It’s been quite some time since we last got a solo Superman flick, roughly 5 years since the release of Man of Steel. The film was initially met with mixed reactions from both critics and fans, but it’s typically described as one of the DCU’s best films nowadays (it started the cinematic universe after all). Some could say 2016’s Batman v. Superman was a sequel of sorts to the 2013 film, but that’s not what it turned out to be and fans have since continued to ask for a true sequel to the Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill.
His presence in last year’s Justice League was interesting, to say the least, as people liked his lighter-toned personality but were distracted by his obvious CGI upper lip. That film went through problems beyond that so there isn’t much that could be said that hasn’t already been mentioned before, but it’s safe to say Superman is back for good. However, that still leaves his next solo film in limbo but hope is indeed in sight.
Various rumors over the past year or so suggest the film is still actively being developed by Warner Bros, but no director has been attached. Zack Snyder is finished with the comic book film genre for a while, so that leaves the director’s chair vacant. Some popular filmmakers have thrown their hat in the ring, with Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman) being one of the top names. There’s no official word on who will ultimately helm the sequel, but we have a few names in mind that could tackle Superman’s next adventure on the big screen.
5. Guy Ritchie
Yes, the guy who has directed the Sherlock Holmes films and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is one our top choices for a Superman film. Certainly the oddest choice on this list, but his track record has been pretty solid. He’s a director with a unique style that doesn’t suit everything, but I reckon he would be able to work his magic with the Man of Steel himself. His films are often fun and fairly comedic, which would mesh with this iconic superhero.
He’s also already worked with Henry Cavill on Man from U.N.C.L.E. , where he was able to get a very entertaining and witty performance from Superman. His specific style may not be exactly what you picture a Superman film to be like, but if he reins it in a bit then I think something special could come out of it.
4. Dee Rees
Dee Rees made waves last year after her film Mudbound was a festival darling and critical success. Netflix bought the film and released it during the same weekend as Justice League, so it’s safe to say most people had no idea the film was even out by then. Which is a shame, because the film is a straight-up epic. Set during World War II, the story follows two men who return home to rural Mississippi to work on a farm, where they struggle with severe racism and PTSD. The performances are brilliant and the story is truly breathtaking with a wide range of characters to support it. The main star of the film, however, is Dee Rees herself as she successfully captures the essence of a very long and dense book.
The film is so overwhelmingly good that I wonder how Rees isn’t already set to direct a mega-blockbuster film for Lucasfilm or Marvel, if anyone deserves a shot in the big leagues it’s her. This is why I think she’s a great choice for a DC film, specifically for Superman himself. She can deliver the scope that a Man of Steel film warrants, but also infuse the ideals that he is known to represent. If Mudbound’s visuals are any indication, the film would also look incredible and continue the unique visual style in the DCU that Man of Steel started.
3. Matthew Vaughn
As I mentioned before Matthew Vaughn is already in talks for the director’s seat, so his presence on this list is almost inevitable. There’s a reason for it though, and it’s because his track record in the comic book-film genre has been quite good. After making a splash with X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass, he moved onto the Kingsman franchise where he continued his fun but hard-hitting style.
His proposed “feel good” take on the Last Son of Krypton is something I think the character is heading towards anyway, so Vaughn is actually quite the natural fit. What puts him at the second spot in this list and not first is how his last film Kingsman: The Golden Circle wasn’t extremely well received by fans and critics alike. He also sometimes goes too far in the “fun” route and goes to the campy territory, something I think Superman doesn’t need (too much of). The right director for the Man of Steel would find a balance in being epic while keeping a light-hearted and hopeful tone, which leads me to my next two choices.
2. Brad Bird
From Iron Giant to The Incredibles, if there’s someone who can tackle a Superman film it’s this guy. His track record speaks for itself, and although Tomorrowland wasn’t well received, his upcoming Incredibles sequel should get him back to his A-game. On paper, he’s the perfect guy to helm most superhero films, but if anything holds him back it’s that he tends to work on projects for a while before they begin filming. Which is something I doubt WB wants with the Man of Steel sequel, and history suggests that Brad Bird would take his time developing it.
If the studio is willing to wait and Brad Bird is interested, it’s a safe bet he’ll come up with something worthy of the Superman name. He loves to blend emotion, fun, and action, which makes all of his movies extremely accessible for all ages. A Superman film containing those things would be ideal, and Brad Bird could be the guy to do it. There’s one more director who could also do everything said here and more, it’s not a name you’ll see on most people’s lists, but I think he deserves a shot at a superhero film.
1. J.A. Bayona
After wrecking audiences emotionally with the visually impeccable films the Impossible and A Monster Calls, I think Juan Antonio Bayona is the right choice for Superman. He has not only proven himself a master at tugging at the heartstrings but also knows how to have fun. His upcoming film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is proof of that, and even though it isn’t out yet, he’s already shown hints of that fun side with moments of childlike joy with A Monster Calls. He also is incredibly proficient at blending practical effects and CGI elements, something I think will come in handy when dealing with Superman and his action sequences.
He’s also a professed fan of Superman, revealing in a Reddit AMA a while back that the first film he’s ever seen is Superman: The Movie and that’s what made him decide to pursue a career of directing. He also mentioned directing a Superman movie would be a dream job, so if I were WB, I would sign him up quick. Of course, it takes more than just wanting to direct a famous character, but I’m pretty certain he’s proven himself already and will end up surprising some with Fallen Kingdom.
You can catch Superman in Justice League on Digital HD and Blu-Ray right now.