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With the Superman reboot gathering steam and a short-list of directors now on the net, we PAMers are going to analyze the runners and riders. The shortlist contains a interesting range of directors from indie filmmakers to action directors, with some obviously being producer Christopher Nolan’s favored choices though Warner Bros. will have their say. But whoever directs, the Superman has promise because of Nolan producing and David S. Goyer writing the script.
Notable Films: Moon
Pros: Despite having only made one feature-length film, Duncan Jones is one of the hottest directorial prospects around. Moon was a critical success and there is positive buzz surrounding his next film, Source Code. Jones has shown he can handle interesting sci-fi ideas, character development and set pieces.
Cons: He is still an inexperienced director and he has yet to take a big budget or large-scale film. Moon was a claustrophobic film because of it’s small setting and his sombre, serious approach might be more suited to X-Men or Batman than Superman. It may be too early in Jones’ career to tackle a superhero film.
The approach he might take: Because of his strong focus on character development, Jones could easily handle an origins story about how Clark Kent become Superman and look at themes of Clark being the last of his species and protect a species with a dark side.
Suitablilty for the Role: 7/10
Notable Films: Cloverfield, Let Me In
Pros: Like Jones, Reeves directorial stock is rising, showing with Cloverfield he can make an intense monster film and Let Me In has already gained a wildly positive reception. With a budget of $30 million he handled the action and CGI with effect in Cloverfield. Reeves works well with young actors and he has an understanding of younger people.
Cons: Also like Jones, Reeves has yet to tackle a big budget film. He has a track record for more darker and violent films, which may not fit with the lighter nature of Superman should that be the direction of the script.
The approach he might take: Reeves had a track-record for focusing on younger characters, so could tackle a storyline of about Superman’s early career, with him tacking on a new threat and explores his own dark side. Reeves enjoys focusing on young relationships, so Lois Lane would certainly playing a big part in the story.
Suitablitiy for the Role: 8/10
Notable Films: Top Gun, True Romance, Crimson Tide, Enemy of the State, Spy Game, Man on Fire
Pros: Tony Scott is a very experienced action director and has made entertaining films over the years. He has attached big name stars to his films and he is a traditionalist, only using CGI as a last resort.
Cons: For every hit like Top Gun and Enemy of the State, he has made dubs like Domino and The Fan. He sometime takes a workmanlike approach to direction and he has shown little interest to making franchise films. Plus it will be hard for Scott to find a role for his best friend Denzel Washington.
The approach he might take: Scott is an old-school director and he will properly make a film similar to the Richard Donner original, with an all-star cast and competently directed action sequences. He will film every scene like it was an action scene. Scott's inclusion on the shortlist reminds me of when Wolfgang Petersen was approached to direct Batman vs. Superman.
Suitability for the Role: 5/10
Notable Films: Dawn of the Dead (2004), 300, Watchmen, Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Pros: Zack Snyder’s filmography has some fun action films, with experience with CGI and traditional techniques and a very stylistic approach. He is one of Warner Bros. favorite directors and he has made both violent films and family friendly ones. Snyder is loyal to the original source material of his work.
Cons: Even Snyder’s biggest fans (like myself) will admit he has a style-over-substance approach and his live-action work have been violent affairs. Reaction to Snyder’s films are often mixed and he is a very different type of director than Nolan.
The approach he might take: Snyder knows how to make a fun film and I believe he will follow the Sam Raimi and Jon Favreau model did with Spider-man and Iron Man: serious but fun and colorful. His version of Superman will be action-packed.
Suitability for the Role: 9/10
Notable Films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Killing Room
Pros: Jonathan Liebesman is a ambitious, young director and studios are taking notice. Battle: Los Angeles is a highly anticipated film and because of it, Liebesman landed the gig to direct Clash of the Titans II. Being South African, Liebesman can add an international interpretation to the Superman story.
Cons: Out of all the directors on the shortlist he has the least impressive filmography, a long list of weak horror films. The Clash of the Titans II shoot would clash (no punt intended) with the Superman reboot, so he will have to choose between the two.
The approach he might take: It is a difficult one to call because Liebesman is a horror director and has done little else. But Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson have made successful blockbuster films after making horror films and if Battle: Los Angeles is a good sci-fi film then he could be a strong fit for Superman. He would properly place Superman in a gritty world, but still keep a playful scene in the film.
Suitability for the Job: 6/10
Notable Films: Requiem for a Dream, The Foundtain, The Wrestler
Pros: Darren Aronofsky comes from a very similar background Christopher Nolan, making very interesting indie films. He is highly respected by studios and audiences and his films are renowned for gritty stories and settings and excellent acting: he has a great eye for casting. He also works closely with writers, writing the script for Requiem of the Dream with Hebert Selby Jr. and an adaptation of Batman: Year One with Frank Miller.
Cons: Like Jones and Reeves, Aronofsky is a dark storyteller which may not fit with the lighter nature of Superman. He has been burned when attached to blockbuster films like Batman and RoboCop and he is also linked to “Wolverine 2.”
The approach he might take: Because of his nature to focus on a character development he can make an origins films, with Superman offering a ray of light in a crime-filled, war torn world.
Suitability for the Role: 8/10