It’s been a few days since news broke that Dope director Rick Famuyiwa’s has departed DC’s upcoming The Flash solo film, which sent ripples of concern through the Speed Force. What could this mean for the Scarlet Speedster? Famuyiwa’s exit now adds to the growing list of people who have chosen not to direct the film, including writers of the original treatment of the script, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who instead are tackling the Han Solo prequel) and Seth Grahame-Smith, who stepped down back in April citing the ever-nebulous term “creative differences.”
As our very own Kyle Anderson explained earlier this week, Famuyiwa’s departure was likely due to a conflict between his edgier vision for the character and the studio’s new lighter take on the franchise post-Batman v Superman. And though we certainly think that BvS took a few wrong turns, one of its key missteps was not in making things “dark,” but in doing so without reason or investment in the characters. What’s becoming clear is that the success of live action DC characters is first and foremost dependent on remaining true to what they are in the comics, and it seems those in charge of the DCEU are starting to keep that in mind.
The Flash movie doesn’t need to be a goofy romp, but it does need to get the character right. So with that in mind, here’s a wishlist of who I would love to see take hold of The Flash.
1. Doug Liman
Liman’s directing style results in fast paced films that avoid unnecessary scenes for the sake of expositional dialogue. There’s a certain timing to his work that never seems to slow down and just feels perfect for the character of The Flash. In Liman’s films, instead of being told how to feel about the characters, we’re shown who they are and what they’re going through. We’ve watched Jason Bourne rampage through cities and dispatch countless henchman with little remorse but we remain sympathetic to what he wants to accomplish because we’re with him every step of the way. Tom Cruise’s character in Edge of Tomorrow was introduced as a self-centered and awful person that we grew to love because we went on his heroic journey with him. Liman is also familiar with how to creatively film the manipulation of time from EoT which would be a strength in the often (to borrow a term from Doctor Who) “time-wimey” world of The Flash. Although I think where Liman would really succeed is in showing Barry’s vulnerability as a young hero. Just imagine Jon Favreau’s answering machine scene from Swingers applied to Barry trying to maintain relationships.
2. Ava DuVernay
Selma, Queen Sugar, Scandal, A Wrinkle in Time
Known mostly for dramatic films, DuVernay is a powerhouse of direction capable of bringing real heart and humanity to a super-powered world already riddled with excessive Martha-yelling vigilantes. DuVernay could bring feeling to film and set us up to actually care about the people behind the masks. And to any naysayers that think she wouldn’t be suited for a superhero film, DuVernay is set to direct A Wrinkle in Time, which is just as mind and reality-bending than any of the speedster’s story arcs.
3. Paul McGuigan
Lucky Number Slevin, Push, Sherlock, Marvel’s Luke Cage
McGuigan’s style has a certain elegance to it while still, somehow, remaining playful. A level of, let’s say, quick-witted sophisticated fun that makes you want to be a part of the worlds he creates. You’re missing out if you’ve never seen the fast-talking modernized noir whodunnit mystery Lucky Number Slevin which, even at its silliest bits, remains captivating from beginning to end. McGuigan’s work focuses on character interaction more than it does grand set pieces or action sequences, so much so that when any action or peril does come into play, we’re already invested on an emotional level. This is evidenced more recently having directed the first two episodes of Luke Cage and the very first episode of Sherlock. Apply his résumé to the fast-paced world of The Flash and there’s no way you’d have a miss on your hands.
4. F. Gary Gray
Friday, The Italian Job, Law Abiding Citizen, Straight Outta Compton
With that list of credits there’s not much of an argument we need to make. The humor of Friday, the intensity of Law Abiding Citizen, and the heart of Straight Outta Compton? Gray’s career has him ready to take on anything that comes his way. If he were tapped to direct, I envision a story centered around Barry as a person that would show him coming to grips with his powers and trying to balance his everyday life with his super-heroics. The compulsion to help those in need first being treated as more of a reluctant chore than anything else until he grows into the role of hero. Think of it as a DC version of almost any Spider-Man story.
5. Alex Garland
Ex-Machina, 28 Days Later, Sunshine
A the most melancholy pick on the list, this may seem to go against Warner Bros’ mission statement for Barry/Flash to be the upbeat side of the DCEU. But let’s think of what we know about Ezra Miller’s Flash so far. In the JL trailer, Barry flat-out admits to Bruce Wayne that he just wants friends. He’s a lonely kid doing his best with powers that make him move, think, and probably feel faster than anyone in the world. So imagine the writer of 28 Days Later and director of Ex-Machina introducing us to a character who is coping with the abject isolated life of a speedster. Everyone in the world must be moving at a snail’s pace to Barry and it’s got to be a struggle with how lonely that is. Waiting for everyone to do anything has got to be a constant boredom filled fight against madness knowing that no one will ever catch up to him.
The Barry we know and love as a happy-go-lucky goofball would mean so much more if we were privy to what he goes through to get to that point where he decides to make everything joke. The DCEU has had more than its fair share of brooding knuckleheads and it’d be a testament to how much of a hero Barry really is if he had it worse than anyone else but constantly decides to remain upbeat. We’d rejoice in him being the lighthearted hero so much more if we were along for the ride in him getting there. Garland’s direction helped create the isolated and paranoid world we saw in Ex-Machina and 28 Days Later while still letting moments of levity through. Having that outlook implemented to a comic book film would be heartrendingly beautiful.
Other than the five listed above, there’s always a few heavy-hitters I’d love to see take a swing at the DC Cinematic Universe. It’d be a pipe dream considering how deep into Marvel country they both are, but you really couldn’t go wrong with the lighthearted and comedic styles of Jon Favreau or Taika Waititi. And I’d surely be remiss if I didn’t mention how we’ll never know the Ant-Man that Edgar Wright had in store for us but maybe, some day, he’ll gift the world with a fun, fast-paced, and hilarious superhero film that only he can deliver.
What’s your dream list of possible directors for The Flash? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Image: Warner Bros. Pictures, BBC, Universal Pictures
The science behind the Flash’s infinite mass punch