Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Who are these people directing these movies?

Have you ever heard of a person named Alan Taylor?

Neither had I. Except I was noodling around on the interwebs and learned that this person is directing the Terminator reboot (or whatever it is).

Trying to figure out how they would just hand this movie to this guy I had never heard of, I discovered that Mr. Taylor also directed Thor: Dark World. (Shows you how much attention I paid to the sequel to one of my least favorite Marvel movies.)

Trying to figure out how they would just hand the sequel to one of my least favorite Marvel movies to a guy I had never heard of, I discovered that Mr. Taylor also directed movies called Palookaville, The Emperor's New Clothes and Kill the Poor, the most recent of which came out in ... 2003.


What crack is Marvel smoking these days?

If it were just this, that would be one thing. But do you know who's directing April's Captain America: The Winter Soldier?

Joe and Anthony Russo, known for their cinematic classics Welcome to Collinwood and You, Me and Dupree.


The answer, of course, lies in what these directors have been doing when they have not been directing features. And that means the answer lies in TV.

Taylor is a veteran of a half-dozen episodes of Game of Thrones, making him a pretty darn logical candidate to direct a Thor movie in that sense. And the Russo brothers directed some of those episodes of Community that featured paintball wars (there were at least two of them, and possibly as many as 17), which I guess makes them a slightly more logical choice to direct an action movie.

Then again, they still kind of don't make sense. Game of Thrones has surprisingly few scenes of actual fighting, and I don't know how slow-mo action-comedy sequences on Community qualify someone for big-budget, serious action.

What's clear is that Marvel has a downright kooky idea of who should direct its movies. After all, Jon Favreau had to seem like an unusual choice for the original Iron Man, having made only Made, Elf and Zathura. Now we think of him as a hot director of big-budget films, Cowboys & Aliens notwithstanding.

Ditto Kenneth Branagh for the original Thor (he's the "Shakespeare guy") and Joss Whedon for The Avengers (he's "the Buffy the Vampire Slayer" guy).

There's something delightfully risk embracing about their stance. (What's a good opposite of "risk averse," anyway? Risk comfortable? Risk welcoming?) Any of these decisions could easily blow up in their faces, but so far, none really have.

They appear to have made another smart unconventional choice with the director of next year's Ant-Man: Edgar Wright. Though this would be one of their least unconventional choices, given that each of Wright's movies has had a somewhat serious dose of action.

When they tap Woody Allen to direct Iron Man 4, that's when I will really start scratching my head. But it's much more likely that they will get someone like Ramin Bahrani, director of the indie darlings Man Push Cart, Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo. After making At Any Price, which featured Zac Efron as a race car driver, he's all set to helm a superhero movie, isn't he?

I'm pretty sure Marvel thinks so ... and heck, given their track record, I'm pretty sure they're right.

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