A recent trend among production houses to develop the next big blockbusters has been hiring up-and-coming indie directors to lead them. This experiment has brought on mixed results. For every Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman), there’s a Josh Trank (Fantastic Four ).
These new collaborations work best when the directors are allowed to create something of their own vision. We’ve all seen what happens when the studios try to take control, (#releasethesnydercut anyone?) and while many have criticized Marvel movies for their feeling of sameness, they haven’t been afraid to let new people play around in their billion-dollar toy chest.
In 2017 alone, we had Jon Watts make the 80th Webhead reboot stand out by making it a high school comedy and Taika Waititi flipped the Thor franchise on its head, making fans’ opinions of the character do a 180-degree turn.
The point is this: There are gifted directors who may not have household names but have worldwide vision for what could make the next big CBM. They need a partner, a hero to build around.
Here are 8 directors and 8 heroes. It’s Tinder for fancasting nerds. Enjoy.
Jeremy Saulnier | ‘Ronin’
Throughout Avengers: Endgame, we learned our favorite characters evolved drastically in a five-year time jump. None of those changes are quite as dramatically engaging as Hawkeye becoming a revenge-fueled murder machine known as Ronin. This would also fuel director Jeremy Saulnier‘s filmography.
His movies are infamous for their brutal and harsh violence along with their riveting tension. A Ronin film would be the perfect bridge into new chapters of the MCU by taking a character with whom we are already familiar and being the darkest entry in the universe. This allows fans to ease into possible R-ratings for more than just language.
Hold the Dark (2018) and Green Room (2015) showed us that Saulnier can handle captivating action sequences. Among his films, Blue Ruin (2013) showcased his fascination with human behavior in the midst of having no options, nothing to lose. This would make Saulnier the perfect man to tell Ronin’s story.
Lynne Ramsay | ‘Moon Knight’
Lynne Ramsay is no stranger to characters that have a world of activity going on in their heads. In 2017, she gave us You Were Never Really Here, a film that succeeds at putting you in the head of a disturbed vigilante with PTSD. In her film, We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011), Ramsay investigates the combating minds of a mother and her evil child.
Recent adaptations of the Moon Knight character have depicted Marc Spector as a crazed vigilante with multiple personalities and pasts (and futures). Ramsay’s tendency to present her features in a non-linear fashion would beautifully illustrate the mind of Moon Knight. The dark tones and striking visuals of her filmography would make Moon Knight stand out in the MCU as a psychological thriller cloaked in a cape.
Coralie Fargeat | ‘Blade’ (Fallon Grey)
Blade is a character whose presence has already graced the silver screen, but did you know in the comics he has a daughter? Her name is Fallon Grey and while she never got a chance in the comics, she could have a chance on the big screen.
To make a Blade movie not feel like a rehash, it would be nice to see a different version of the character. She would fit nicely in the MCU as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D dealing with the supernatural–vampires, zombies, and ghouls all bringing buckets of blood and horror. That comes with Coralie Fargeat, who is considered hot off her directorial debut, Revenge (2017).
Revenge is equal parts horrifying and awesome. The film follows a woman on her quest to bloodily dispose of a man who has raped her and left her for dead. The action is gory and exhilarating. Based on this movie alone, you can tell Coralie has a visual style all her own. Blade could be Marvel’s first attempt at horror and Coralie would be sure to make Fallon Grey would grow up as one of the most badass characters in the franchise.
Brie Larson | ‘A-Force’
A-Force is basically ‘The Female Avengers.’ What better person to direct the film than Captain Marvel herself? Yes, you may know Brie Larson as one of the MCU’s most powerful heroes. However, you may not know that she is a director with one indie movie under her belt.
That movie is Unicorn Store (2017) — a story about a girl named Kit who realizes she doesn’t have to go through life alone and can rely on others to help her get through the hardest times. This quest in life is something anyone joining a team would have to learn. It’s safe to assume Brie has picked up a thing or two on how to helm a movie of this magnitude. She has worked on two of them already. If Unicorn Store is any indication, maybe Brie can bring some much needed heart to a movie of this scale.
