From Musical To Movies: Why Julie Taymor Should Direct Superhero Flicks

With the news this week that Julie Taymor has been replaced as creative force behind cursed Spider-Man musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, many have started to wonder what could be next for the acclaimed musical and movie director. The answer is obvious: Superhero movies.

It’s clear from anyone who knows anything about Turn Off The Dark that Taymor sees something in superheroes – and the comic book medium in general – that few others do. That sounds more sarcastic than it’s intended to, I admit, but even though the images released from Dark – and the reviews from those who’ve seen the previews – look mindboggling to me, I can’t deny that Taymor definitely has a particular vision when it comes to the material that you don’t see in too many places these days.

A large part of the problem with Dark has been that Taymor, in trying to replicate the action and excitement of Spider-Man’s comic book adventures, has been trying to push live action theater to places that it possibly can’t go on a regular, ongoing basis – but imagine that same drive placed into a movie, where special effects can fake everything and make the impossible seem entirely convincing on-screen. With technology to match Taymor’s ambition, who knows what could be possible?

I’m biased, of course; as much as Dark seemed to be doomed from day one, I actually have a soft spot for Taymor’s Beatles musical Across The Universe, and I think it shows that she has a real talent for visual spectacle in cinema. Yes, some of the visual metaphors are clumsy and forced, but there’s an imagination and talent there that can’t be denied. And whatever Taymor would come up with would certainly step outside of the dominant gloomy visual style that superhero movies have displayed since, what, X-Men in the late 1990s? With only the occasional exception, superhero movies all tend to look alike, and that seems ridiculous when you consider the stylistic differences – or even the importance of visuals in general – in superhero comics. Clearly, someone needs to come in and do something new… so why not Taymor?

Of course, maybe the whole Dark experience has put Taymor off superheroes for awhile. I wouldn’t blame her, considering the public humiliation it’s brought. But I also wouldn’t be too surprised if it’s just left her frustrated that she couldn’t bring her vision of superheroes to life properly, and wanting to show the world that it was worthy of all the work, pain and time. Turn Off The Dark may end up going in an entirely different direction, but I hope that someone – probably not Marvel Studios, considering – realizes that she could probably bring a lot to the superhero movie genre if given a chance. Is a Taymor-directed Wonder Woman movie really that horrible a possibility, as much as it seems unlikely?

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Comments

  • http://marvelicioustoys.com Arniec

    Taymor should stay away from superheroes. It’s obvious from seeing Turn Off The Dark that she doesn’t know Spider-Man, doesn’t like Spider-Man, and I’m happy the show is going to someone who does appreciate the character. You can hear our full review at http://marvelicioustoys.com from 3 fans who saw the Broadway show.

  • Anonymous

    I agree- I’m a fan of her films, especially Titus and Frida- and I liked Across the Universe quite a bit as well. The Wonder Woman idea is a good one. I’d like to see her take on non-superhero comics-based concepts, too- she’d be an intriguing choice for a Sandman film (although I’m sure the whole Gaiman Inc. faction has a long line of candidates) or some other Vertigo-ish property.

  • BoyWonder

    Wonder Woman would be boss with Taymor at the helm.

  • Scud

    This guy complains about some of the dumbest things then comes on here and starts going on about a Taymor superhero movies is a good idea? This guy must seriously eat crack for breakfast. Wonder Woman has received enough punches to the gut I don’t think we need Taymor dragging her down a dark alley.

  • SuperRuss21

    ” Is a Taymor-directed Wonder Woman movie really that horrible a possibility, as much as it seems unlikely?” I’d hardly consider that a glowing endorsement…!

  • bungbung

    Have you seen Turn Off the Dark? It’s god-awful from a story perspective. Taymor is simply not good at crafting a story; she also puts minimal importance on it. She would be awful directing superhero films, as they’re all about story.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_POBSM52J6GPEM2RKE4ILSLTCBI Fireball

    From what I’ve read about Turn off the Dark – and bear in mind, I haven’t seen it, but then neither has this writer – the problem is not that she “tried to push theatre into places it can’t go”, but that she turned in a book which was pretentious, bloated and broadly nonsensical, and is too much the “genius” to see that there’s anything wrong with it. And even if we accept what you’re saying here, how does a theatre producer of some years standing not know what does and does not work? Why is this such a mess, considering the talent involved?

    There is something in what you say about the tone of modern superhero movies: they all look and feel alike – drab, scowly, over-worked, over-rendered – and they definitely need an injection of colour, glamour and humour. And I find myself drawn to the idea of a Taymor-directed Wonder Woman, where that heady, slightly absurd mix of action and myth would play out very well. But I’ve not seen much in her canon to support the idea that she can tell a proper story – one with real, compelling characters and a plot which adds up to more than a series of colourful vignettes.

    Across the Universe doesn’t count – it’s rubbish.

  • Blade_runner_1138

    Taymor’s imagination is not in question but it’s her decisions as director and co-writer that are troublesome. She had the main villain Arachne gathering her minions to steal shoes for her for Christ’s sakes. Bono and The Edge wrote a song for it and everything.

