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Now that Captain America has been cast it's time for Marvel to take the next big step forward on their multiple-movie, superhero universe project. Everything they've done and will do in Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and The First Avenger: Captain America culminates in a still far off summer tent pole team-up movie called Avengers. For Marvel it's a monumentally important film, but perhaps even more critically a desperately difficult one. Whoever ends up directing it will be tasked with handling a massive ensemble cast of established stars, a huge budget, a massively effects heavy movie, decades worth of established comics mythology, and the unreachable expectations of a billion fanboys. Directing The Avengers will require a special sort of talent.

Thanks to Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier we know that Marvel already has a mysterious short list of directors they want in charge of this monumentally important project, and we know that Leterrier is on it. No offense Louis, but we're hoping you're pretty far down on it. Avengers is too important a project and Marvel, you can do better. The obvious choice for the job is Jon Favreau, but he's already made it clear that he's taken himself out of the running. That means it's up to us to steer Marvel in the right direction. Hey Kevin Feige, before you make that horrifying call to Brett Ratner, consider hiring one of these directors instead:


Timur Bekmambetov
Timur Bekmambetov is a Russian director best known in America as the guy at the helm of Wanted, on which he worked closely with comic creator Mark Millar. In Russia, he's also known as the director of their Night Watch series, the most popular movies in Russian history. They're kind of like The Matrix with vampires. He's no stranger to event movies and he's a pro when it comes to adapting comics. Who knows how he'd handle such a massive, ensemble cast but Bekmambetov's take no prisoners, blockbuster style could be a fascinating way to approach Marvel's Avengers team-up movie.


Alfonso Cuaron
Curaon directed what is without a doubt the best of the Harry Potter movies in Azkaban, which means not only does he have a knack for gorgeous visual effects he's had a lot of experience dealing with a large, ensemble cast. More importantly, he's ridiculously talented at pretty much anything and everything. He's made his name handling all manners of different subject matters and styles with unmatched ability. His last movie, Children of Men was easily one of the best science fiction movies of the past decade, and used gritty realism in contrast to the fantasy reality of Azkaban. He's done everything from sex movies, to kids movies, to futuristic war. He's never done superheroes and though he has a few projects in early stages of development, he hasn't done a movie since 2006. Cuaron is due for a big return and it doesn't get any bigger than Avengers.


J.J. Abrams
Looking for a great ensemble film with great action sequences? Try and remember all the way back to the beginning of summer in 2009 and you'll find director J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. Yes, it was the movie that got Chris Hemsworth the lead in Thor, but that isn't the point. Overuse of lens flare aside, in just two hours the film was able to give complete back stories to its two main characters while paying dedicated attention to its source material. What more can you really ask from the director of The Avengers? Throw on the fact that he has no problem taking on an existing series and you have a formula for a perfect Avengers director.


Kenneth Branagh
When Kenneth Branagh was announced as the director of Thor, geeks worldwide did a spit-take and exclaimed, "The Shakespeare guy?" This reaction was somewhat warranted: Branagh has never been seen as a big budget director, and, yes, five of the directors 13 credits are based on Shakespeare plays. But giving Branagh the reigns of both Thor and the Avengers would give the series continuity, and if you imagine the presentation that Branagh must have delivered to producers and look at the film's incredible cast, it seems certain that everyone involved knows exactly what they're doing. Unlike Iron Man or Captain America, Thor takes place in a much larger universe, incorporating not only his character on Earth, as disabled medical student Donald Blake, but in the Norse world of Asgard where he is the God of Thunder. Branagh is the man Marvel brought on to direct the most epic aspect of the Avengers team and that level of filmmaking will be needed for their team-up.


Paul Greengrass
Paul Greengrass's gritty, realistic, shaky-cam style might seem like a strange fit for a superhero movie but, before Snyder's version took off, he was actually pretty far along on his own Watchmen take. Greengrass is obviously interested in superhero movies of a sort, and he's already attempted to make the most unfilmable superhero movie . His close-in style could be a way to handle the project's otherwise overly bloated budget Allow Greengrass to give some of the film's super-powered fights a more intimate tone and you'll keep Avengers awesome while saving money on expansive CGI. It's unlikely that Marvel could get him interested, it's hard to imagine Greengrass taking the reigns on something so many other directors have already had a hand in defining, but The Bourne Ultimatum is easily one of the best action movies of the decade and if you can get the guy who made that on board with the Avengers then you take him.


Zack Snyder
With two comic adaptations already under his belt, there is little chance that Zack Snyder would balk at the chance to direct such an epic comic book movie event flick. He has proven three times now that he's capable of creating fantastic action sequences, and, as seen in Watchmen, he has no trouble balancing a group of superheroes, and giving each one plenty of screen time to appease fans (though credit for that should be shared with writer Alan Moore). Since Marvel announced a plan to amalgamate all of its characters in to one film, critics and fanboys alike have wondered if the task is even doable. So why not give it to the man who tackled the "unfilmable" graphic novel?


Brad Bird
You can have your Dark Knight or your Spider-Man 2, even though it's computer animated, Brad Bird's The Incredibles is the best superhero story ever put to film. He's never done live-action before, but recently he's flirted with making the jump from animation, and his talent is too impressive to be limited by format. In a way, The Incredibles is exactly the kind of team-up movie you'd want Avengers to be, minus the familial element. For Bird, super-team-ups are old hat. Better still, he's already shown the ability to jump in and build on material started by others. Ratatouille was originally someone else's film before Bird was brought in at the eleventh hour to take the reigns and bring it back on track. He may not have experience with big-budget, live-action effects but with movies like The Iron Giant and The Incredibles already under his belt he's proven a mastery over brilliant storytelling on an epic scale.


Mark Millar
Millar may not yet be a well known name amongst movie fans, but he holds the rank of royalty in the comic book world. While he has yet to direct a feature, he has served as a producer on both of hi movie adaptations, Wanted and Kick-Ass. More recently Millar announced that he'll be begin making his directing debut with a superhero flick of his own creation this summer in his native Scotland. In the comic book world, most know of him through his work on Civil War, which is as big an ensemble work as there is in comics. Sure there's little chance that Marvel would take a project so monumental and place it in the hands of someone so inexperienced, but few out there that have dipped their toes into both the film and comic worlds like Millar has.


Bryan Singer
People look at the task of making a multi-superhero film as though it has never been done before. Not only has Bryan Singer done it, but he did it twice. In both X-Men and X2, Singer utilized his large cast perfectly, spending enough time with each of the main characters to create depth without sacrificing structure. To truly see how deft the director was in doing this, all you have to do is watch Brett Ratner's jumbled mess in the third installment. Hell, going from Wolverine, Jean Grey, Professor X, Rogue, Cyclops Storm and Magneto to just Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk might be a walk in the park for Singer.


Jonathan Mostow
Jonathan Mostow is the most "gettable" director on this list and maybe for Marvel, the one that might end up making the most sense. He first got attention back in 2000 for directing the capable submarine movie U-571 and he followed that up with the extremely divisive Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. While fans may debate the merits of making a third Terminator movie there'd no denying that in it Mostow showed a serious talent for pulling off massively eye-popping, big-budget battle sequences. More recently he directed the capable sci-fi thriller Surrogates, based on a graphic novel. There again, Mostow showed a real talent for visually stunning effects sequences, even when saddled with what was rather mediocre script. He's experienced with the comic book genre, he knows big-budget action, he's done a movie in which he joined an existing franchise midstream, and while in the past he's been rumored for mostly dead in the water projects like Sub-Mariner right now he doesn't seem all that busy. Marvel, give him a call.