And start hiring employees.
This sounds a little odd. Aren't the directors employed by the studio? Of course they are. The distinction I'm making is subtle. There are Directors and directors. See the difference? Okay, probably not. I'm going to explain it the best way I know how, and hopefully explain why some of the Marvel films are going completely off the rails.
Because even though some of the characters are owned by different studios, they're all making the same mistakes.
Exhibit A: Fantastic Four (2015)
The film was released last Friday, and the reviews are universally negative. As of this posting, the rating on Rotten Tomatoes is at 11%. If you haven't seen it, I won't spoil it for you. If you don't mind spoilers, this review by lauralot89 offers a very detailed critique of everything that went wrong within the movie. This card isn't about that. It's about why this keeps happening.
Josh Trank is a talented director.
That's not in dispute. What is in dispute is why this film did not live up to any expectations: his, those of the studio, of those of the audience. Trank's 2012 film Chronicle was well-received. And while it was a low-budget production, other directors with similar backgrounds have managed to transition from that type of film to a big-budget franchise without the same struggles (just this year Colin Trevorrow helped bring Jurassic World to box office success).
Max Landis (almost) gets it.
Landis, the screenwriter for Fantastic Four (2015) pointed out that working with Trank on Chronicle was very different from working on a big-budget superhero film. They were afforded a lot of creative freedom because the stakes weren't as high. The studio had very little to lose in terms of investment, and plenty of indie cred to gain if the film did well. Which it did.
Why couldn't that success be replicated with Fantastic Four?
Obviously I wasn't on set, but this is a cycle that has been repeated over and over. Joss Whedon (who worked for Marvel Studios/Disney on The Avengers and Age of Ultron) cited numerous struggles with the studio as the reason for the somewhat convoluted plot of his most recent work with them. Ava DuVernay cited a lack of creative freedom as the reason she turned down Marvel's Black Panther. Trank and Landis have cited similar problems. So did Alan Taylor (Thor 2: The Dark World). All of them worked on different projects, and in the case of Fantastic Four a different studio, but they said the same thing. Their creative ideas were shut down by the executives in charge.
The issue is not that the directors are untalented.
Or did not work hard enough. Or acted immaturely (some of them did, but that's not the whole of the problem). The problem is that the studio is hiring directors who have very specific creative visions, when the studio really wants a director that is willing to put their name and prestige to a film with a formula that has worked in the past. Essentially, the studio wants to create the same film over and over again (because it works and they know it), but they keep hiring (or trying to hire) people that wish to do the opposite.
I've already talked about why adhering to the Marvel formula is a bad idea. But it's a choice the company has made, and it seems like with the exception of Doctor Strange, they're sticking to it. So instead of hiring Directors, shouldn't they be hiring people that just want to do the work, pay their dues, and collect a paycheck?