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Marc Webb recently announced that he was joining Sam Raimi as a filmmaker who has spent three movies with the amazing Spider-Man, bowing out of the director’s seat for the 2018-scheduled The Amazing Spider-Man 4. Until then, he’s going to help shape this franchise with this summer’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 2016’s The Amazing Spider-Man 3 and a partnership in the official Sony braintrust in charge of Venom and Sinister Six movies. After that, however, someone’s going to have to take up the job, creating a brave new world for Andrew Garfield and company to navigate as Sony attempts adventures of Marvel’s web-slinger in perpetuity.
So who’s going to fill Webb’s spot? Assuming the second and third Spidey adventures are as big as the first, Sony’s going to be looking at a big payday for Garfield, and heftier budgets for the behind-the-camera talent. That means that whomever they pick to assume the mantle for the fourth Spider-Man (technically the seventh!) has got to be affordable. They also have to be someone hungry enough for a shot that they can present a daring new vision for a character that will have been onscreen for sixteen years by the time The Amazing Spider-Man 4 hits screens, but not enough that it’s going to be so radical as to offset plans for those villain pictures presided over by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and company.
Four years is pretty far away: you can hypothesize that Sony’s choice for the fourth film hasn’t even picked up a camera yet. That being said, if the studio didn’t value planning ahead, there wouldn’t be a release date for a fourth Spider-Man picture in 2013. But don’t look for dream choices or trend-setters here: Mark Romanek is not walking in (and then back out!) that door, David Fincher is not sniffing this job, and the Wachowskis aren’t going to present their daring vision of Spider-Man 2099 anytime soon. Think of how Sony plucked Marc Webb from the indie world after his relatively modest (500) Days Of Summer: Webb wasn’t on studio’s blockbuster wishlists, but ultimately Sony felt he personified their new vision of the character. In no particular order, because we’ve cast a very wide net (Spider-Man contains multitudes!) here is a likely list of ten potential filmmakers who could join Sony’s team to direct The Amazing Spider-Man 4.
Kimberly PeirceWho? Peirce earned plaudits earlier in her career for guiding Hilary Swank to an Oscar in Boys Don’t Cry. She also helmed the underrated military drama Stop/Loss and recently guided the Carrie remake to solid financial success.
Why? Peirce has been trying to break into the big time for a while now, having long been attached to the science fiction adaptation Childhood’s End. Her films are serious and tough-minded, and given that the fourth Spider-Man likely will be happening in a post-Gwen Stacy world (if the films follow the classic comic storyline), it might be time to toughen up our hero a bit. She’s an industry vet who’s been on the Hollywood merry go-round for more than a decade, and will know how to pick her battles in that all-male writer’s room.
Adam LeonWho? Leon burst on the scene last year with Gimme The Loot, a rambunctious indie about two teens on a desperate attempt to tag the CitiField apple in Queens, New York.
Why? Spider-Man is first and foremost a New York City character, and Gimme The Loot was one of the most true and affectionate portrayals of the city. Leon’s pedigree is similar to Webb’s, as he’s got a rough-around-the-edges aesthetic that would bring a lighthearted edge to the character. Fans of the character’s earlier comic runs remember him sailing across the Brooklyn Bridge, touching down in Columbus Circle, or having a hot dog at Astor Place. Due to extensive green screen and studio work, the films have kept those concepts from us, but surely Leon would bring them back.
Noam MurroWho? Murro, who debuted with the indie Smart People, recently scored a massive hit with 300: Rise Of An Empire. The former commercial vet has been on studio shortlists for a long time, and has even probably already taken a Spider-Man meeting or two.
Why? Rise Of An Empire likely won’t out-gross it’s Zack Snyder-directed predecessor. But reviews actually suggested Murro had done a solid job emulating Snyder’s style, and may have even made a better film. This is your blockbuster choice, as Murro is garnering the same heat around Hollywood now that James McTiegue did after the surprise success of V For Vendetta. Rise Of An Empire showcased a widescreen portrait of intense comic book action, with a little cheeky humor thrown in. There’s no reason to think a similar approach wouldn’t work for Spidey.
Evan Glodell And The Coatwolf GangWho? Glodell received the directorial credit for the group’s Bellflower, an intense, apocalyptic drama about the dissolution of a romantic relationship. The group is now working on Chuck Hank And The San Diego Twins, under the direction of Bellflower songwriter Jonathan Keevil, which is said to be in the spirit of side-scrolling beat-‘em-ups.
