him to be a mentor of sort on the The Man of Steel reboot. Then a month later came news that his frequent collaborator David Goyer came up with his dream vision of the über superhero. At the time, it seemed like the project is still so far away in our horizon, but perhaps it’s getting closer now that Nolan is currently shopping for a director to helm the franchise. The reason for the rush probably has a lot to do with the fact that DC will soon lose 50 percent of the  franchise’s copyright due to the notice filed by the heirs of the late Superman creator Jerry Siegel (per brandlaw.org).

Deadline reported Thursday that Superman producers Chris Nolan and [his wife and business partner] Emma Thomas are getting closer to resuscitating the Man of Steel… they have begun meeting with a short list of directors for the job of directing [the movie]…” The Superman reboot is slated to open Christmas 2010, whilst Batman 3 is scheduled to open right smack dab in the Summer Blockbuster month of July, 2012. Reportedly, Nolan and his team will have to select a director to helm the project and make their case in front of the studio before the project is to move forward.

So who made the list?

  • Tony Scott (Top Gun, Spy Game, Enemy of the State, Deja Vu)
  • Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In)
  • Jonathan Liebesman (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning)
  • Duncan Jones (Moon)
  • Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen)

My first reaction was to go with Snyder, as he’s quite a visionary director known for creating a visually-stunning film that combine highly-saturated color schemes with dynamic, high-octane action sequences. The former advertising commercials directors have won numerous Clio awards and he’s already got quite a few of buzz-worthy films under his belt despite his relatively short stint as a film director. The guy knows how to make killer trailers and has the ability to get a rousing response from audience at ComicCon. But after talking with one of my blog collaborators Ted S. (who’ve brought you the vision-to-film posts), I realize that perhaps all that razzle-dazzle visual feast isn’t enough to make up a truly worthy Superman film. So below is Ted’s rationale as who should get the job:

Out of all the directors from that list, I’d vote for Duncan Jones. Why? Well because I believe his style of filmmaking is very similar to Nolan’s. Just check out his first feature length Moon, it was very low budget film but yet with his direction and visual style, the film looked like it cost $30mil instead of $5mil to make. Also, the film dealt with identity and loneliness, isn’t that what Superman storyline has been about? Since we don’t know what the plot of the new Superman film is about, maybe Jones can bring us a new version of Superman like we’ve never seen before, just like what Nolan did when he introduced us to his version of Batman. Jones can probably tackle the issue of being the only super human in the world and how he feels being so isolated and yet people relies on him to save them. Whoever they choose to play the new Man of Steel, I truly believe Jones can bring out a great performance out of that actor. Sam Rockwell was pretty great in Moon.

As for the other directors, I’m not familiar with Liebesman’s or Reeves’ work. Reeves directed Cloverfield a couple of years ago, I refuse to watch that movie because I don’t care for that kind of storytelling. Liebesman’s resume is not too impressive either, although his upcoming Battle: Los Angeles looks pretty interesting.

I know that many will vote for Zack Snyder but I just don’t think he’s a good story teller; he’s great at making things blow up and can direct big action sequences. To me Snyder is more of a YES MAN type of director, you give him a script and he’ll follow it page for page, i.e. 300 and Watchmen.

Lastly, we have Tony Scott, I believe he’s run out of creative ideas when it comes to his directing style. If you saw the last couple of his films, you’ll notice that he had repeated his style from his earlier work. If you don’t believe me, watch the shootout scene near the end of Déjà Vu and then watch a shootout scene from his earlier film, The Last Boy Scout. Or watch Enemy of State then Domino, you’ll see the similarities in those films.

For this new reboot of Superman, I believe they should go with a director who not only can create great visual effects but one who can bring out the character of Clark Kent/Superman. Again, my vote goes to Duncan Jones, if you haven’t seen Moon yet, please give a rent, you won’t be disappointed.

Well, after reading his astute assessment, I think Ted has a really valid point about choosing Duncan Jones, and I’m even more curious to watch Moon now. Now your turn, readers. Who would you pick to helm the next Superman reboot?

22 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: Who should Christopher Nolan pick as SUPERMAN reboot director?

  1. My personal pick would be Zack Synder because I admire “Watchmen” a great deal and I think his visual talents would bring an original take to the “Superman” film. I know there are a lot of Duncan Jones fans out there, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Moon.”

    1. I like Watchmen, too, but I just think Superman shouldn’t be too dark like Alan Moore’s creations. I do agree that visually Snyder has an edge.

  2. …I’d love to see Christopher Nolan direct the film himself. But otherwise from that list I’d go with Snyder as he’s likely to bring us something that is dark and unique.

    1. Yeah, that’d be my first vote, too. Alas, the guy is way too busy. I do hope that no matter whom he choose, he’d still have time to monitor the project pretty closely.

