A Case For Lesser Known Directors

Some people are critical of Marvel using lesser known directors for the superhero properties–the main one being that they’re cheaper than better known talent.  This relates directly to rumors that they’re considering  Rick Famuyiwa and Ava DuVernay, for upcoming Marvel projects.

And while their relative inexpensiveness is undeniably a factor, I don’t think it’s nearly as important as some make it out to be.

What’s more interesting is that Marvel has a history of allowing relatively inexperienced (in the terms of handling massive productions that require huge special effects budgets) directors to build multi-million dollar franchises.

Which isn’t to say that it always works out.  After all, Edgar Wright left the upcoming Ant-Man because his vision (and screenplay) didn’t quite mesh with what Marvel Studios wanted, and Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) was a bit put out because Marvel demanded certain changes during filming that he was not particularly happy about.

But the thing is, the successes of Marvel’s approach have been far more convincing than any problems, potential or otherwise.

For instance, before James Gunn directed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, he was known primarily for his writing and directing small-budget movies, such as Slither and Super.

The success of Guardians moved him, as a director, to a whole new strata.  The same thing goes for Ang Lee.  His Hulk (a Universal Pictures production) was underpowered at the box office, but it did show that Lee was capable of working with very effects-heavy movies, and I feel certain that had a bearing on him helming  Life of Pi.

Another pseudo-criticism, also applying to Famuyiwa and DuVernay, is that they’re connected to Marvel’s effort to seek diverse talent for their projects.

And that’s true. though it’s by no means the whole story, and underneath for some there’s an unspoken implication that directors of color and women and only handle projects that deal specifically with people of color and women.

And that’s wrong for all sorts of reasons.

Another problem that a lot of people are quick to call a movie “diverse” just because it has a black/female director or a black lead actor.  The thing is, that black director or lead actor may be the one of relatively few black people–of the hundreds, if not thousands in some instances–involved with the entire production.

In other words, until people of color as well as women are in the writer’s room; working behind as well as in front of the camera, the diversity some seem so proud to crow about is little more than window dressing.

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