Barry Jenkins | ‘Ironheart’
Barry Jenkins may be the most well-known name on this list second to Brie Larson. After all, his second feature, Moonlight (2016) managed to nab three Oscars in 2017 (e.g., Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay). All of Jenkins’ films deal with hard truths about the world we live in while also being character driven and personal.
The Iron Man franchise has a history of dealing with real-world issues like gun violence and PTSD. Gun violence killed Riri Williams’ father and best friend, which will haunt her for the rest of her life. Riri Williams is a teen engineering student who was inspired by Stark enough to create a suit all on her own, labeling herself Iron Heart. Post Endgame, the world needs a new Iron Man and more relatable heroes.
Jenkins could give us a tangible superhero movie–one we’re not used to seeing and could touch on important issues. If Barry was writing and directing a character in this universe, it will become your new favorite. His film making technique allows you to sink into a character’s world while also learning something about your own.
Kumail Nanjiani | ‘Ms. Marvel’
This may be seen as a cheat since Kumail Nanjiani has never actually directed a film before, but he has co-wrote, starred, and had major creative control over 2017’s indie rom-com hit (based on his actual love life), The Big Sick.
The movie gives insight into some of Kumail’s own struggles living as a Pakistani American with Muslim parents in modern America. The film deals with themes of heritage and growth, all things plaguing Ms. Marvel’s life.
Kamala Khan is one of Marvel’s newest characters who became Ms. Marvel after her dormant powers are activated as a teenager. The fun thing with Khan is that she was obsessed with Marvel’s greatest heroes far before she became one–combine the excitement of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, but with the sizechanging powers of Ant-Man.
Kumail’s background in comedy and his understanding of Kamala’s situation as a Pakistani American with super religious parents make him the perfect candidate to deliver a MCU flick that feels grounded in our modern world while also being plain fun.
Boots Riley | ‘Howard the Duck’
Boots Riley took Hollywood by storm in 2018 with his surrealist comedy that had something to say about everything. Sorry to Bother You shows that Boots Riley has a lot on his mind and many ways to show it. He’s defined himself as one of the most creative and funny people in the industry … with just one film.
Howard the Duck has popped up in the MCU a few times now as Easter Eggs and post credits, but the only way to make a movie about a space-traveling, heavy-drinking duck work is to make it an insane comedy. Boots Riley’s creative production design would fit right at home in the cosmic side of the MCU.
It’s fair to assume he would take this smart mouth to crazy places. Since his inception, Howard the Duck has always been involved politically believe it or not and that gives Riley space to go crazy and say something important at the same time.
Greta Gerwig | ‘Squirrel Girl’
Greta Gerwig has been acting for a while now but she hadn’t stepped behind the camera until 2017 with Lady Bird, which earned her an Oscar nomination. The film is hilarious and poignant, a quality only the best MCU films have. Her quirky dialogue and ability to capture hearts would help Squirrel Girl thrive on the big screen.
Squirrel Girl, or Doreen Green, is a college girl with the power to communicate with squirrels and the drive to make the world better. Squirrel Girl’s big struggle is finding her place among a world full of bigger, better, and stronger heroes. You may think this concept sounds ridiculous but the most recent adaptations of Squirrel Girl have told her stories with a self-aware and comedic tone. Like, Deadpool levels of self awareness but with a more relatable protagonist in Doreen Green. That tone would help Squirrel Girl stand out in the MCU, just like that tone has helped Gerwig stand out in Hollywood.
The MCU needs to go in new directions if they want to keep fans coming back for more until the end of time and the only solution to that problem is encouraging new exciting voices to take full creative control of the characters in their pantheon. I can’t wait to see where the universe goes after Endgame and who the studio picks to take them there!