  • Raheemfh

    Always thought her visual and thematic sensibilities would work for a Wonder Woman or Thor movie.

  • Jason

    I think Taymor directing a Wonder Woman film would be great–just don’t let her write it.

  • Bill Reed

    I loved Across the Universe– so I’d be for this. But, er, maybe she shouldn’t write the script.

  • The Anti-Bieber!

    ???…..Hahahahaa! WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING?!!!? LOL!
    I talked to a friend who was at a preview of that Spider-man musical and she said “Julie Taymor is the Michael Bay of Broadway!” LMAO!

  • JJ

    Are you aware that Taymor WROTE the very troubled book for this musical as well as serving as the creative director for the much maligned music? She’s creatively making poor decisions and based on the odd choices and additions she’s made to Spidey’s origin she shows a tremendous lack of being able to adapted existing material without adding unneeded/confusing layers. Spidey’s costume comes from a greek mythological character Arachne? She couldn’t use Madame Web somehow instead? Spidey is a wonderful sci-fi origin not a magical mythological one.

    Taymor is a creative wonder but she fumbles when the scope is fully within her realm of responsibility. Let her work on a comic book film as a creative consultant/designer/development lead because directing is not her forte. Not only does Spidey have UNSAFE conditions it has creative flat pieces that don’t add up to a satisfying whole. She was removed because she is NOT well suited for this, not the opposite.

    This logic of her directing superhero flicks is like saying that since Heidi Montag is failed wannabe pop star who excels at being a spotlight junkie that she should star in a movie version of ‘A Star Is Born”. Not being good at something doesn’t mean you’re overly qualified…it means the EXACT opposite.

    Let Taymor work on original pieces or have her work on the costume/set design of broadway version of Inhumans or Thor but keep her away from directing any more superhero efforts.

  • Kelly

    Yeah, I’d say a Taymor-directed Wonder Woman movie is a horrible idea, and hopefully stays out of the realm of possibility. She badly dropped the ball with the most expensive stage production in the history Broadway.

  • Paul

    1. She didn’t respect the original material
    2. She can’t write a story
    3. She can’t control expenses

    That’s why not.

  • Caramind93

    I think something more Sci-fi or out there would provide a better outlet, like the New Gods, ok its a bit of a strench but still

  • Shakespeare’s Scorn

    NOPE

  • Madmike

    Crazier than Charlie Sheen!

  • Thesnappysneezer

    but if she directed a musical film or stage play about Charlie Sheen, starring Charlei Sheen, god what a wonder to behold…

  • mark_S

    I’d like to see her tackle Bomb Queen.

  • voice of reason

    she may have her own skill set of positives/negatives, but on the flip side of the equation hacks like Mark Steven Johnson, Tim Story, Louis Letterier, et al. shouldn’t have even been allowed into the building to interview for possible directing jobs either, so it’s not like guys who have supposedly been interested in “story” and “characters” have been the solution either.

  • Schnitzy

    I don’t know, as someone who is a stage director himself, and aspires to direct films too, I just don’t know. I have to concede that Taymor shows extraordinary visual flair and incredibly ingenuity.

    However, as I am someone who looks at texts or material with the bent of trusting the material and conveying the meaning and intent of an author’s intent BEFORE layering superfluous visuals on top of said material. I have some issues with Taymor.

    Titus was wonderful, but at times style over-road the substance of Shakespeare’s material and characters – and Shakespeare, much like Lee and Ditko – don’t need ‘help’ in creating meaningful characters and situations.

    I am not sure that Taymor ‘trusts’ the material enough, and this is what I see/surmise when I read stuff about TOTD.

    She doesn’t seem to realize that real people, in real situations exhibiting ‘the human condition’ is all the hook that people need, and that if you show and write THAT, then people have no problem suspending their disbelief.

    Put another way: all the faults of Donner’s Superman aside (and let’s be honest, there were some), the reason it has – in spite of those flaws – left such an indelible impression on us some almost 40 years later, is that Reeve gave us a very human interpretation to connect with.

    To keep this to Spider-man: if you show me realistic people in their reactions, cares, concerns and passions, then I will easily suspend my disbelief at the notion that a radio-active spider would give someone super-powers, because I can accept it as merely a gateway device to telling your story.

    Taymor didn’t get this, and I suspect that is because she somehow couldn’t check an aspect of her ego at the door, when dealing with Spider-man.

  • demoncat_4

    i am curious since she seemd to have understood what spider man to see what if given a chance what Taymore could do with a super hero film maybe have a better go then how spider man turn of the dark did. worse she can help marvel get their characters back from fox. by taking her time to do a movie like a broadway musical.

