Whelp, The Batman needs a new director.
Let’s start throwing around some names.
Apparently, according to various sources, DC already has a shortlist of potential directors in place—filmmakers who aren’t afraid to stare Ben Affleck in the face and say, in as menacing a voice as possible, “Your script sucked so I took out all the bits you love”, or something of that manner.
“No, Ben, you can’t make a suggestion about how we shoot this. Your job is to read the lines and try not to let your enormous square torso get in the way of the camera. If you’d wanted to have a genuine creative input into this movie, you shouldn’t have quit as director.”
That’ll be fun for whoever takes on this job.
Now, it’s important to remember that the director DC is looking for is someone spineless and inexperienced; a rube who’ll do whatever they’re told by the studio, and won’t try to slow down the filmmaking process with any new or original ideas.
As such, I guarantee that none of my top picks for the director’s chair will get the job.
This is a shame, as there are some fun names on potential shortlists that are bouncing around, and there are plenty of other directors that would do a great job of making the dark, disturbing Batman movie that we all want to see.
Forbes, for example, has a list of rumored directors with a few names on that would be great – but which should immediately be removed from all speculation, because they’re practically impossible. George Miller is not going to do The Batman, especially not in the timeframe that DC’s looking for.
Similarly, you can’t get Denis Villeneuve to direct literally every single geeky movie for the rest of the decade. He just did Arrival, he’s finishing up Blade Runner 2049, and then he’ll need to get straight to work on the Dune remake that nobody asked for.
Instead, here are some of the best choices for directors for The Batman, as chosen by me, a guy who has no real input into DC’s moviemaking scam:
2016 wasn’t a good year for many people, but it went pretty well for Gavin O’Connor. One of the names that Forbes is throwing around as a potential director for the Batman, O’Connor released two high profile movies last year—Jane Got a Gun and The Accountant.
It’s the latter of these two titles that makes O’Connor a particularly good choice for The Batman, as it proved that he already knows how to direct Ben Affleck without the whole thing devolving into a punching match.
You need a director who can get an emotional, powerful performance out of Affleck, and who can use him effectively in action set-pieces, without accidentally striking a nerve and turning the director of Argo into an emotional wreck.
Just whatever you do, O’Connor, don’t mention that more people are interested in The Batman than they are in Live By Night. That’s enough to trigger a full on meltdown from Ben.
Of all the names on this list, Matt Reeves has the best possible chance of actually being asked by DC to take on The Batman. He’s been mentioned in several key articles surrounding the movie, most notably, the Variety piece which broke the news of Affleck’s departure from the director’s chair.
Reeves is best known for the last Planet of the Apes prequel movie, and he's currently putting the finishing touches on War for the Planet of the Apes as we speak. He knows his way around weird action pieces, and is capable of blending these with emotional scenes that convey depth and meaning. He’s also pretty good at spinning a story which examines what it means to be human, which is a concept that would work well within the architecture of a Batman movie.
The only thing that might keep Reeves from the position is his current popularity. Why jump over from the Planet of the Apes franchise onto the clearly sinking DC ship? That’s a terrible career decision, not least considering that Warner Brothers would want him to check his creativity at the door when starting on the project.
Now we’re getting away from rumored names, and into wishful thinking. If you’re okay with that, read on—if not, here’s an article filled with pictures of a pretty girl in cosplay to enjoy instead. Don’t say I never do anything for you.
Now, one mistake that’s easy to make with Batman is to treat him like a superhero. Batman isn’t a superhero as such—and not just because he lacks any real powers (aside from wealth and inexplicable mastery of martial arts and detective reasoning).
Bruce Wayne is, instead, a collection of various mental illnesses. He’s incapable of moving on from the death of his parents, and is trapped in a psychosis that has him dressing up as a bat and using his vast wealth to punch criminals individually, even though this is the most inefficient method of fighting crime that is humanly possible (apart from methods that can be summed up with the hashtag #MuslimBan).
As such, Dan Gilroy, who directed Nightcrawler, is a perfect choice for The Batman. He’d be able to create a fractured, unstable Bruce who isn’t so much a hero as he is a flawed protagonist—someone with deepseated issues that he’s working to overcome, but whose attempts to improve the world only manage to make things worse.
Forget the pseudo-grit of Batman v Superman. Having Batman fire guns doesn’t make him truly dark—instead, the character’s real emotional depth should be explored by a director who’s willing to let Bruce fail in his mission to keep Gotham safe.
Alternatively, if you want a grounded Batman movie that carries on the torch from The Dark Knight in a meaningful and believable way, you can’t go wrong with Kathryn Bigelow.
It also makes sense, if you’re going to replace an Oscar-winning director, to get someone else who’s similarly been recognized by various awards committees for her impressive body of work.
Both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty are excellent examples of tight political thrillers wrapped up in real world events. This is exactly the kind of vision and style that would work well with Batman, and would set the DCEU on a far less ridiculous path.
Of course, if Kathryn Bigelow is smart, she wouldn’t give The Batman a second look if offered it. This is an unlikely casting, sure, but it’s hard to imagine someone who’d do a better job of making Bruce Wayne feel like a real living, breathing person, rather than a goofy cartoon character.
Yes, Gareth Edwards.
It’s my list, I can put whoever I want on here, and I want the guy who did Rogue One.
It’s not like he’ll be working on a sequel to that movie any time soon.
Before Edwards did Rogue One, though, he made Godzilla, a movie which makes the fictional city of San Francisco feel like an actual living, breathing place.
Wait, San Francisco isn’t a fictional city? Lame.
The important thing here, though, is that Edwards is good at worldbuilding, and city porn (if you’re going to google that term at work, don’t do an image search). We see this again in Rogue One, as the bustling Jedha is filled with character and life, despite being a completely fictitious location.
That one is fictitious, right?
Directors often overlook the importance of Gotham City to the Batman lore. Zack Snyder is happy for Gotham to essentially be a district within Metropolis, which kind of defeats the point, while even Christopher Nolan took his production team to Hong Kong when he wanted to get a some really good city shots to pad out his movie’s runtime.
Long gone are the days of Tim Burton’s German Expressionist Gotham. To get The Batman right, we need a city that reflects the Caped Crusader himself: dark, imposing, dangerous, and ultimately broken in ways that amount to more than just a few tramps huddling around a fire.
Gareth Edwards could bring us a new, impactful version of Gotham that feels alive, as well as gritty and scary. Sure, he sucks at creating meaningful characters, but with Batman already fully formed, there’s not much chance he’d get things wrong.
So, there you have it. Five directors who would do a great job with The Batman, but who almost certainly won’t get chosen for the job, because they’re just too talented.
There is, however, one other option that should be considered.
The movie needs a director who can stand up to Affleck’s “I’m literally Batman” argument, and who isn’t experienced enough as a director to challenge Geoff Johns’ vision of the movie.
Ideally, this director will also be capable of bringing a sense of mental instability to the project, and will hopefully be good at shouting while on-set.
Let Christian Bale do it. That would be hilarious.