The MCU has a lot of different directors, but they often end up having similar visual styles. There are very few dyed-in-the-wool Horror directors (save someone like Sam Raimi) and few MCU directors who stand out wildly in the MCU’s unified aesthetic. If Marvel is to evolve post-Endgame, they’re going to need talented and unique directors. So here are 10 directors we’d love to see in the MCU next and the projects we’d like to see them direct.
Guillermo del Toro – Ghost Rider
Guillermo del Toro is the legendary director behind Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and Hellboy. The latter especially is what makes him a good choice for a Ghost Rider movie. His time directing Hellboy has given him experience in other occult or mystical comic book heroes that would be invaluable for creating a movie about Ghost Rider, who himself is steeped in the mystical side of Marvel. Guillermo del Toro is also a very competent director in his own right whose style will help bring a unique aesthetic to the MCU which has generally been a good thing in the Marvel universe.
As a renowned horror director known for his creature design, del Toro would be a great choice to bring Ghost Rider’s iconic look to the screen, as the Rider is supposed to be a barely controlled and terrifying force. A Guillermo del Toro directed Ghost Rider would almost certainly be visually unforgettable. Considering the demons or other monsters Ghost Rider ends up fighting it would also give the director a chance to flex his creature design muscles.
Alex Garland – Silver Surfer
As someone who beautifully brought out trauma through cosmic horror in the adaptation of Annihilation, Alex Garland would be perfect to create a movie about the Herald of Galactus. Galactus and the Silver Surfer are both wounded entities, suffering from the destruction, or potential destruction, of everything they knew.
Galactus was the resident of a previous universe who survived the destruction of his entire reality only to be reborn as a cosmic vacuum. The Silver Surfer is searching for suitable worlds for him to devour only because Galactus spares his own home world. Both of these figures are cosmically powerful, yet they’re both defined by trauma and feed, respectively.
Though Galactus has traditionally taken on an anthropomorphic form, he is anything but human, and the Silver Surfer likely has to deal with the reality of his own changed biology. This is similar to how, in Annihilation, the humans who enter the Shimmer have to deal with their own changing reality and biology.
A cosmic horror take on the Silver Surfer could be just what the character needs to resonate with audiences. This could work especially well if the movie delved into the reasons why the Silver Surfer eventually decides to turn away from serving Galactus and instead becomes a hero.
Mike Flanagan – The Immortal Hulk
In many ways, the Hulk is a horror monster, as neither he nor his transformations can be controlled. Though he would fight against villains even in the early days, in Hulk comics there is a sense that he is the real monster everyone should be scared of. For Banner he is his living personal nightmare in green flesh where the rage he bottles up inside him during his life is unleashed and raw, like an open wound. Most modern Marvel movies which include the Hulk don’t really delve into this horrific aspect of the character. Instead the Hulk, especially in She-Hulk and Endgame, is under Banner’s control in the MCU and this somewhat deflates the tension set up earlier in the MCU where Banner had to control his internal monster.
Much of the character stems from the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which Hyde represents an uncontrollable and dark part of his personality which comes out. In the case of Banner, that dark part is his anger. A psychological horror would be perfect for a hulk movie, especially if you were to adapt the recent Immortal Hulk storyline. Alternately you could also have a Banner who is still getting used to being the Hulk. Mike Flanagan would be a solid choice for that kind of horror.
While he normally tackles occult horror rather than sci-fi horror, with the Haunting series dealing with spiritual ghosts, the Hulk is sometimes associated with more cosmic or mystic things in the Marvel universe like the One Bellow All.
Edgar Wright – X-Men: Xavier’s Academy
Though in the Marvel context Edgar Wright is known more for being the first person considered for MCU’s Ant-Man before Peyton Reed eventually got to helm it, we feel the X-Men would be a better fit for his style.
The Fox X-Men movies existed in a time when superheroes had to try and be more gritty and realistic to appeal to a mass audience. However, we live in a post Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok world. Superhero movies have to be more stylized to get our attention. Edgar Wright would be a great choice for a series or movie about the young X-Men trying to learn about their powers. His directing style is one of the most distinctive and he knows how to make a world that is aesthetically similar to a comic book, as proven by his adaptation of the Scott Pilgrim comics.
Edgar Wright also does comedic dialogue extraordinarily well, making scenes full of snappy and stylized conversation full of jokes and quirky characters. In the X-Men, which is a roster full of colourful characters, someone like Edgar Wright would be perfect to bring them all to life. We’d expect him to channel his work on Scott Pilgrim more than the Cornetto Trilogy, though his talent for violent humor would also work for anything with Deadpool. The only question is whether or not he can do the more serious prejudice drama that X-Men often requires.
Edgar Wright is traditionally capable of weaving compelling character drama into his movies, but whether or not he can tackle something like the anti-mutant prejudice that is the beating heart of the X-Men remains to be seen.
Wes Anderson – Howard the Duck
Wes Anderson isn’t just the best choice for a second try at Howard the Duck, he is perhaps the only choice. Howard the Duck is a duck from another dimension who came to ours by mystic accident and now works as a private detective. The original Howard the Duck movie, from 1986, was a fairly dismal failure that has tainted the idea of adapting the extremely wacky side of comics. However, perhaps now in a world where Spider-Ham can star in an Oscar-winning movie, it’s time to let Howard the Duck shine with a strong director like Wes Anderson at the helm.
