Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara announced that Walter Hamada, creative and leader of Warner’s horror division (behind films like The Conjuring, IT and Annabelle) would come to head up their DC division. Hamada promised “a new era” for DC Films. So far, he seems to be delivering. Not only are Aquaman, Wonder Woman 1984 and Shazam! three of the most anticipated comic book films, with star-studded casts and critically acclaimed directors (James Wan, Patty Jenkins and David F. Sandberg), Hamada fired Joss Whedon and brought on some of the biggest-name directors in Hollywood right now, as well as some newcomer surprises. He turned heads with the announcements that Ava DuVernay would helm WB’s New Gods film, a personal favorite for DuVernay; Steven Spielberg would join the DCEU on Blackhawk, a story about World War II soldiers; and Margot Robbie’s girl gang film, rated R and known tentatively as an adaptation of Birds of Prey, would be helmed by Asian female director Cathy Yan.
There are so many films in development at DC right now – some of whom have been announced for years – and one has to admit that it will be a tough task to get all these films made within the next ten years. But if Hamada keeps making choices as strong as the ones he’s made thus far, it will be an exciting time for filmmakers in Hollywood who want to play with risky properties. Here is my personal take on directors I would love to see in upcoming DC films.
1. Cyborg – directed by Barry Jenkins
It seemed, for a while there, like Warner Bros’ planned Cyborg film wasn’t going to happen. With a release date set for 2020 and no one attached besides Ray Fisher (who appeared as the character in Justice League) and Joe Morton (who played his father, Silas Stone), things were looking bleak for the film. But just a few months ago during an interview for the final season of Scandal, Joe Morton confirmed that as far as he knows, a Cyborg film is still in development.
Though it cannot be argued that DC beat Marvel to the punch in terms of representation for women with Wonder Woman, their representation for people of color has been lacking a bit. Now, that’s going to change with the first Polynesian superhero this fall when Aquaman hits theaters, but progress still needs to be made. Cyborg is not only a founding member of the DCEU version of the Justice League, but Ray Fisher plays the character so earnestly and wonderfully, he deserves a film to really show off his acting talent – and who better to direct it than the director of Moonlight himself?
Filmmaker-writer Barry Jenkins only has two films to his name as of yet (the upcoming If Beale Street Could Talk is also his) and they are both heady, gorgeous works of art that depict the Black experience in stunning ways. Medicine for Melancholy was simply about a couple and their adventures; Moonlight’s Best Picture Oscar should speak for itself. Jenkins is fabulous at emotion and resonance, which Fisher’s storyline should have. Also, he does a great job with the more intense moments, so I think he would be able to pull off the complex superhero action sequences. Hire him, Warner Bros!
2. Green Lantern Corps – directed by Peter Jackson
It’s long been rumored at this point that Warner Bros. wants Peter Jackson – famous director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies – on their team yet again for a DC adaptation. And it makes sense – not only did Jackson bring them billions of dollars at the box office with his Middle-earth films, but fans love him and he’s a very revered and respected director. So, if Peter Jackson’s going to join the DCEU, I think Green Lantern Corps would be a perfect fit for him.
Jackson has already proven he can handle epic, sprawling tales with lots of characters, and I think a Green Lantern film should be just that. He would deliver killer visuals and amazing action sequences, and just imagine the screenplay – I already know the relationship between the Lanterns would be well-developed and well-written. Plus, just the idea of Peter Jackson directing a DC film is enough to make a lot of people buy a ticket.
3. Man of Steel 2 – directed by Christopher McQuarrie
This will probably happen for real, and I would be very happy if it did. If you’re not familiar, McQuarrie is the director of the last few Mission Impossible films. He’s the director of Fallout, the latest installment in the franchise, which caused a lot of controversy for its insistence that Henry Cavill keep his mustache for his role (hey, he looks good in the trailers, so at least there’s that). But this makes so much sense the more I think about it that I’ve decided it would be a perfect idea.
Not only is McQuarrie a wonderful filmmaker (I mean, the Mission Impossible films have just gotten better and better with each installment), but I think he would get the Superman character, and be able to play to what everyone likes about Zack Snyder’s incarnation: the flawed realism in depicting a modern Superman, and how hated and feared he would be if he really existed. I think McQuarrie can depict this while also hanging onto the good guy, Boy Scout version of the character that so many people love. And just imagine the fighting. Come on. It’s a no-brainer!
4. Justice League Dark – directed by Jordan Peele
Peele’s horror career is on fire right now. Of course I’m talking about Get Out, which was not only a great film about race relations but started wonderful conversations about liberal racism, interracial dating and more. And more than that, the film was made for just $5 million – but you would never be able to tell that, from how gorgeous it looks.
Imagine the bold visuals of Suicide Squad, but with magic, heart, and genuine stakes. Peele could deliver that in his sleep. Not only that, the team would surely have a diverse cast – and I think that’s what it takes for Justice League Dark to truly be successful. I’m not sure this is still on Warner Bros’ radar, after their announcement that they’re trying to focus more on the Justice League (as they should), but if they still want to make it, I would get Peele on the phone ASAP.
