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Directors are like fingerprints; no two are completely alike. Whenever a filmmaker takes the reins on a superhero film, you can almost always guarantee that they will leave their own unique mark on that universe. In fact, from Christopher Nolan to James Gunn, some directors seem tailor-made to work with certain superheroes. That being said, time and time again we have seen franchises run into trouble whenever they swap directors midstream. For all of the filmmakers who have improved franchises by signing on to sequels (the Russos Brothers come to mind) there are plenty of others who have driven other series into the ground.
With that in mind, Deadpool 2's director, Tim Miller, recently dropped out of the highly anticipated project, and 20th Century Fox has started to look for his replacement. This has us incredibly worried. We've compiled a list of replacement directors who botched their shots at superhero franchises. Take a look at our entries and let us know what you think. Now let's get the ball rolling with one of the most famous fumbles in superhero movie history...
Batman Forever/Batman & Robin - Joel Schumacher
It's hard to argue against the importance of Tim Burton's Batman movies. Even if certain elements seem dated, the fact remains that the legendary filmmaker completely captured the gothic spirit of The Caped Crusader's city, mission, and overall aesthetic. However, that went down the drain when the franchise brought Joel Schumacher on board. Instead of dark, rich storytelling, Schumacher went full camp and embraced an interpretation of the Batman mythos that felt more interested in selling toys and marketing to kids than getting the universe right. Deadpool will unquestionably be a more popular character by the time Deadpool 2 hits theaters, but the upcoming sequel cannot forget the tone, spirit and overall style that made the first film so beloved. Play to the fans, not the masses.
X-Men: The Last Stand - Brett Ratner
Bryan Singer pretty much started the modern age of superhero movies when he painstakingly directed X-Men and X2: X-Men United. He brought a sense of passion and nerdy enthusiasm to the material that has really become the standard for comic book movies as the years have gone by. That all changed in 2006 when Brett Ratner took the reins for X-Men: The Last Stand. Compared to Singer, Ratner clearly felt much less reverence for the Dark Phoenix source material, and it showed through his shallow handling of the characters. The entire X-Men universe would subsequently remain on shaky ground for almost a decade until Bryan Singer returned for X-Men: Days of Future Past. The folks behind Deadpool 2 must heed this example, because it perfectly encapsulates one of the first rules of comic book adaptations: get someone who knows, loves, and respects the source material.
Thor: The Dark World - Alan Taylor
When Kenneth Branagh directed the first installment in the Thor series, he brought an incredibly distinct Shakespearean sensibility and off-kilter visual style to the table. It was an astonishing feat for such an obscure character, and Thor proved to be the most theatrical Phase 1 Marvel film. Sadly, when Game of Thrones alum, Alan Taylor, took over for Thor: The Dark World, all of that went out the window. Lacking a truly distinctive personal style, Taylor more or less hobbled The Dark World together using lessons clearly picked up from his time on the HBO fantasy series, as well as ample input from Marvel Studios. The resulting product was the blandest Marvel movie to date. Deadpool 2 cannot make this mistake, whoever fills in for Tim Miller needs to share the daring and risky attitude that Miller brought to Wade Wilson's original movie. To play it safe would be to miss the point of Deadpool entirely.
The Amazing Spider-Man - Marc Webb
When Marc Webb took the Spider-Man franchise off of Sam Raimi's hands for The Amazing Spider-Man series in 2012, there was quite a bit of excitement around what the director could do. Not known for blockbuster material (let alone a superhero movie), Webb's most notable credit came in the form of (500) Days of Summer. Sadly, Summer turned out to be the perfect indicator for what to expect from the film, as The Amazing Spider-Man films only really worked during Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey's romantic scenes -- helped in large part by the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone. Despite being a competent filmmaker, Webb proved almost immediately that he was a cursory fan of the source material by comparison to his predecessor. With Deadpool 2 on the horizon, 20th Century Fox needs to make sure they bring someone on board who can capture the style necessary for a Deadpool movie, and who also has an intimate knowledge of the comics -- not just someone who can rehash the Deadpool greatest hits.
Superman III - Richard Lester
There's a strong case to be made that Richard Donner's Superman films are the most important superhero movies of all time. They treated the source material with love, and proved that men in capes could have mainstream appeal. That being said, the legacy of the Donner-era Superman films was almost immediately tarnished when the franchise was handed to Richard Lester for Superman III. Primarily known for comedies, Lester's influence on the film led to some of the most jarring tonal shifts ever seen in a superhero franchise, often relying on slapstick humor and the unbearable presence of Richard Pryor's Gus Gorman to generate "laughs." Even Superman actor, Christopher Reeve, vocally spoke out against Lester's influence on the franchise after the film's release, citing that the filmmaker was "always looking for a gag." Deadpool is obviously quite different than Superman, but that doesn't change the fact that Tim Miller established a certain tone and style that worked for this universe. That needs to be respected by whoever takes over.