A couple of weeks ago when news broke that Rick Famuyiwa had abruptly exited The Flash, my co-hosts on the LOS FANBOYS Podcast asked me who I thought should replace him. At the time, I found myself kind of reaching. No one really sprang instantly to mind, and so I made a couple of half-hearted suggestions on the spot. But, being that all things DC are so near and dear to my heart, I’ve continued to think and think and…think…and a name suddenly popped into my head and I’m now prepared to plead my case for why Brett Ratner would actually be an ideal man for the job.
With Famuyiwa’s sudden departure, and amidst rumors that Warner Bros. was at a “To Delay, or Not To Delay?” crossroads, I mentioned that I hope that the WB learns from Fox’s mistakes on X3. This wasn’t a dig at Ratner. It was a dig at a studio more concerned with getting to a release date than making sure the film was as good as it can be.
I should start by telling you to stop rolling your cynical eyes (though it’s probably too late for that), because I know that all the “cool kids” like to deride Ratner because of X-Men: The Last Stand. I’ve always been a vocal defender of the director when it comes to that movie, and I’m about to make my final, definitive case for why all of that Fanboy Hate that he receives for that film is totally unwarranted.
For starters, he didn’t write it. So any complaints about the story, or dissatisfaction with which characters got killed off, or gripes about how the script for X3 was a far cry from the triumph that was X2: X-Men United have nothing to do with Brett Ratner. Period. And longtime readers may say, “But Mario, aren’t you always criticizing Zack Snyder for his DC movies even though he didn’t write them? You hypocrite!” Well, I’ll address that in my second point below.
Ratner, as a director, was handcuffed for X3. When he was hired to replace Matthew Vaughn (who had replaced Bryan Singer, who had flown to the coop to direct Superman Returns for Warner Bros), Fox didn’t move the release date. They left X3 locked into the same date it was going to have when Singer was working on it. This meant that Ratner would end up getting only three months to prepare this huge movie, as opposed to the 6-8 months a director would typically get for pre-production. So Ratner basically jumped onto a train that was already moving.
Take a moment to think about that. Ratner was asked to direct a $210 million movie with a huge cast, tons of CG, and all of the other logistical joys that are typically attached to blockbusters of that size…with only roughly 90 days to get everything in order. That’s why I give him more leeway than someone like Snyder, for example, who had plenty of time to get his DC films up to his standards. Snyder and co. had two and a half years, complete with delays to work on the script, to get Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice right.
Then, by some miracle, Ratner got X3 out on time…and did it bomb? No! The film opened to $102 million and, to this day, it’s the #1 domestic earner out of all of the X-Men movies (with the only exception being this year’s spinoff, Deadpool). In terms of critical response it scored a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes which, as I’ve argued in the past, doesn’t make it a bad movie. Anything in the 40-60 range basically means, “Roughly half of the critics liked it, and roughly half didn’t. So it’s a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.”
And yet, to hear internet fanboys talk about it you’d think that X-Men: The Last Stand was some sort of epic fail and that Ratner should be banished to the Island of Unfit Directors.
It defies logic, and it’s a misconception that demands rethinking.
Something I touched on in my recurring WB/DCEU column is that Ratner was once attached to direct a Superman reboot. This was in the early 00s, and it was going to work off of a script by J.J. Abrams. Latino-Review actually had the opportunity to read and review that script back in 2003- which was a draft that did away with one of Abrams’ sillier ideas: Making Lex Luthor a Kryptonian. Speaking to Kellvin about it today, he spoke glowingly of that script and said it would’ve made for a great Superman movie with lots of heart. Ratner had even lined up his Red Dragon stars Ralph Fiennes and Anthony Hopkins to play Luthor and Jor-El, respectively.
For More On That, Read: “MFR Explores The DCEU’s Road To Ruin: Column #2“
The consensus here at LR (before we got the M!) was that it was a missed opportunity. And that’s one of the reasons I think Ratner deserves another shot at making a proper DC movie.
Ratner has shown himself to be a rather versatile filmmaker. From the action-packed comedic hijinks of the Rush Hour trilogy, to the more grown-up psychological thriller that Red Dragon was, to the thoughtful family-friendly meditation that The Family Man was, Ratner has shown that he knows how to make entertaining films in a variety of styles. Hell, even his Hercules movie with Dwayne Johnson was a totally different animal, and plenty of fun, to boot.
I can only imagine what he’d be able to cook up with The Flash star Ezra Miller as his lead. We already know, based on our glimpses of Miller’s Barry Allen in the Justice League trailer, that The Flash is likely to be more comedic and upbeat than some of the more moody and dreary stuff we’ve seen from the DCEU so far. So even if you only enjoyed the Rush Hour flicks, you know he’s already got you covered in the comedy and action departments.
Also, his Ratpac Entertainment shingle already has a great working relationship with Warner Bros., so you know he’d be a team player- and he’s proven that he can turn in a hit movie in even the most unlikely circumstances.
I think Ratner deserves a second shot at making an epic superhero adventure, and- if Warner Bros. did pull the trigger and hire him- I can only hope they’d give him enough time to actually prep the film.
And I happen to know, for a fact, that he’d love a chance to direct something like The Flash.
So, WB, the ball’s in your court…