Nearly two weeks after Deadpool 2 lost its director when Tim Miller walked away from a creative disagreement with star Ryan Reynolds, another superhero blockbuster movie is seeking a new lead filmmaker. As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit, director Rick Famuyiwa is no longer helming The Flash.
Famuyiwa, most known for last summer’s indie hit Dope, seemed like an exciting choice to direct a big-budget superhero film because he was an unconventional choice who hadn’t previously directed action or sci-fi projects. But Warner Brothers has tended to hire independent filmmakers to direct their big franchises. For instance, Christopher Nolan took a step up from Memento to make Insomnia, then went on to direct three Batman films for the studio. Gareth Edwards directed Godzilla after his indie film Monsters.
Superhero blockbusters also haven’t had much diversity behind the camera, so it was encouraging to see a Nigerian-American filmmaker in charge of The Flash. Though Famuyiwa hadn’t directed any genre or big-scale films, he does have five movies on his résumé (most recently, HBO’s Confirmation), and experience working with young actors and large ensemble casts, which may have been useful on a production like this one.
What was most intriguing about Famuyiwa directing The Flash is that he seemed capable of bringing energy and comedy to the movie, much like he did with Dope. One of the reasons Marvel movies are so popular is that they’re funny, something DC Films hasn’t caught onto with gloomy, angry movies like Batman v Superman. Surprisingly, however, the creative differences between Famuyiwa and Warner Brothers reportedly stemmed from the director wanting an edgier tone for the film, according to Kit’s report.
The Flash has now gone through two directors during its development. Earlier this spring, Seth Grahame-Smith (who wrote the movie’s screenplay) stepped away from the director’s chair, also due to “creative differences.” Yet Grahame-Smith was a riskier choice to begin with, having never directed a movie before, let alone a big superhero blockbuster. Six months later, the production is again looking for a new director.
This isn’t the first time a Warner Bros./DC Films project has changed directors. Michelle MacLaren was originally supposed to direct Wonder Woman before stepping away due to creative disagreements. But the studio replaced her with Patty Jenkins within days, keeping the production on schedule for a June 9, 2017 release.
The Flash may be the fastest man alive, but his movie probably won’t be in theaters very soon because of this change. Production was set to begin next March, aiming toward a March 16, 2018 release. Unless Warner Bros. has another director ready to go quickly, filming will likely have to be pushed back as star Ezra Miller has another project he’s committed to beginning in July. (Variety‘s Justin Kroll points out that getting another director to jump aboard so soon would be difficult, given that Famuyiwa was rather far into pre-production and a new filmmaker might want to make some changes.)
Warner Bros. and DC Films might want a director with some comedic chops as The Flash is reportedly something of a buddy superhero movie between Miller’s Flash and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, both of whom will be seen in next year’s Justice League. Getting a filmmaker who can concentrate more on tone and script, while producers worry about special effects and tie-ins with the larger DC Extended Cinematic Universe, has been a formula which has worked for Marvel. (Examples being Peyton Reed with Ant-Man and Taika Waititi with Thor: Ragnarok. Before directing two Captain America films, the Russo brothers also came from more of a comedy background.) It might be the way to go here.