Jon Watts‘ time behind the Spider-Man camera is coming to an end. The director will close his run on the character with this year’s No Way Home before making a lateral move to take control of Marvel Studios’ Fantastic Four franchise. This means that, should Tom Holland‘s Peter Parker be renewed for a second trilogy, the series will require a brand new supervisor. Luckily, there is no shortage of hungry talent in Hollywood that would be perfect to helm one of the world’s most profitable intellectual properties. I’ve taken the liberty of combing through the endless list of names to present you with five that I think have a shot at keeping things interesting.
Let’s talk about Dope. The 2015 indie hit is a coming-of-age tale about an intelligent, nerdy kid thrust into a bigger, more dangerous world than he ever intended to join. Doesn’t it sound familiar? It was all pulled off with softhearted, fast-paced brilliance by the maestro Rick Famuyiwa, who is perhaps my top pick to direct the next entry in the Spider-Man mythos. If his name sounds familiar to all the geeks out there, it’s because he’s spent the past couple of years directing acclaimed episodes of The Mandalorian. His work shows his good relationship with Disney and his adeptness at mixing big-budget action with tender personal moments. Famuyiwa‘s early projects, like Brown Sugar, prove he can handle Peter’s romantic personal life, and the brief time he was hired to direct Warner Bros.’ The Flash gave the world a tease at how committed he could be to bringing a comic adaptation to life.
Maybe the fan-favorite pick to helm the next generation of Spider-Man. It makes so much sense that I barely feel the need to elaborate. Edgar Wright makes crowd-pleasing movies that are fast, fun, and colorful. His protagonists are typically quirky, with skill and a heart of gold. All in all, Wright‘s sensibilities feel tailor-made for the realm of Peter Parker, and comic purists would be pleased to know the guy who ripped Scott Pilgrim vs. The World straight off the page was in charge of bringing Spidey into adulthood. He has worked with Marvel Studios in the past, and while it didn’t end on the best of terms, it seems that hatchet got buried some time ago.
You may best know Zoe Lister-Jones for her work in front of the television camera. She had a recurring role on New Girl and Life in Pieces. Yet, some of her best work in the industry might have happened in the director’s chair. Lister-Jones entered the scene with an underrated masterpiece, Band Aid, which focused on a married couple who use music as a form of couple’s therapy. More recently, she produced How It Ends, wherein a woman tries coming to terms with herself before the world ends.
If you didn’t pick up on it, there’s a theme in her body of work. She’s obsessed with discussing the human condition, and it’s the kind of obsession any director needs to have if they’re going to get to the heart of Spider-Man correctly. She might not have a gigantic resume, but Marvel loves to hire up-and-coming indie filmmakers with a good pitch and a better passion.
Justin Lin is the unsung hero of the modern blockbuster. This is the man who made the Fast & Furious franchise a global sensation and reminded audiences that a big-budget Star Trek film could be both beautiful and thought-provoking. As ridiculous as some of Lin‘s projects can be, there are few directors working today that manage to produce such outrageous action scenes while keeping the idea of love and family so central to their story. Many people forget that the Taiwanese filmmaker also has a background in acclaimed television. He directed the famous paintball episode of Community and episodes of the Emmy-winning True Detective. His range alone, with experience in both low-budget and big-budget comedy, action, and drama, is enough to justify a Spidey nod from Marvel Studios.
At first, it may sound like a reach, but hear me out. Rob McElhenney has never directed a film before, but he has produced some of the last decade’s best episodes of television history. Everyone knows he co-created America’s finest comedy series, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but fewer people seem to know about his work on the AppleTV+ show Mythic Quest. There, McElhenney has directed what could be equated to four nearly-perfect short films, handling topics like the downfall of marriage, the growth of man, and the brutal COVID-19 pandemic with grace and understanding. If Marvel Studios and Sony wanted to go outside the box with their pick to bring Peter Parker’s college years to life, they could do a lot worse than McElhenney.