The Perfect Director for a ‘Justice League’ Movie
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Justice League.
They are DC Comics answer to ‘The Avengers’. Sure, the Justice League may have been formed three years before the Avengers, and a stronger publication history and its core members are better known to the wider public than those in The Avengers, but since Joss Whedon’s film The Avengers landed in cinemas earlier this year the Justice League are going to be viewed as the poorer substitute. Especially on the big screen.
The pressure is now on for DC, long time rivals of Marvel, to match The Avengers with a similarly awesome big screen adventure. They’re of to a bad start with recent adaptations of Green Lantern and Wonder Woman failing to impress critics or fans and Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale stepping down from the Batman franchise. Man of Steel is due out next year, which fans hope will be the first stepping stone towards a big team up, but that doesn’t solve the big problem: a director able to make it work. Joss Whedon did a fantastic job with The Avengers but they could hardly sign him up leaving DC and the associated studios with an extremely difficult choice to make.
Well, they would if I didn’t have the answer right here.
That fella goes by the name of Brad Bird and he is awesome. Let’s take a look at his past work just to understand what makes him the man for directing Justice League. After starting his career as an animator for Disney he left to work on a range of different projects including the cult films Plague Dogs and writing *batteries not included. Then he was hired to help develop The Simpsons into a half hour program. His most notable credit in the early years of the show was directed and designed the characters for the episode ‘Krusty Gets Busted’, which took a more serious slant than episodes to date and marked the first appearance of series favourite Sideshow Bob. Continuing to mix the serious with the goofy he also directed the sombre ‘Like Father, Like Clown’ that saw Bart and Lisa attempting to reunite Krusty with his Rabbi father. For those who remember back far enough he was also responsible for this rather bizzare short…
…that for all the nostalgic cringe it causes remains one of the most creatively animated products of the show.
Whilst serving as creative consultant for The Simpsons he played a role in many of iconic animated shows of the time. He worked as an animator for the pilot episode of Rugrats as well as The Critic and King of the Hill.
After cementing his reputation as an animator and director he created his first feature film, The Iron Giant. Although only mildly successful at the box office it was a critical success and it fondly remembered by many film fans (surprising considering the title character is played by Vin Diesel). By this stage of the article you may be wondering what by golly any of this has to do with directing a massive big budget and complex live action superhero movie. Among the fans of The Iron Giant was one John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar who invited Bird to pitch an idea. That idea was The Incredibles.
One of the biggest successes in superhero cinema, the movie blended old school comic book style with modern family values and brought it all to life with slick computer animation. The action was imaginative, original and perfectly paced – Bird provided more bang and thrills in this family orientated cartoon than most action directors can achieve in their whole careers. Not that this was a Michael Bay-esque explosathon…the action is blended with dry and slatpstick humour, character development and a tightly told story. Brad Bird even stepped in to provide the voice of fashion designer Edna and (unwittingly) gave his likeness to villain Syndrome.
His time at Pixar hasn’t all been spandex clad heroes though. His second feature for the company, Ratatouille, proved that he was capable of dealing with much more varied themes, and can take a creative approach to unusual topics for film. In this case it’s giving flavours of food a visual element, a challenge Bird meets in a delightful manner. Both films earned Bird the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
So yes. He’s a remarkable director of animated movies.The Incredibles also demonstrates a sound knowledge of superhero conventions. How does that translate into a big-budget, live action blockbuster with an ensemble cast and diverse characters?
Brad Bird intended his first live action film to be 1906 (concerning the L.A. earthquake and government corruption), but wound up landing in the hot seat for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. And wouldn’t you know it, he directed the best the long running and flagging series. The action was downright spectacular with the set pieces being among the most memorable action sequences in recent film history and being featured as the cover art for the recent Blu-Ray release. Action aside it’s the first of the series to genuinely deal with a team of spies and not just Tom Cruise and background characters. Cruise, Rennar, Pegg, Patton, Holloway and others are all handled equally well and play their own role in the film.
Now if we had someone with that kind of imagination, creativity, fresh outlook and the ability to direct big action and an ensemble cast direct the Justice League movie it could be a contender for The Avengers. If there’s anyone with a say in this movie paying attention – get Brad Bird on the phone.