Wes Anderson’s style is perhaps the only one that can pull off the wacky nature of Howard’s entire existence without losing the heart necessary for us to be on board with the extradimensional anthropomorphic private-eye duck. His stop motion projects like Isle of Dogs or the Fantastic Mr Fox are the sorts of things we’d expect he’d take inspiration from for a Howard the Duck feature. His private eye aesthetic would be perfect for Wes Anderson’s habit of playing with anachronism and his name is big enough and he’s talented enough that people will perhaps forget that the last Howard the Duck movie was a dismal, shocking failure.
Robert Rodrigez – Defenders
Bringing the Defenders back to the MCU after the Netflix universe collapsed is a challenge. How much of the storylines of the Netflix shows is going to come with them? Is the original Defender’s team-up canon? These are thorny questions that will have to be untangled the more Disney dips into the Defenders’ roster. However, once they do bring back some combination of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and/or Daniel Rand the question is going to be whether or not they bring back the Defenders. There’s also the question of how to blend together the four heroes’ different storylines and styles.
Robert Rodrigez is perhaps an option to take on that challenge. His work on Sin City shows he can do stylized comic book street-level action and he has some experience with superheroes, given his work on Sharkboy and Lavagirl and Spy Kids. He’s shown he has a broad range of styles. He can do colorful kids movies or dark and gritty Frank Miller adaptations. This adaptability will help him blend together the tones of the four superheroes when they meet in a prospective Defenders series or movie.
Brad Bird – Spider-Man and the X-Men
Brad Bird not working on an MCU project is very confusing. He worked on The Incredibles, which was an excellent deconstruction of superhero tropes that still managed to be an effective superhero movie. While some may say that his time with the Incredibles would make him a good director for a Fantastic Four movie, instead we suggest a different possibility. Much of The Incredibles deals with natural-born superheroes who have to deal with prejudice while also wishing to help their fellow man. Which is very similar to the X-Men’s premise.
Marvel came out with a comic in 2014 which stars Spider-Man as a teacher in Xavier’s academy, having to help a class full of the more eccentric and difficult of Xavier’s students. This would be a perfect story for Brad Bird to adapt because it leans into both the strengths of the original Incredibles: Comedy and Heart. Spider-Man’s “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” mantra would have fit perfectly in the Incredibles world, and getting the chance to teach the X-Men would be great. This would, however, likely have to be a semi-cannon affair, much like the MCU’s What If? series, as Spidey isn’t really at the point where he could teach an X-Men class in the MCU proper and if they wanted to play to Brad Bird’s strengths it would have to be an animated movie.
Peter Jackson – Black Knight
The MCU has always shied away from the more fantastical elements of the Marvel Universe. Even the mystic arts of Doctor Strange are presented in a way that’s not too aesthetically challenging to the MCU’s sci-fi roots. This has begun to change a tad, with the introduction of Shang-Chi and Moon Knight, so perhaps fantasy is a genre that the MCU may begin to lean in. There’s no better director to do that with than Peter Jackson, and Black Knight would be perfect to help people into the more fantastical side of the MCU.
Peter Jackson already has experience dealing with a fantastical character fighting against the temptations of a cursed magical object. Kit Harrington is already playing Black Knight in the MCU, though he has yet to get his trademark Ebony Blade. Black Knight could be a way for the MCU to explore more explicitly fantasy material, and there’s perhaps no one better at the visuals and spectacle of fantasy than Peter Jackson. There’s even the possibility of going into an entire other fantasy world that exists in the Marvel universe, as Dane Whitman has ended up stranded in a fantasy world before.
Drew Goddard – Spider-Man
Spider-Man has had to deal with a lot of cosmic and multiversal stuff recently, so it may be time to get him back where he’s most comfortable: Swinging around the streets of New York and beating up various colorfully costumed villains. If there’s anyone who can do justice to Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery, one of the best in Marvel, then it’s Netflix Daredevil series creator Drew Goddard. A more grounded and realistic Spider-Man would be great to see for a movie or two.
There are plenty of Spidey villains left to play with. Kraven the Hunter would be a great street-level opponent for Peter. Drew Goddard would likely be able to make Kraven hunting Peter tense and nail-biting, much like the early days were for Matt Murdock when he was just starting to fight against Wilson Fisk’s operation. There’s also Chameleon, who would be a really interesting low-power villain to fight for the same reason, it would be very tense for the audience and difficult for Spider to fight him head to head.
Rian Johnson – A Marvel Murder Mystery
Murder mysteries and the superhero movie genre haven’t really mixed together much before, which is strange. Both are usually very archetypical stories that deal with crime, punishment, and notions of justice. Detectives can often make deductions that seem downright superheroic and there are plenty of powers that would be great for cracking hard cases like mind reading or supervision. There are also plenty of detective superheroes.
With Rian Johnson bringing back the detective procedural, it would be great to see him do a Knives Out style murder mystery movie. Misty Knight would be a great character for it, a martial artist and a detective with a metal arm. Jamie Madrox, the multiple man, could also be a great choice. Perhaps even a small superhero team that gets together to investigate superpowered crime. Whether they bring an obscure character to the fore or they create their own superhero team Marvel would be tapping into something interesting and new with this idea, and Rian Johnson has already worked with Disney before.
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