Hatin' On Heroes: Directors Who Turn Down Superhero Flicks

What'd be wrong with a nice, well-paid gig on a superhero picture? It turns out that not only has Shawn Levy, director of Night at the Museum and the upcoming Date Night, vowed never to make a superhero film but that Ron Howard turned down to opportunity to direct both a Spider-Man and a Batman picture. Quotes from the pair of them coming up.

Levy was attached to the long in-development Flash movie, much to the chagrin of fans. Then, after eight months or so of development time, he ditched. Why? To devote more time to his "own franchise", the Night at the Museum films. He's been discussing this choice with MTV. He's also used the interview to play down any possibility of him directing a superhero film in future.

You know what? It's not a yearning for me. It's a thing I'd love to try my hand at, but as I look at the work of guys like Favreau, Nolan and Zack Snyder, it occurs to me that there are guys who are genuinely naturals at those sort of films. And I may or may not have that muscle.

Should he ever sign up for a superhero film in future, the internet geek-gestalt is going to drag this quote up and nail him to it.

In earlier days of cinema the medium was absolutely saturated with westerns. This is sometimes forgotten now, and many of those westerns will rarely be seen again (some of them literally never, I'd guess – not from start to finish). The comic book medium suffered a similar plight and, to a far larger extent than film, still does. For decades it seemed virtually synonymous with the superhero genre.

Thankfully, comics' public image is changing, if only at a glacial rate. Curiously, though, the superhero virus infecting mainstream cinema is insanely promiscuous. The very large minority of blockbuster-budget pictures are already cape-and-mask capers, and I think the trend is fairly likely to continue until they constitute a majority of super-funded pictures.

Ron Howard also made the MTV Splash Page after appearing on Bill Maher's Real Time.

I've had a chance at some things that I knew would be successful but I also knew that I probably wouldn't do a very good job. I had a chance Batman years ago and Spider-Man and Harry Potter.

Maher rolled in with:

You passed on a pile of money there. Good for you. Those are comic book movies and they're all alike. I hate it when somebody says Catwoman was a piece of shit but Spider-Man is genius. It's the same goddamn story. I'd much rather watch Catwoman 'cause I get to look at Halle Berry the whole movie. They're all for children.

What a disappointing conversation. Firstly, I'm disappointed – though not the slightest bit surprised – that Maher has expressed a blanket disdain for an entire genre. He's very, very often spouting absolute nonsense but not always. Secondly, I'm disappointed that, well, it takes the refusal of Ron Howard to stop him getting his hands on Spider-Man and Batman. Again, I'm not surprised but, frankly, had Howard directed either of those instead of Sam Raimi and (we're probably going back far enough for this one) Tim Burton, we' have lost some of the most interesting blockbuster movies of the last twenty years or so.

There's some kind of consensus opinion that a director well suited to a superhero film is a director who loves the source material. I don't agree with that at all. The right director is, plainly and simply, a good director. A director who can take the material and make something good from it. I don't care if they give Spider-Man parents or Batman a wife as long as the resulting film is well made, intelligent, engaging and has something to say.