Let’s be clear right off the bat: there’s no replicating George Miller. The man is a genius three times over, and the world of Mad Max is undeniably his offspring. But as film fans know, things change and characters and worlds live on long after their creators have moved on. While recently talking to Studio 360, Miller said of course he’d be willing to let another director take over the Mad Max franchise. Though he said this in the context of discussing young and up and coming directors, it doesn’t seem he’d put up much of a fight if an already established director took over the reins, as long as they made something original and extraordinary. While AE’s skills of prediction aren’t refined enough to select the best up-and-comers who could take on Miller’s world (yet), we do possess the necessary skills to channel the First History Man and look back at the careers of our established filmmakers in order to choose those best to walk the Wastelands.
If there’s one director who could even conceivably manage to get in the realm of Miller’s frenetic energy, kinetic style, and eye for detail and world-building, it’s Gore Verbinski. While he’s had a few misfires, he showed an impressive eye for sweeping action and insanely imaginative set pieces in his Pirates of the Caribbean films. While the latter two films in his trilogy get bogged down by plot details, they are wildly entertaining and spectacle driven. With The Ring, Verbinski showed off his ability to create tension and with Rango, his ability to handle a multitude of fleshed out characters and fan-service. If those elements could be combined with a great screenplay, then we could have something really special on our hands. As bad as The Lone Ranger was, the scenes where Verbinski could let loose and construct train fights and destruction proved that he could handle the constant motion of Mad Max’s world.
If you ever wonder why Evans makes so many of our director shortlists, it’s because he’s that good. If you’ve witnessed The Raid and The Raid 2, then you know what we’re talking about. Evans can handle both personal confrontations and large-scale battles, making him an easy fit for the Wasteland. While Fury Road took place almost entirely on vehicles, it would be interesting to step back into spaces similar to those in the original trilogy of films, where a good portion of Max’s battles took place on foot. Evans is all about showing the realistic effects of violence, and we have no doubt that his take on Mad Max would be the most brutal one yet. And that’s a post-apocalypse worth watching.
While Marshall has already explored his own version of a post-apocalyptic world with 2008’s Doomsday, I doubt many would have much to complain about if he offered up another take on Earth after the end. Superb at staging action and challenging his characters, it’d be a real bloody pleasure to see Marshall put Max through the ringer. Marshall is also an ace at providing us with interesting and complicated female characters, so he could easily find a way to spiritually continue what Miller started with Fury Road.
Fan-favorite director Lexi Alexander needs free reign on a movie. If you thought Furiosa was awesome, just imagine what she or any number of female characters in Mad Max’s world could be under Alexander’s direction. Hell, if Miller doesn’t have time to make a Furiosa and the Wives movie, let Lexi Alexander knock it out of the park. Despite the fact that studio interference prevented Punisher: War Zone from being what it could have been, Alexander displayed a sharp eye for space and how it could be used to enhance action. And as a fighter herself, she could bring an interesting dynamic to Max’s bare-knuckled fight for survival.
While he’s known for gritty crime dramas, David Ayer’s Fury proved he could handle a larger battlefield. Ayer has long proved to be skilled at depicting complex and morally questionable characters. While his films lack the sense of urgent energy as Miller’s, Ayer could provide a film that feels different but is still in tune with the world of Mad Max. Since continuity isn’t a major issue in this franchise, it’d be thrilling to see Ayer return to the time of the first film and further explore the world’s failing system of law and order right before everything turns to shit completely.
Julie Taymor’s work is fascinating, and unfortunately her film work doesn’t get recognized as much as it should. While she hasn’t done action in the same vein as Miller, she’s got one of those madcap minds that could surely make it work spectacularly. Taymor takes risks in both costuming and staging, and you can be certain that her take on the Wasteland would look spectacular. The Mad Max franchise could consider itself lucky to bring her on board.
The prolific Japanese director has produced some of the most stylish and uncompromisingly violent films in the business. While a number of his films aim for discomfort, which may go too far even for the post-apocalypse, he has displayed an ability to turn out crowd pleasing works like 13 Assassins that works on the kind of satisfying level a big-budget sci-fi film needs too. Miike is a dangerous choice to helm a known property, but that danger is pretty exciting to consider.
While the visual elegance of both Tron: Legacy and Oblivion were hampered by some narrative setbacks (more so with the later than the former), Kosinski’s architecture background and musical tastes have given his films traction and made them memorable where they would have been entirely forgotten in lesser hands. With a fully polished script, Kosinski could become one of our best genre filmmakers. While his style is somewhat rigid, he could conceivably do fascinating things with Mad Max, especially in fleshing out this world beyond its barren landscapes. Kosinski has an eye for science-fiction and in an effort to prevent Mad Max from becoming repetitive he could really provide audiences with something refreshing and still stylish.
Miller successfully tried his hand at animation, so there’s no reason why an animator couldn’t successfully conquer the world of live-action. DeBlois has had a long career as an animator for Sullivan Bluth Studios and Walt Disney Studios, but his most impressive work has been directing DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon films. While these kids’ movies are a far cry from the R-rated brutality of Mad Max, DeBlois has staged some of the best action sequences in animation and the Dragon films have consistently topped themselves from scene to scene and film to film. As the screenwriter for both of those films, DeBlois has also shown a maturity and fountain ideas that weren’t previously expected from DreamWorks Animation. Hell, DeBlois is such a creative talent that if he wanted to make an animated Mad Max film, we’d be first in line to buy tickets.
Alright, alright settle down. There’s a reason why we saved him for last. Look, despite his troubled personal past, no one knows the world of Mad Max better than Mel Gibson except for Miller himself. But beyond his inherent familiarity, Gibson is a really strong filmmaker who directed some of the best epics of our time. Just imagine the scale he could bring to the world of Mad Max. He could provide us with an opportunity to see this world like we’ve never seen it before. There’s little doubt that a Gibson helmed Mad Max movie would be a fantastic and a rewarding experience for audiences and the man who was once one of Hollywood’s most beloved stars. If Mad Max is an ongoing tale of redemption, then it’d be fitting to see Gibson work out some sort of redemption for himself through the franchise that made him a star.
Featured Image: Warner Bros. Pictures