9 Filmmakers Who Should Be Given Free Rein In The MCU

With the theatrical premiere of the newest MCU outing, "Thor: Love and Thunder," the MCU is currently sitting at a whopping 27 Marvel Studios films and seven current Marvel Studios series (all produced for Disney+). There's no sign that the fine folks at Marvel are stopping anytime soon, and after "Thor 4" there are already a number of films and television projects in various stages of development. Existing projects have netted some of the best directors working today, including Kenneth Branagh, Chloé Zhao, Ryan Coogler, Taika Waititi, the Russo brothers, Jon Favreau, James Gunn, and others. 

Marvel's current strategy is to net talented filmmakers who take risks and have vision, and the studio has gained a great reputation among directors for reportedly taking a largely hands-off approach to their creative vision. With so many projects on the horizon, it's an interesting exercise to create a "wish list" of directors who would be perfect for forthcoming projects that absolutely need to be in the MCU.

Here's a list of talented filmmakers with strong creative vision that really, really need to be given a Marvel blank check (complete with the project they'd absolutely perfect for).

Gareth Evans - Wolverine

It's inevitable that mutants and the X-Men are going to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" introducing another reality's Professor Xavier, their introduction might indeed be sooner than later. One of the most popular and recognizable mutants is the nigh-immortal rage monster Wolverine, long played by Hugh Jackman in the Fox-produced series of "X-Men" films. With regenerative abilities that would rival any other Marvel character's and bone claws reinforced with adamantium (along with the rest of his skeleton), he's a vicious, brutal fighter with insurmountable rage. As one of the most popular X-Men he should be given his own solo outing (perhaps as an intro to the wider mutant world), and there's only one director who should tackle a Wolverine film: Gareth Evans.

British director Gareth Evans is widely known for the excellent set of Indonesian action films "The Raid" and "The Raid 2," each high octane, violent epics that feature the brutal martial art pencak silat. Each film effectively focuses on a set of protagonists fighting their way through a multitude of enemies with incredible ferocity. It's a feeling that matches Wolverine's combat style, as the mutant throws himself into close-quarters combat with a vengeance on the regular. It's also worth noting that, in addition to his claws, the long-lived hero is a skilled combatant. Evans is so perfect for a solo Wolverine film that it's hard to imagine any other director being a better choice.

Lynne Ramsay - Punisher

With the end of Netflix's set of Marvel series it was feared that there wouldn't be an opening for such characters to join Marvel Studios' own TV and cinematic outings. With the recent announcement that Disney+ has greenlit a Daredevil series (complete with Charlie Cox) and incorporated classic Daredevil nemesis Kingpin in "Hawkeye," the floodgates are wide open for the MCU to include any characters from that shared universe. Another character whose on-screen history started in "Daredevil" before being popular enough for his own show was The Punisher, the violent anti-hero Frank Castle (played so well by Jon Bernthal). He's a great character that challenges heroes and villains alike. Frank Castle is a particularly brutal character, driven by vengeance over the death of his wife and child to become an unstoppable, criminal-killing force. One director would absolutely ace a Punisher film: Lynne Ramsay.

Ramsay's "You Were Never Really Here" is a great example of how the filmmaker excels at creating vicious but morally complex anti-hero protagonists. The film follows Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a gun-for-hire who specializes in rescuing trafficked children. He gets pulled into a highly secretive job, and Joe's efficiently brutal methods get the job done (long story short). Ramsey handles the material with tremendous skill, showcasing a complex, baggage-hewn and vicious antihero protagonist massacring his way through criminal underbellies. She's a perfect choice to tell Frank Castle's story in a way that's true to the character.

