The Flash may be great at keeping the meta-humans locked down, but the "Fastest Man Alive" can’t seem to lock-down a director. If you haven’t read or heard already the highly anticipated Flash solo movie lost Rick Famuyiwa. #WarnerBros. head of the #DCEU Geoff Johns will be taking interviews for the third time for the film that’s set to be released March 16, 2018 starring Ezra Miller and Kiersey Clemons.
The Flash And Creative Differences Go Hand In Hand
This news comes just seven months after Pride and Prejudice Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter director Seth Grahame-Smith stepped down. Rick cited “creative differences” as the reason for leaving the project, which were the same words #TheFlash’s previous director used. The newly departed director spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about his exit:
“When I was approached by Warner Bros. and DC about the possibility of directing 'The Flash,' I was excited about the opportunity to enter this amazing world of characters that I loved growing up, and still do to this day. I was also excited to work with Ezra Miller, who is a phenomenal young actor. I pitched a version of the film in line with my voice, humor and heart. While it's disappointing that we couldn't come together creatively on the project, I remain grateful for the opportunity. I will continue to look for opportunities to tell stories that speak to a fresh generational, topical and multicultural point of view. I wish Warner Bros., DC, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns and Ezra Miller all the best as they continue their journey into the speed force.”
Rick Famuyiwa wasn’t exactly rewriting the entire script. In fact, many reports suggested any director of The Flash would be asked to work with a blueprint set by the previous director. Seth Grahame-Smith developed his script based on an outline created by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, It is difficult to dissect or pinpoint exactly what #WB’s discrepancies were from Rick’s politically correct statement. THR also reported:
“Sources say that the 'Dope' helmer’s vision of making a movie with more edge clashed with the studio’s take.”
Conversely (at least based on the recent history), it appears that the WB’s inability to yield power may have cost them a chance to tell a story that would have been uniquely gratifying and culturally relevant. It’s a bit confusing considering the way Warner Bros. selected directors.
Rick Famuyiwa Had Everything WB Asked For
The studio appeared to be spearheading their "other" #DCEU heroes with a selective group of directors who would give audience a unique and fresh depiction of their heroes, and Rick Famuyiwa more than fit the bill. Rick was outstanding out the gate, at just 27 years old, Famuyiwa was nominated for a Black Reel Award for Best Director and a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Motion Picture for The Wood back in 2000. For is work on Brown Sugar, he was once again nominated for NAACP Image Award in 2003.
However, it would be his 2015 independent film Dope that put him on the map. The teen comedy, which starred up-and-comers Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, and Kiersey Clemons debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, receiving critical praise in route to becoming one of the hottest indie films of 2015. The film was so enticing studios wanted to duke it out for the rights to the film.
Dope would of course work its way to mainstream and became one of the highest grossing indie films of 2015, raking in almost $18 million. Dope was hardly his first time Famuyiwa turned straw into gold. Both The Wood and Brown Sugar were low budget productions that tripled in profit. Rick possess the ability to make small budget films financially successful while telling a great story. Those qualities also reflected WB's other hires, like #Aquaman's James Wan.
At first glance, #JamesWan and Rick Famuyiwa might not look like a fair comparison, but both men worked with low production budget and had big returns and their pinned the scripts of the most of the movies they directed. For the most part, the two men also lacked the ideal resume that directly correlated with making comic book movies. While Rick was used to directing black romantic comedies like Our Family Wedding and Brown Sugar. James was directing straight horror movies, but the #WB decided to give him the keys to #Aquaman.
If you haven’t followed Wan’s career, the 39-year-old director is mostly known for his horror films, with the exception of one: Furious 7. More specifically, Wan was the man that brought us Saw back in 2004. Since 2004, he’s directed seven other films, including: Insidious, Dead Silence, The Conjuring, among others. His unique vision is something that sets him apart, and the studio saw that, which is why they wanted him for #Aquaman.
Another example would be Michelle McLaren, who was originally slated to direct #WonderWoman. She had never directed a blockbuster film, but her work clearly caught the eye of the studio. Her resume included mostly TV shows like: The X-Files, Breaking Bad, and #GameOfThrones. Michelle, like Rick, also parted ways with WB due to “creative differences” according to THR in 2015:
Given creative differences, Warner Bros. and Michelle MacLaren have decided not to move forward with plans to develop and direct 'Wonder Woman' together.