Why? There’s no doubt that these guys grew up with comic books and genre television, with a major subplot in Bellflower referencing the villains in Mad Max. They’d bring an enterprising DIY spirit to the franchise, keeping costs down while giving Spidey the authentic hipster cred that the franchise dubiously aimed for by putting Garfield on a skateboard in that first film.
Lake BellWho? The multitalented comedienne made her directorial debut with last year’s raucously funny In A World…, which showed she could balance multiple characters, a sweet romance, and a gentle sense of humor.
Why? The most startling thing about In A World… is that it was Bell’s first film, as it was remarkably polished and sturdy while managing to cram in the sort of gags you’d expect from the skilled cast of ringers. Bell’s a comedy mainstay, so there’s no doubt her presence would allow a whole bunch of comedic actors to stretch themselves in a big blockbuster. The fans have been waiting for an actually-funny Spider-Man movie. Bell can give that to them.
Jeremy SaulnierWho? Saulnier’s debut was the little-seen horror-comedy Murder Party. But he’s made a quantum leap with his upcoming film, the suspense thriller Blue Ruin, which TWC Radius is releasing next month.
Why? Blue Ruin is maybe one of the most tense and suspenseful films you’ll see this year. In the most basic sense, it is a game-changer in the genre of revenge films, the sort of deceptively-simple movie that keeps revealing new depths. But like its predecessor, it’s also quite funny, and it balances the action with the laughs in a way that suggests Saulnier is bound for bigger and better things. Why not Spider-Man?
Alex de la IglesiaWho? The Last Circus is one of the maddest films of the last ten years, an epic Spanish language tragedy that plays out like 1989’s Batman, but with no Batman and two Jokers. But de la Iglesia has been doing this sort of thing for a while now, making edgy Spanish language films from the sci-fi satire Accion Mutante to the nostalgic western 800 Bullets to the Billy Wilder-esque As Luck Would Have It.
Why? If you like Guillermo Del Toro but wish he were a little more lawless, de la Iglesia is your man. He’s got a wild visual sensibility and a bawdy sense of humor that gives all his films a kooky sense of momentum, even when they’re ultimately not about much. He’s come to America before with the obscure flop The Oxford Murders, but there’s always a chance he could return. Would he collaborate well with the "braintrust"? He’s experienced enough that he certainly wouldn’t be the bull-in-a-china-shop that most outsized foreign filmmakers tend to be.
Lucy MulloyWho? Mulloy, a native New Yorker, made her directorial debut with last year’s Spanish-language Una Noche, a propulsive drama with an undeniable youthful energy that impressed so strongly that Spike Lee granted his name to the release in support.
Why? This is another edgy pick, as Una Noche isn’t the sort of Sunday afternoon blockbuster that execs are watching on FX when they make major decisions. Still, Molloy impressed several with her debut, and she could bring an authentic attitude and effervescence to the character, adding shades of urban optimism that the series hasn’t had since Spider-Man 2.
Phil Lord And Chris MillerWho? Lord and Miller are the animation wizards who brought us Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs before going R-rated with 21 Jump Street. The duo have never been hotter than they are now coming off the runaway success of The Lego Movie.
Why It’s appropriate that Spider-Man would fall in the hands of animation wizards given the characters physical elasticity, cornball sense of humor, and colorful rogue’s gallery. Raimi came close to this spirit, given that his previous films had a similarly anarchic attitude as Jump Street without the fratty humor. But with these two, you’d get a Spidey that was fast and funny that played to youthful audiences without pandering.
Joe CornishWho? Cornish, a comedian and radio personality, contributed to the films of Edgar Wright before directing Attack The Block. His superhero experience comes from co-writing Marvel’s Ant-Man.
Why? Cornish is probably the best possible choice. Attach The Block was something of a minor miracle for a first film, funny, vulgar and fast-paced, never sacrificing story or tension for earned laughs. Since then, he’s flirted with the third Star Trek and the fifth Die Hard, but he’s only attached himself to dream projects that won’t see fruition until he has more experience under his belt.
OTHER CHOICES: This has always seemed like the big action spectacle that Anchorman director Adam McKay is looking for, but he’d probably want more control, as would David Gordon Green. Among journeymen, Gavin O’Connor seems likely to get a call, while it’s possible Sony will try to poach Colin Trevorrow from the Jurassic World franchise. Indie possibilities include Drake Doremus, Jason Eisener, Aaron Katz and Michael Dowse. And, as he’s currently prepping his directorial debut, it’s possible Gravity co-writer Jonas Cuaron will earn some attention.