If you’re going to get Michael B. Jordan to star in “The Matrix” redo, who better to direct him than Ryan Coogler? He’s pulled it off three times so far with at least two glorious results. Coogler put himself and Jordan on the map with the 2013 Sundance indie drama “Fruitvale Station,” and the cache of that film led the now 30-year-old filmmaker to helm the celebrated “Rocky” spin-off “Creed,” once again with Michael B. Jordan as his star. For his next trick, Coogler is directing Marvel‘s “Black Panther” which also features Jordan in a major role, reportedly the main villain. The pair know each other well and with chemistry like this, if Jordan does indeed get the part, he could easily suggest (quite strongly) to Warner Bros. that Coogler should be his main co-conspirator. Time will tell, but there’s has to be little to no question about this incredible filmmaker’s abilities right now.
Speaking of leaps, Alex Garland had written many contemporary sci-fi classics like, “28 Days Later,” and “Sunshine,” before jumping in head first with his original sci-fi film, and directorial debut, “Ex Machina.” One of A24’s most financially successful films ever and one of the biggest indie hits of 2014, “Ex Machina” was a sublime take on artificial intelligence with style, soul and substance. Garland has a brain on fire with excellent sci-fi ideas and his next project, the surreal sci-fi “Annihilation,” sounds like it’ll be highly anticipated whenever it lands. It’s really a question if Garland would ever go to big tentpole (he did write “Dredd“) or just stay at home happy with his own fertile creative ideas.
Quickly making her way up the food chain of hungry and creative filmmakers, Reed Morano is having a moment. A cinematographer turned director (she shot movies like “The Skeleton Twins,” “Kill Your Darlings,” the LCD Soundsystem movie “Shut Up and Play the Hits“), Morano’s experience is making her a go-to filmmaker. While her feature directorial debut “Meadowlands” didn’t quite come together on a screenplay level, it demonstrated two key elements. 1) She could direct actors (Olivia Wilde and Luke Wilson both delivered two of their best performances) 2) she could direct actors (the supporting cast is terrific and even a small appearance by Elisabeth Moss is incredible) and 3) she’s got an amazing, visual eye. Ever since, she’s been high in demand, shooting five episodes of Martin Scorsese‘s “Vinyl,” acting as DP on Beyonce‘s “Lemonade“, plus directing eps of PeakTV favorites like “Billions” and “Halt And Catch Fire.” Up next for her is “The Handmaid’s Tale” for Hulu and all we can say for now is: believe the hype.
Brit Marling Collaborators: Zal Batmanglij or Mike Cahill
Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij go hand in hand. The filmmaker jump started his career with Brit Marling, collaborating on “The Sound Of My Voice” and “The East,” before going deep with the hugely ambitious and daring Netflix show “The OA.” As a director, Batmanglij has got the goods, and his sci-fi films always include a soulful human element that bring a rare emotional dimension and humanity. It would just be a matter if he’s interested in big studio filmmaking like this. Another option is Marling’s other BFF collaborator, Mike Cahill, who directed the actress/writer in similarly humanist and heady sci-fi films like “Another Earth” and “I Origins.” The latter, a more mainstream effort, even had a kind of alternative superhero teaser tag at the end. Cahill was also on the shortlist of “He-Man: Masters of The Universe” so clearly he’s open to pitching and taking on bigger tentpoles. They could both be hold choices, and while we’re at it, why not Brit Marling to lead “The Matrix”?
James Ward Byrkit
If someone like Shane Carruth is probably too independent-minded to take the blockbuster red pill, James Ward Byrkit might be a good compromise pick — someone who’s made a hugely effective sci-fi mind-bender, but has some blockbuster experience too. Byrkit’s a regular collaborator of Gore Verbinski, having been a conceptual artist on the “Pirates Of the Caribbean” trilogy before co-writing the excellent “Rango.” His first feature “Coherence,” a film that transforms from L.A. dinner party drama to parallel worlds sci-fi brilliance, was mostly unseen in theaters but has been building a cult audience on Netflix. It would be a big leap for him to take on “The Matrix,” but not that much bigger than the one the Wachowskis took from “Bound,” and Byrkit would hopefully ensure that any new ‘Matrix’ movie has some substance as well as style.
Too many to pick, really, but our long list included fifty or more filmmakers. Top of mind are “Stranger Things” directors the Duffer Brothers who are obviously white hot at the moment. We’re sure they would love a crack at it and it won’t surprise us if they end up on short lists. Nacho Vigalondo’s earning a lot of buzz with his monster movie “Colossal,” Shane Carruth would be amazing, but his sensibilities are obviously way too arty for a 4 quadrant vehicle. Bong Joon-Ho may feel like an obvious choice, but again, we like Yeon Sang-Ho for this a little bit better and Joon-Ho feels like he’s in that sweet spot of being able to make smart, creative original ideas for years to come. Drew Goddard would be perfect. It’s a matter if he’s interested or free. Travis Knight (“Kubo & The Two Strings”) was another name we seriously considered along with Don Hall & Chris Williams (“Big Hero 6”), Patty Jenkins (who may not want to take on another tentpole of that scale right after “Wonder Woman”), Kimberley Peirce (“Carrie” remake), David Leitch/Chad Stahelski (“John Wick,” “Deadpool 2”) and Miguel Sapochnik who has made his name as the kind of superstar director who always helms the last two (usually killer) episodes of “Game Of Thrones.”