Players Wanted: Batman 3's Possible Directors

Which filmmakers top our wish list of Nolan's possible replacements?

June 22, 2009 - It's not something we want to think about, but it's something we all should prepare ourselves for: the possibility that Christopher Nolan may not come back to direct Batman 3. I know, I know, we tear up, too, with big, sad geek tears. It's not an announcement we're looking forward to, but last week's rumor about Nolan's role in Batman 3 forced us to go to DEFCON 2.

With that said, it's a safe bet that Warner Bros. has a short list of possible replacements, five brave directors who have the unenviable task of taking over where Nolan left off, and delivering the most anticipated comic book movie on our geekdar. IGN Movies took a guess as to which names are on the top of that short list, and thankfully, no Brett Ratners or McGs are anywhere near it.

We based our selections on directors who have good-to-great ties with the studio, who could adapt their styles well to the world Nolan has established and could make the fanbase happy…ish. Again, this is just a wish-list, and should be taken as such. (But we look forward to the comments speaking contrary to that anyway…) While we are from "in case of emergency, break glass", it's never too early to think ahead.

David Yates

If box office and fan reaction are any indication, then David Yates' work with the Harry Potter franchise is a good indicator that the guy just might be on the top of Warners' short-list.

Yates' films exhibit his skill at finding the balance between being faithful to the source material and how to make a movie first and foremost. And before he was casting spells at Hogwarts, Yates directed the riveting political thriller State of Play for BBC television, which the recent film was based on. One look at that resume and fans can see that he can handle dense and dark material, and not just CG spectacle, which will come in handy should Batman 3 land on his desk.

His filmmaking sensibilities aren't as polished as Nolan's, but Yates seems up to the challenge. Potter fans surpass Batman legions in their fan reaction, but both are equally tough to please. Should Yates answer the call (which will come via Bat Signal, 'cause that's how WB rolls), he'll have to prove to both masses that he can deliver on the unique brand of dramatic spectacle and tension The Dark Knight established.

Zack Snyder

Say what you will about Watchmen, but it proved that Snyder is adept at handling the scope of a world as big as Batman 3's would inhabit. And 300 made so much money they needed to come up with a new denomination to count it all, so there's that. With Rorschach and company's live-action exploits bringing in less bank than the studio may have counted on, Warner Bros. may not be as firmly placed on the side of Team Snyder as they once were. But the suits are still stepping over the piles of money Snyder made for them, which is a plus.

The studio also likes the fact that the very mention of his name amongst fanboy circles garners more "Yeas" than "mehs." His name is a draw and his films are visually interesting, but he'll have to prove to Nolan's Batman fans that he can do an action scene without speeding up/slowing down the camera. That he can be subtle, as this take on Batman emphasizes a certain regard for the less-is-more approach to big screen entertainment.

Snyder will also have to remind audiences that before he was playing in the big sandbox, he made a little movie like the Dawn of the Dead remake that juggled character and popcorn entertainment arguably better than his most recent efforts. Assuming Snyder can still tap his former, less gimmicky sensibilities, and put the story front and center, he may just find his name etched on the back of the sequel's director's chair.

Darren Aronofsky

Before Nolan inherited the property, Aronofsky's name was on a short-list of contenders worthy of taking movie audiences back to the Batcave and resurrecting the Caped Crusader from his neon, Schumacher exploits. But if the Batman: Year One script Aronofsky was rumored to be working from is any indication, fans were spared a crime on par with Schumacher's work, one that would have made Alfred a mechanic named "Big Al" and Selina Kyle a prostitute Bruce Wayne takes a liking to. (Cringe.)

But with Aronofsky's recent return to form with The Wrestler, the guy's name could surface again on a similar list. Of all the potential candidates mentioned so far, Aronofsky has the most in common with the mantle he is poised to inherit. Like Nolan, he comes from an independent background, with emphasis on dark and divided anti-heroes. His style is also similar to Nolan's as well. Dark Knight left us with a Batman on the run from the very city he vowed to save, from a world he'll have a hard time proving that he is the hero it both needs and deserves. If Aronofsky can handle Bruce Wayne's redemption as well and as dramatically satisfying as he handled Randy the Ram's, then expect Batman 3 to be in exceptional hands. In fact, we suggest Warners put him on retainer now before that questionable RoboCop remake gets too far into production.

Alfonso Cuarón

The Prisoner of Azkaban's director had the then-unfortunate task of taking over for a franchise two films in, a task similar to those on the Batman tip are facing now. Cuarón stepped up to the plate with a take on Potter's world that seemed effortless and polished, considering this was his first big-budget film. Cuarón could possibly do the same thing again and deliver.

Since Azkaban, Cuarón has gone the serious route, helming the underrated futuristic drama Children of Men, proving he can negotiate more serious fare set against the backdrop of a very dystopian setting. Last time we saw Gotham, it was on the brink of chaos thanks to Joker, and its best protector was wanted for the murder of five victims we still can't quite account for. The stage for Batman 3 seems appropriate for a man of Cuarón's sensibilities to take over. He never puts style over story, and that should be a key asset to anyone considering the guy for the job. Should he get it, maybe he can explain to us how those "five murders Batman takes the fall for" adds up.

George Miller

We hear ya: Yes, he did direct Happy Feet. But before that, he made the Mad Max films and was this close to launching a big-screen Justice League movie last year. Miller has a solid relationship with the studio, one that spans decades, so it shouldn't be a surprise that his name would appear on a replacement hitter list.

After what we heard about the story and the look of Miller's proposed JLA project, we're kind of glad that didn't see fruition. It sounded like the problem with that project was satisfying a release date window first and the story second. Should Miller inherit the keys to Wayne Manor, fans can expect the exact opposite treatment aimed at the Dark Knight; with word that the next film might not hit until 2012, the last thing the studio seems to want to do is rush the film and get it wrong.

Miller has a very deliberate, very lean directorial style, something that could ease the transition for the better in the audiences' eyes. Miller may not be fandom's first choice, but we'd take the guy who gave us Road Warrior over anyone's name ending in "McG" any day.


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