Following her exit, the powers that be decided to go with Patty Jenkins as their Wonder Women director. The 45-year-old director’s resume included shorts and TV shows with 2003’s Monster being the only feature film on her resume. Patty is sure to give the world a unique take on arguably the most notable female superhero of all time.
Whether or not you’re a fan of any of these directors, one thing is clear. Each one of the names associated with the #DCEU has some freshness about them. All of the directors have delivered excellent films one way or the other with a vision that made their work feel special, just like Rick Famuyiwa. The Flash needed to be able to relate to a younger audience as a whole and Rick Famuyiwa resume proves he can do just that.
Rick Would Have Made Barry Allen Relatable
If you’ve seen Dope you’ll notice the way Rick was able to capture and deliver a movie that was fairly representative of life in the urban community. The story itself wasn’t complex, but speaking from the perspective of a guy raised in the hood and listening to hip-hop, the presentation of hip-hop and the struggles of urban youth were heartfelt, lighthearted, and pretty accurate.
With the help of a great cast, Rick seamlessly infused group of unorthodox, but very engaging teens into a world full of sex, and drugs with a moral compass. This was much like your Superbads and Project Xs, with sex and some raunchiness, but the plot twist and battle between doing the right or wrong thing was different from other teen comedies. Dope didn’t shy away from sexual or racial orientation, but delivered it in a way that was genuinely palpable for everyone — not just for urban America, African-Americans, the LBGT community, and hip-hop heads. You could only imagine and expect the director to bring those same core values to The Flash.
With a very young actor like Ezra Miller dealing with the everyday struggles of life on top of being a hero is a coming-of-age story like Dope. The young cast would be living in today’s world and based on what we saw from the Justice League trailer: Barry isn’t exactly living it up in Star City. It all directly favors Rick’s ability to make his characters (in this case, Iris and Barry) relatable. In fact, I’d go as far as to say Shameik Moore’s character Malcolm (Dope), was similar to Barry Allen. Both struggled to fit in because of their unimpressive social skills and superior intellect. Like Malcolm, Barry is young and in a less than stellar financial class. Both Barry and Malcolm are charming, funny, and witty. The mitigating factors all favor Rick's ability to give Barry a fresh take, but maybe WB couldn't bring themselves to make a movie with a particular theme.
Rick Famuyiwa's Multi-Cultured Theme Was Perfect For The Flash
A story told with a multi-cultural theme is exactly what The Flash needs, especially with the studio opting for a racially diverse cast, with Kiersey Clemons set to play Iris West. If you don’t know the story, Iris and Barry are like Lois and Clark — they’re “destined” to be together. Even if the script didn’t have the two as a couple, it still falls along the lines of employing a multi-cultured premise. Ezra Miller also realized the importance of making a movie that’s both super and relatable:
“I think there’s just an intention to make something extremely fun and something superhuman and something deeply human. It’s the thing we’re all trying to do, but I think Rick’s mind and his heart are in an excellent place, and his expertise as a filmmaker, as evidenced by 'Dope,' all come together as very exciting factors to me.”
Personally, there was a sense of pride and admiration seeing Rick Famuyiwa becoming just the second African-American director in comic book cinema. The only other man to helm such a project is #BlackPanther director Ryan Coogler.
Even #TheFlash star Kiersey Clemons voiced her displeasure with the studio's inability to work with Rick Famuyiwa. According to THR, Clemons stated how Rick was one of the main reasons she signed on to play Iris:
"Rick was one of the main reasons I wanted to do the movie... So him not being a part of it is obviously very upsetting to me...All I can do is give it up to the gods. Let's see what happens. Let's see who's going to jump in."
Despite my irritation and utter annoyance that the WB couldn’t find a way to work with Rick Famuyima, I understand that this isn’t the end (or at least I hope not). According to reports, Ezra Miller won’t be waiting around for the WB to find a director. The Flash is supposed to start pre-production March 2017. Despite Kiersey Clemons shooting a cameo scene in Justice League, the search for a director might delay filming, which could possibly cause certain cast members to follow Rick out the door. Though, according to Kiersey, she and Ezra will fulfill their commitment.
"Ezra and I are going to do what we promised to do from the beginning... No matter who the director is, I am going to do what I think Iris should be."
Warner Bros. missed out on something special with Rick Famuyia and the studio is pressed for time. Let's hope they can do their best Barry Allen impersonation and make their next hiring happen in a flash.
We don't have to wait until 2018 to see the Scarlet Speedster with Justice League hitting theaters November 17, 2017.