Gareth Edwards - Galactus

With the Marvel Cinematic Universe taking an increasingly cosmic turn, there's a huge demand for Marvel Studios to incorporate Marvel's cosmic energy-powered "first family," the Fantastic Four. We've already seen one variant of the Four's "Mr. Fantastic" Reed Richards in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," but it's also about time we saw one of Marvel's biggest villains, regular Fantastic Four foe Galactus. In Marvel lore, Galactus survived the destruction of the universe before the main Marvel 'verse, protected in a cosmic egg of sorts. Upon the new multiverse's emergence he found himself a vast and powerful entity that travels the universe, consuming planets from a constant, unyielding hunger.

Galactus is a unique Marvel foe for both his complex nature alongside his immense size and power, and Marvel will want a director that can transmit the awe and terror that comes with that sort of being. One director that really captured that feeling is Gareth Edwards, the first director who took Godzilla on for Legendary's Monsterverse films (in 2014's "Godzilla"). Beyond being a sort of God-on-Earth, Godzilla is immensely vast and powerful. In a striking scene from the 2014 film, when Godzilla rises full-height from the ocean, Edwards beautifully captures the awe and terror of being faced with Godzilla for the first time. It's exactly the kind of awe and terror that a Galactus on-screen appearance demands, and Edwards can nail it.

A.T. White - Silver Surfer

To expand on Galactus' mythos a little bit, the Devourer of Worlds doesn't work alone in his endless pursuit of sweet planet noms. He empowers Heralds with "the Power Cosmic" (a roster that changes over time), and each of these beings takes on unique forms and power sets. Perhaps his most powerful, and certainly most famous, Herald is the Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd, who sadly saved his planet Zenn-La from Galactus' appetite at the cost of his own servitude to the cosmic entity. Granted vast power and a surfboard-looking silver craft (by which he travels the cosmos in search of new planets for Galactus), Radd is unspeakably badass and also one of the most tragic Marvel figures. 

One director who would land a Silver Surfer outing is A.T. White, director of the cosmic horror outing "Starfish." In that film, an otherworldly hidden force is propelling the end of our world, and a protagonist needs to find and put together musical clues (while overcoming her own massive guilt) on an increasingly desolate, dangerous Earth. White's command of an empathetic and mournful protagonist amidst otherworldly planetary threats is literally the perfect territory for the Silver Surfer, and it would undoubtedly be a wonderfully memorable take on him.

Issa Lopez - Magik

Although we've now seen two of Marvel's most powerful magicians go toe to toe in the MCU (between Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch), we've barely scratched the surface of the magical end of the Marvel universe. One of the most interesting Marvel magicians, Magik (aka Illyana Rasputin) has received an on-screen adaptation outside the MCU in "The New Mutants" (played by Anya Taylor-Joy). Magik is a mutant with the ability to teleport, but she created the Soulsword (a magic-enhancing sword of vast power) and developed immense magical power over the course of imprisonment in the Limbo dimension (eventually becoming the dimension's ruler and Sorceress Supreme). Yet to make her Marvel Studios debut, she'd be a great addition. And there's one director who would be perfect for the adaptation.

"Tigers Are Not Afraid" director Issa Lopez would be a top-tier director for an MCU introduction to Magik. Lopez writes and directs powerful female protagonists in harrowing otherworldly circumstances like no one's business, and "Tigers" has an immensely powerful feeling of magic in every frame. It's perfect for one of the best mutant additions to the MCU.

Quentin Dupieux - Hellcow

If you're mainly familiar with the MCU, it may be surprising to note that there are a boatload of Marvel characters who are just plain weird. Marvel boasts villains like Ruby Thursday (a woman with a featureless red globe for a head), The Orb (an assassin with a massive eyeball for a head), and plenty of others that are more than different head configurations. One of these weirder creations is Hellcow, whose first appearance in "Giant-Size Man-Thing #5" revealed her as a normal cow bitten by a desperate Count Dracula in the 1600s. It turns her into a sentient bovine vampire on the hunt for Dracula (for revenge, of course).

