Read after the jump to learn why the recent directorial carousel has Captain America looking so stressed.
From left to right: Jon Favreau (IM, IM2), Kenneth Branagh (Thor), and Joe Johnston (CA: TFA)
One of the maddening issues with Marvel is their seeming inability to keep good directors lately. If you've kept up on all the changes surrounding Thor 2 before landing Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones), and read about Jon Favereau's very public departure from the Iron Man franchise, it makes many scratch their heads and wonder if there's cracks in the pavement developing.
Sometimes these things happen, right? A director gets a better gig, one that's a better fit for them, and moves on to another project. Once is acceptable, twice is strange, but four times on Thor 2? So, when word came out today that director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) has bowed out to direct a film about N.W.A. (Huh? Really? N.WA.??), my panic from Thor 2 took on renewed life. It wouldn't be so bad if the candidates were of Joe Johnston's quality - as the director for CA:TFA, Johnston's work ethic and adherence to Cap canon created a likeable hero and a bankable actor in Chris Evans.
But take a look at the two candidates left in contention, and you start to see my point:
- George Nolfi - He made the quiet but very good The Adjustment Bureau, but can he take on Johnston's sensibilities and make another quality film with so much pressure? Is he a great director in waiting for a big budget action piece?
- Anthony and Joseph Russo - This is one of the most bizarre choices in recent memory. With only comedies to their name ( Welcome to Collinwood and You, Me and Dupreee) it's amazing they're still in the running, or that they ever were.
Gray's departure from a cast of relative unknowns and second-rate talent sends a confusing message about Marvel's capacities: either they cannot afford high-quality (who cost more money) directors like Kenneth Branagh and Jon Favreau, hoping instead to land relative unknowns (who are cheaper). The problem with cheaper directors with possible talent (like Nolfi) is that we're not talking Brad Bird (who's doing the San Francisco earthquake thriller 1906) or Paul Greengrass (who's directing Captain Phillips) here. These are top-flight directors who know how to handle big-budget effects films, and can deal with the pressure of keeping the Marvel machine going. The question is, did Marvel have a shot at them, or was it their plan to seek a value-priced director all along? Based on how these things work with directors, it seems more likely that Marvel is searching for the next big director in a small-sized package. It's also clear that the two remaining choices may not stack up to past hires.
Either way, let's hope Marvel know what they're doing, or do the right thing and wait until they have a quality director before moving on. For now, let the director carousel begin. Ugh.