James Cameron Sci-Fi Documentary Series

James Cameron might be one of the most famous and well-regarded filmmakers working today, but he still takes inspiration from his peers and even from those who’ve followed him. During a recent interview, Cameron rattled off the names of some contemporaries that inspired him — including Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder and Deadpool director Tim Miller

You can see the video of Cameron discussing his inspirations below, via Comic Book Debate.

Cameron starts off by naming some classic icons, like David Lean, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stanley Kubrick. But things get more interesting when he starts discussing other active filmmakers, like Ridley Scott:

Directors that continue to inspire me? Ridley Scott. I mean, I’ll go to see any Ridley Scott movie. Even the ones that bomb, to me, are great. Because of the fabric of the filmmaking. You know, just the way he sees, the way he places the camera, so on.

Scott’s had some misses lately, but I’d tend to agree with Cameron that even his missteps tend to be, if nothing else, interesting to look at. The Avatar filmmaker then went on to sing the praises of Snyder, Miller, and his Alita: Battle Angel director Robert Rodriguez:

I’m also inspired by — these are established filmmakers now, but I remember being very inspired by them when they first broke on the scene — like Zack Snyder and Robert Rodriguez, guys that were just creating their own new cinematic language. So I can be inspired by somebody whose name I don’t even know if they do something that’s unique and remarkable and nobody’s seen it before.

A friend of mine who’s a visual effects guy just directed Deadpool. And I went to see Deadpool, and the opening credits sequence, I was like, damn, nobody ever thought of that! Do a fake credits sequence! And how brilliant is it? It sets the tone for the whole movie. You’re laughing before the film even starts, ’cause “directed by: some tool, some overpaid tool.” It’s like, brilliant!

Snyder has become easy to mock these days, following the incredibly polarized reaction to Batman v Superman. But it’s hard to deny that, for better or for worse, the aesthetic he laid out in Watchmen and especially 300 has had a huge impact on the industry. As for Rodriguez, Cameron likes him so much that when he decided he no longer wanted to direct Alita: Battle Angel, he handed the keys over to the younger director. (Cameron remains on board the project as a producer.)

Interestingly, all three of the directors Cameron names have drawn heavily from comic book imagery. Snyder’s Watchmen and 300 were faithful to their source material (arguably to a fault), and Rodriguez’s Sin City films looked like just like the comics come to life. Miller’s Deadpool, too, was praised for capturing the colorful, irreverent spirit of the comics. Cameron himself once tried to make a Spider-Man movie happen, but to date, he hasn’t actually directed a superhero movie. And he probably never will — according to Cameron himself, he basically plans to only direct Avatar movies from here on out.

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