Only a director with a taste for the strange could really land a Hellcow outing. Fortunately there's a talented French director who has made enjoyable film about everything from mystical deerskin jackets ("Deerskin") to dog-sized houseflies ("Mandibles") to sentient, murderous telekinetic tires ("Rubber") ... Quentin Dupieux. His films have managed to take absurd premises and characters and make them enjoyable without lowering the stakes, and that's exactly what a Hellcow adaptation would require. Marvel should continue to dip deeper into its coterie of weird characters, and Dupieux is exactly the right filmmaker for the job.

Julia Ducournau - Ultron

Yes, we've already gotten an on-screen Ultron adaptation in the MCU (in "Avengers: Age of Ultron"). The genocidal AI is one of the Avengers' most dangerous foes, and in the comics his danger is driven by neuroses (he's a machine with a god complex, daddy issues, and has a somewhat Freudian desire for Janet van Dyne, the wife of his comic creator Hank Pym — the MCU retconned his origins). At the same time, one of Ultron's most frightening attributes in the comics is that the relentless AI is hard to kill (at his core, he's code after all) and thus he keeps coming back stronger and more prepared over time. 

Julia Ducournau's "Titane" followed Alexia, a serial killing murderess with a disconnect from humanity as big as her attraction to automobiles. She even procreates with one, which causes some unusual changes for the daytime professional dancer. Ducournau is so good at navigating stories about the line/relationship between people and machines, daddy issues, and murderous misanthropy, all of which are central to Ultron and which should feature in his MCU return (and he really needs to return). It also helps that Ducournau has style to spare, so expect it to be a visually arresting outing.

Takashi Miike - Ghost Rider

There have been two "Ghost Rider" films, both starring Nicolas Cage as stunt-rider-turned-evil-hunter Johnny Blaze. While the films are a bit of a mixed bag, the character itself is great. Bound to Zarathos, the Spirit of Vengeance, after making a devil's bargain with Mephisto, Blaze becomes the Ghost Rider, a powerful metaphysical force with a penance stare (causing evildoers to feel all the suffering they've caused). The Ghost Rider has a flaming skull for a head, hellfire, vast strength, sometimes a supernatural chain, and a superpowered vehicle. As an agent of Heaven's vengeance, he's one of the most powerful supernatural Marvel heroes, and he's a big, bold, fiery powerhouse.

Genre mainstay Takashi Miike is known for his prolific career of bold, violent, energetic cinematic outings like "Audition," "13 Assassins," "Ichi the Killer," and many more. Well executed action-heavy stories with a sense of humor are pretty much Miike's forte. Check out "Blade of the Immortal," an adaptation of Hiroaki Samura's popular manga series that sees immortal samurai Manji protect an endangered teenager against a vicious clan that killed her parents. It's a stylish and high-octane supernatural outing whose tone would make for a fantastic Ghost Rider film ... not to mention that, as one of the most prolific directors of all time, netting Miike would put his vast creative energy into one of cinema's most prolific studio pipelines. It's a natural win-win. 

S.S. Rajamouli - The X-Men

The X-Men are one of the most popular Marvel teams yet to make it into the MCU, and they're certainly on Marvel's menu for a forthcoming film. That corner of Marvel comics is an interesting one, full of some of the most powerful heroes and villains in Marvel canon and decades of stories fit for adaptation. We've seen two on this list alone (Wolverine and Magik) that would add a lot to the Marvel Universe, but to introduce a whole team of very different characters with divergent powers and personalities takes something special. 

S.S. Rajamouli's action-fantasy epic "RRR" is a story about the fight for independence in India, but it's also a complex adaptation that mythologizes the stories of two real-life freedom fighters, Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raji (Ram Charan). The twist with this narrative is the figures are given larger-than-life capabilities, and the film connects them to mythological figures like Lord Rama and Bheema (from the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, respectively). It's a ferocious, bombastic, intense tale with truly clever action sequences and layers of subtext. X-Men stories are always tales of nigh-mythological powerhouses, frequently layered with meaning and told with pizazz. Rajamouli is the perfect director to take their stories and give them some memorable, inventive, mythical shine.