David Fincher Explains What His ‘Spider-Man’ Would Have Looked Like

by on October 21st, 2010
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There has been a lot of fan excitement since David Fincher told io9.com what he planned to do if he had directed the “Spider-Man” franchise instead of current director Marc Webb. In an exclusive interview, Fincher said he would ignore much of the origin story because that part of the tale did not interest him. His idea for the movie was to bring in the Green Goblin and have him kill Gwen Stacey.

That is an interesting direction: That storyline in the comic books was one of the driving forces behind the character of Spider-Man and one of the most famous arcs in the character’s history. It also would have been interesting to see what someone with the visual talents of Fincher could have accomplished with a superhero movie. Seeing his work in “Fight Club” and “Panic Room,” there is no telling what he could have accomplished with a superhero flying through the skies.

It isn’t that far off, either. Comic book adaptations have brought in some very unusual choices for directors, with varying results.

Ang Lee, “The Hulk”

Ang Lee created what might be the most polarizing comic book adaptation of all time when he directed “Hulk” in 2003. Lee, an art director more famous for the Oscar-nominated “Brokeback Mountain,” tried to direct “Hulk” as a serious film. The resulting movie turned away many die-hard comic book fans, as well as those who were hoping for a more action-packed superhero movie.

Lee did a lot of good things with “Hulk,” including making many moments in the movie look like comic book panels with transitions you might expect from reading one. However, he also condensed the action and paid more attention to David Banner and his plight at controlling the beast within. Five years later, “The Incredible Hulk” hit theaters and critics complained there was too much action involved. You really can’t please anyone.

Christopher Nolan, “Batman Begins”

The most striking example of a prestige director taking on a mainstream comic book project occurred when Christopher Nolan directed “Batman Begins.” Nolan made his name with smaller movies like “Memento” and brought his unique sensibilities with him, redefining what comic book movies could look like. Much like Lee, Nolan was interested in making a superhero movie as a serious film. Unlike Lee, Nolan succeeded.

More of a crime drama than a men-in-tights adventure, “Batman Begins” shows the origin of Bruce Wayne and how be becomes Batman. It then flashes forward to Batman’s war on crime in Gotham City. What makes this movie so interesting is there are no super-powered beings seen in Nolan’s universe. Everything that happens is manmade and relies on science more than fantasy. He improved on his work with “The Dark Knight,” the most successful comic book adaptation of all time.

Kenneth Branagh, “Thor”

Looking back on the movie, there was no director better for “Thor” than Kenneth Branagh. “Thor” faced serious commercial problems from the start. For one thing, Thor was not like Iron Man, a superhero based on worldly technology. Thor is a god, part of the Norse legend. He is not a man who becomes a hero but a god who must learn how to be a man.

Branagh is a Shakespearian auteur, and that worked perfectly for this film. The most interesting parts of “Thor” were the Asgard scenes, with a family situation straight out of a Shakespeare play. There is no director in Hollywood as perfect of a match for this story than Branagh. It was still strange to see him directing superheroes and villains, with giant CGI and explosions, but when you look at the heart of the story, he was the perfect director for the project.

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