  3. well, my first reaction would also be Snyder, the visual genius and a creative talent, but since I find SUPERMAN quite a boring superhero, and plus I always find Nollans stories and films monotonous and empty, I wouldn’t wish for Snyder to waste his talent in such a project. So, I’m pretty much indifferent just like I’m indifferent towards new SPIDERMAN and IRONMAN.

    1. Ah right, I remember you’re not crazy about Nolan and Superman like most people, Dez, but the world would be boring if we all like the same things, right? 😀

      I don’t think Snyder would ‘waste’ his talent to direct Superman though, in fact, there’s so much opportunity to revive that genre… but on the flip side, there’s plenty of chance people could screw it up, too.

  4. I personally would like to see Duncan Jones direct the Superman reboot. I know he’s only done one film (right? not sure), but i felt he brought a fresh perspective that could easily translate over to Superman. In the end, I know Nolan will pick the right director. I have complete faith in the guy.

    1. Yeah, I don’t see the fact that he’s only done one film as a bad thing. I mean, look at what Neill Blommkamp did with District 9, which is his feature film debut. I do hope that the studios will listen to Nolan and not just make it a numbers game (wishful thinking I know).

  5. I agree that Snyder or Jones would be my top picks as well. Tony Scott would probably my least favorite pick, he would turn Superman into such a cheap movie with ridiculous over-editing and “stylish” camera-work which usually means repeatedly rotating the camera around the character…

  6. I like the thought of Snyder (they make me recall the early collaboration of Lucas and Spielberg) but I think a younger director like Matt Reeves leaves a lot of room for growth with the tutelage of Nolan.

    Further I think Tony Scott would be too set in his ways to take advice or direction from anyone. But that’s just me.

    1. You’ve got a point there, Marc. I’m actually curious how well someone like Snyder would work with Nolan, their style seem to be quite different. But like Dan said, I have complete faith in the guy so we’ll see. Seems like we’re all in agreement about Tony Scott, I’m surprised he’s even in the short list.

  7. Though I don’t mind Synder as a director, and he did the best possible job he could with Watchmen – still a brilliant film and managed a relatively faithful adaptation (for the record I think the movie’s ending is way better than the book’s).

    Ideally I’d like to see Jones tackle it, as said he suits Christopher Nolan’s style far better. The ONLY thing going against Jones will be his inexperience with such a high profile production and budget and if he falters it could set his own rather promising career back a couple of years.

    I’m surprised Tony Scott is in there at all, I doubt Liebsmen has enough quality to pull it off. The wildcard choice for me though is Reeves, who did a stellar job with Cloverfield, creating a good mix of special effects and overall suspense.

    It’s a tough job for anyone though, as Superman is arguably a harder superhero to adapt than most because of the belief he’s too perfect thus making him quite boring. They should not bother with any origins this time and set the character in the midst of his career…oh and leave out Lex Luthor as the villain for the meantime. Brainaic or Darkseid would add a delightful mix of sci-fi into the mix if used correctly!

    1. If that is the only drawback of Jones is his inexperience then I think he’ll do all right, especially if Nolan takes him under his wing. It is a tough job for anyone (even Nolan!) for the reason you stated. Though I for one don’t think he is boring, I can understand that people think so. The challenge is to focus on his emotional weakness, as despite all that physical superpower, his heart is just as fragile as any human. Totally agree about getting a worthy villain, Lex is just so stale and bland. We need someone who equals The Joker of TDK.

  8. Tony Scotts work is very much so repetitive, but some of it very BAD repetition and some quite good. He’s still has talent there but I don’t think he’s right for the gig. Of the ones you listed Zack Synder perks my interest the most, but here are a few that I’d throw out there:

    Robert Rodriguez, I mean why the hell not? What Superman needs is refreshing. A dark new perspective, and loads of violence from the big bads. Also, John Mc Tiernan would be an interesting option.

    However of the five mentioned I’d definitely hand it off to Zack Synder, with possibly Jones as a second choice.

    1. Robert Rodriguez, interesting. Wouldn’t be in my top 5 as I don’t think Supes can be too dark or overly bad ass. I’m sure a lot of people would watch it, it’s just not the kind of Superman film I’m looking for.

    1. I’m sure with the success of Black Swan he’d be in such a high demand. I personally would rather have him work on other projects than tackling Superman.

  9. Richard

    Oh, dear Lord. NOT Tony Scott, please! I’d go with Duncan Jones, too. I loved Moon. Or, indeed, Zack Snyder. I think, after doing such a great job on Watchmen, he’d be great.

    Did I mention NOT Tony Scott? 😉

    1. He..he.. yeah, preaching to the choir, Richard. This whole directing bid is just getting more and more interesting now that Aronofsky is involved as well. I kinda doubt Tony Scott will end up getting picked.

  10. Either Jones or Reeves, but probably Reeves. Keep Scott the eff away. Last thing Superman needs is a Denzel cameo and constant shuffling from slo-mo to fast-forward.

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