5. Batgirl – directed by Dee Rees
After reading the horrible mess that was Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman script (and witnessing firsthand the travesty of justice that was his depiction of Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as the numerous butt and cleavage shots of Wonder Woman in Justice League), we can only cross our fingers and toes and pray to thank the movie gods that Whedon wasn’t allowed to make a Batgirl film. I can only imagine the skin-tight Batgirl suit, the “I can do what a man can’t!” attitude, and the cringey close-up shots. No thank you.
Warner Bros. has committed to hiring female filmmakers for their female-driven projects (as they should), and I think Dee Rees would be a perfect choice. She’s a wonderful storyteller (see her debut, Pariah, about a young lesbian who has to tell her mother the truth about her sexuality) and is great at depicting epic family stories (Mudbound nearly won her an Oscar). She’s a fabulous filmmaker, and she can bring the drama and gravitas to a Batgirl movie. And if it’s true that they’re going for a non-white Batgirl, I already know Dee Rees would have the perfect casting choice.
6. Lobo – directed by Tim Miller
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Deadpool movie, but a lot of people liked it – and my problems were much more with the script than Tim Miller’s direction. I think he’s a wonderful director, and he has a willingness to play along that would definitely suit a Lobo adaptation.
Lobo was announced to be in the works years ago, and they’ve had yet to do anything with it – but this seems obvious to me. It would be DC’s answer to Deadpool – another wise-cracking anti-hero – and if done right, it could be a wonderful film. There was rumors, a while back, that Michael Bay might direct this – but I would much prefer Tim Miller. If there was a property at DC for him, it’s this one.
7. Gotham City Sirens – directed by Greta Gerwig
There’s already a Birds of Prey movie in development, so DC might be hesitant to move forward with Gotham City Sirens now – but to me, that sounds like printing money. It’s such an obvious idea – a film where Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy and Catwoman team up to take down a bad guy (the Joker, perhaps?) is something that I think everyone on the face of the earth would see. As much as I want a Suicide Squad sequel, I would personally be willing to put that on hold for this – let it come directly after Birds of Prey, which would give Harley Quinn a three-movie arc.
As for Greta Gerwig, she’s a critical darling after her work on Lady Bird, and she’s a wonderful woman who understands female representation in Hollywood. I think her and Margot Robbie would make a great team, and Gotham City Sirens from her sounds like a thrilling adventure. Give it to me!
8. Black Adam – directed by Denis Villeneuve
There’s rumors going around that Denis Villeneuve is one of the big directors DC is attempting to court for one of their films – and I think that Black Adam would be a wonderful match with the director (as long as Warner is trying to go in the direction of the comics with a more serious adaptation). Imagine the visuals of Villeneuve’s Egypt – a barren, yet still beautiful place, hollow with the deaths of Adam’s family.
Injustice 2 proved that Black Adam is a much cooler character than people give him credit for, with his fighting style being one of the many highlights of that game. It convinced me to be excited for a Black Adam movie. If DC’s going to make one – and if they get this guy to direct it – I’d definitely be excited.
9. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle – directed by Taika Waititi
This hasn’t been officially announced by Warner Bros. just yet, but there have been several rumors that they want to make a movie with these two, an action buddy comedy, and it makes perfect sense. They’re fan favorites in the comics, and I think we all want to see them brought to life – and who better to do it than Taika Waititi himself?
Now, I know what you’re thinking – isn’t he firmly in the Marvel camp, after Thor Ragnarok? Personally, I don’t think Waititi would pass up the opportunity to direct a film like this, especially if he could put his own comedic stamp on it the way he did with Ragnarok. Waititi jokes coming out of Booster Gold’s mouth – the material almost writes itself at that point.
10. Steel – directed by Boots Riley
Sure, I know what you’re thinking. Warner Bros. hasn’t done anything with the character of John Henry Irons, aka Steel, since the 1997 adaptation starring Shaquille O’Neal – and we all know how bad that was. But this came to mind while I was thinking of the future of the DCEU, and the idea seemed so obvious that I can’t believe no one has thought of it.
People have suggested that a Cyborg film could be DC’s answer to Black Panther. And while it very well could in terms of representing a Black superhero in a solo title, I don’t think that character could have a storyline that is as all-encompassing with its Blackness as Black Panther did – African culture was literally the through-line in that movie. But Steel could. The character has a history of activism in the comics – his son and wife were killed by the Ku Kux Klan in one issue – and when you realize that, the story begins to take shape perfectly.
Just imagine a Wonder Woman style film, set during the Civil Rights Era, with John Henry Irons as a laboring scientist who loses his family to the Klan. Frustrated and distraught by their loss, he works on technology that allows him to become the Steel – and goes after the people who wronged him, all while being a voice for his community. It’s so many properties at once – Black Panther, Black Lightning, Luke Cage – and the idea of seeing a Black superhero kick KKK ass is too tantalizing to resist.
Boots Riley has received a lot of praise for his work on his debut film Sorry to Bother You, which stars Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson and is set to come out later this year. Why not bring him aboard the DCEU? And if we can get Sterling K Brown to play John Henry, I think this could be a Wonder Woman level phenomenon.
These are my suggestions for DC’s upcoming slate of films. If they’re even half this good, we’ll be in for quite a few treats – let’s hope that the positive energy Walter Hamada is bringing into the DC brand lasts for a long time.