Michel Gondry is taking over the job of directing Green Hornet.
The Eternal Sunshine/Be Kind Rewind dreamweaver feels more suited to the free-wheeling, endlessly inventive, non-merchandised world of indie pics.
But he's not the first leftfield choice to take on a big-budget, high-risk superhero flick...
Here's some other directors who've made the move from art house to multiplex...
The Director: Alex Proyas
The Film: The Crow (1994)
Before They Took The Job: Few people knew about Proyas, who took a familiar route through music videos, adverts and short films to his first feature, Spirits of the Air, Gremlins Of The Clouds.
How Did It Work Out? The Crow is a moody, romantic and dark adaptation of James O’Barr’s comic adventure that still stands up today.
We’re frankly bemused as why it needs to be remade, but that’s not stopping producer Edward Pressman and director Steven Norrington.
How It Could Have Gone: In a scene new to fans of the graphic novel, our Crow anti-hero straps on a pair of Nikes, takes a swig of Coke from one hand and a swig of Pepsi from the other, turns to the camera, and says 'Just do it. The real choice for a new generation." while his criminal foes look on, totally baffled.[page-break]
The Director: Chris Nolan
The Film: Batman Begins (2005)
Before They Took The Job: Nolan’s career swung between ultra low-budget drama (Following), cryptic indie thrillers (Memento) and one big studio film (Insomnia).
How Did It Work Out? Terribly. Batman Begins was a camp horror-show that invoked the worst of the Adam West era. As for the neon-soaked mess that was The Dark Knight, it was so bad it had Batfans campaigning for Joel Schumacher's return to the franchise.
Oh, no, wait a minute. They were brilliant, weren't they?
How It Could Have Gone: In a scene new to the fans of the comic-book series, Batman loses his memory and starts tattooing Robin with stuff like directions to the Batcave, how many one-armed push-ups he can do before toppling over, and the location of his Bat-Credit Card (in the top drawer of the Bat-Desk, just by the Bat-Computer).
The Director: Warren Beatty
The Film: Dick Tracy (1990)
Before They Took The Job: Back in the days when he was still a huge star, Beatty set up his own projects, segueing from leading man to writer (Shampoo) and then the likes of Reds and Heaven Can Wait.
How Did It Work Out? It might not be well judged against more modern superhero pics – mostly remembered for its OTT make-up and performances to match – but it was a huge box office success.
Beatty, however, never quite matched the success of the film and didn’t take another stab at the Tracy universe. Neither has anyone else, for that matter.
How It Could Have Gone: In a break from the original series, Beatty decides to put the penis into Dick Tracy, restyling every villain as a sexy lady in revealing clothing.
So, Flattop becomes Nicerack, Mumbles becomes Fumbles and Lips Manlis turns into Tits McGee. Fans aren't keen on Tracy's new catchphrase, "What's new pussycat?"[page-break]
The Director: Ang Lee
The Film: Hulk (2003)
Before They Took The Job: The likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense And Sensibility, The Ice Storm and earlier work like Eat, Drink Man Woman showed huge ability.
How Did It Work Out? While it looked like he could do anything, Lee’s take on Marvel’s not-so-jolly green giant divided audiences. Some liked his philosophical take, while others found it slow, confusing and awkward.
Lee quickly moved on and bounced back to his strength with Brokeback Mountain, while Marvel decided to reboot the character.
How It Could Have Gone: General Ross and The Hulk go into the hills together and bum in a tent. In a franchise-killing ending, Hulk dies, leaving Ross to cry into his stretchy purple trousers.
The Director: Jon Favreau
The Film: Iron Man (2008)
Before They Took The Job: He’d appeared in a couple of superhero movies (Daredevil, Batman Forever) and a supercool buddy movie (Swingers) but his directing work consisted of comedy dramas like Made, excellent Christmas comedy Elf and underrated adventure Zathura. That said, the last two gave him effects experience.
How Did It Work Out? If The Dark Knight hadn’t arrived on the scene, Iron Man would’ve been the most successful – and was definitely the most fun – superhero adventure of the year.
Here’s hoping the casting troubles befalling the sequel don’t lead to a disappointing follow-up.
How It Could Have Gone: Tony Stark is a charming, swaggering drunk with a twinkly eye for the ladies, a witty best buddy and a nice line in super-suits. Wait, that's exactly how it did go. Nice work, Fav.[page-break]
The Director: Tim Burton
The Film: Batman (1989)
Before They Took The Job: Before Nolan, there was the man behind Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetle Juice had put his stylistic stamp on everything he’d done. But could that be adapted to a huge-budget superhero adventure?
How Did It Work Out? It wasn’t perfect, but Burton’s industrial gothic take on Batman (and his well-chosen casting of Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne) helped launch a massively successful series of films.
Batman Returns had a good cast, but didn't connect with audiences in the same way and Burton never returned to Gotham city.
How It Could Have Gone: Batman trades in his car for a bicycle, and rides 'round Gotham City cheering everyone up. When Bats stops off at a magic shop, and the Joker steals his bike, Batman dedicates his life to fighting crime and committing pratfalls. Fans openly weep in the streets.
The Director: Bryan Singer
The Film: X-Men (2000)
Before They Took The Job: While he’d proved he could handle tricky subjects and big casts with The Usual Suspects, nothing in Bryan Singer’s background suggested he’d be a natural for a studio superhero project.
How Did It Work Out? Singer launched a franchise that balanced deep themes (identity, prejudice) with some solid action sequences, particularly in the second film.
Still, he should have stayed away from Superman.
How It Could Have Gone: In a total break from comic-book history, Singer decided to make Wolverine the villain, with Magneto's character reduced to a bit of misdirection by Hugh Jackman. The film ends with Wolverine walking away from a police station, as his claws ever-so-slowly pop out of his knuckles.[page-break]
The Director: Kenneth Branagh
The Film: Thor (2010)
Before They Took The Job: Branagh specialised in Shakespearean adaptations such as Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing. He stumbled with Frankenstein, though.
How Did It Work Out? Marvel clearly has faith in him – some of the comics’ company’s top talent has given him the stamp of approval. We're expecting Thor to be an epic, wordy affair, with thudding action sequences. Frankly, we can't wait.
How It Could Go: Thor moves to England and discovers a predilection for wearing tight corsets, whilst saying stuff like 'verily, forsooth, and where's my massive hammer?'
Liked This? Then see:
- 10 Comic-Book Heroines That Should Have Their Own Movie
- 7 Insane Comics That Will Never Be Movies
- Exclusive: Why Alan Moore Hates Comic-Book Movies
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