  • Jack R

    Wait.. What? Was this posted just to see if anyone was paying attention? Every inside scoop, every critique or review of this production has said the exact same thing: It doens’t matter how pretty it looks.. ..That the story is unintelligible, that the plot beats are all wrong for a Broadway show, and that it falls underneath the weight of it’s own self indulgence.. In other words, in movie terms, it’s Batman & Robin or Hulk, or even Dune… look no further than box office results to see how well superheroe movies played strictly for style compare against ones that have both style AND a story of substance (Superman, The Dark Knight, Spiderman 1 & 2..) Taymor is a BRILLIANT designer and visionary.. But Lion King was already written.. all she had to do was turn it into performance art. The fact that the last ditch effort to save this production is to hire an actual comic book writer (for only $20,000??) to fix the story should tell you all you need to know about whether Taymor ‘gets’ super heroes.. Maybe the tech issues are actually a mixed blessing to the production because it called out the story in the process.. Maybe they can still pul it off cleaning up the plot.. But Taymor clearly was incapable of doing it herself.. I don’t want her anywhere near a super hero movie unless she’s only serving as the art director for something like Dr. Strange.

    C’mon seriously, you can be honest with us. You really did just write this to generate buzz and hits by being ridiculously contrarian, right? Well done.. lol

  • XK

    I agree… there’s no question that the best thing to do when someone fails to make a broadway superhero production, (and fails in as spectacular and expensive a fashion as seems humanly possible), is to give them the reins to a multi-million dollar superhero movie.

    Brilliant!

  • Joe S. Walker

    If a male director had just been fired after presiding over a spectacularly expensive turkey, would anyone be proposing him for more of the same?

  • MirriMaz

    To echo what lots of people said, Taymor isn’t exactly regarded as some genius when it comes to musicals actually lots of people i know who are into Broadway shows consider her a hack. The whole Dark experience further proves this, she had no regards to the original Spiderman material (which would have been acceptable had the alternatives been any good) and the budget is ridiclous considering how many people out there are dying to get there work out there which is ten times better and would cost a fraction of Turn off the Dark (apparently one of the songs is about Arachane sending her menions to steal shoes for her to dominate the world).

    So please don’t let her near any superhero flicks, lots of them already suffer from style over substance.

  • Guydc3

    I’ll just keep this brief: NO. Keep her away from superhero anything.

  • Bill Reed

    Bizarro sexism? What?

  • The Anti-Bieber!

    Hahahahaa! A train wreck of a train wreck, starring the train wreck himself and directed by another train wreck. That amount of train wreckage alone would put the first trailer for Super 8 to shame. ;)

  • XPrince

    Julie Taymor would rock a Wonder Woman film. It’s really a perfect fit. Also for all you saying she sucks, don’t you guys realize most hollywood, broadway, etc….types really aren’t that good nowadays. But at least she seems to care about her projects. Look if she can make an entertaining Wonder Woman film and bring a little spectacle to an otherwise watered downed, boring character whose yet to reach her potential because DC saves all there best ideas for Superman and Batman, why not let her.

  • Buzzmeeks

    They could give her a Dazzler adaptation.

  • Yanks5179

    It’s not bizarro sexism, because that implies that only men can be sexist. The terms like “reverse racism” are absurd for the same reasons; bizarro sexism is NO sexism, which is what we should be striving for.

  • Joe Ranger

    geeks, geeks and more geeks. Why even bother to write the article? Does the author really, truly believe that any producer would hire her to do a superhero movie, considering that her “vision” of the same is going down as one of the biggest losses in Broadway history?

    Did you pick this assignmnet, based on all the Spider-Man buzz? Or was this given to you? I mean, I can’t think of a more stupid article to write about than whether or not Taymor makes a superhero movie? What’s your next assignment? With Charlie Sheen out of 2 1/2 Men, can he pull off a Marvel movie?

  • Scud

    “Also for all you saying she sucks, don’t you guys realize most hollywood, broadway, etc….types really aren’t that good nowadays. But at least she seems to care about her projects.” So basically you confirm she sucks but because she cares a lot they should let her do whatever she wants? Last time I checked this isn’t preschool its the real world and after this Spider-Man fiasco I don’t think DC would let her anywhere near any of their characters.

  • Fred

    From what I’ve read, she had so much respect for Spider-Man and his comic book legacy that she rewrote canon to create her own origin story for him, complete with a bizarre supervillainess named Arachnia. Give her a superhero movie and she will give you a big-budget turd that makes The Phantom Menace and Hale Berry’s Catwoman look like Citizen Kane.

  • Raja-Man

    I’m actually liking this idea…

  • XPrince

    When did I say she should get a cart blanche to do whatever she wants. Who knows how much money she has invested in Spider-man. If she put in substantial share of her own money in the play she technically has more say in the plays direction. Whether it’s good or bad is a matter of opinion. Besides all the professional critics who’ve seen it and gave it a bad review you have to take what these guys say with a grain of salt. Most critics hate everything. I’ve seen perfectly entertaining movies with flaws and all that critics labeled a steaming pile of turd. They usually have ridiculously high standards or crap on what ever doesn’t fit there sensibilities. I remember when Fight Club came out and it got the worse reviews from critics, yet it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Yet when Benjamin Button (By the same director mind you) came out the critics were raving about it. I thought it was drawn out, boring and a complete waste of time.

    And no I don’t think Julie Taymor sucks at what she does. From the work I’ve seen by her, I think they’ve all been enjoyable and well made. She made movies about subjects and I usually don’t have much interest in and made me interested. I don’t think that would have been the case if she didn’t care about what she was doing, or if she didn’t retain a certain level of creative control. She’s not perfect, yet who is. In regards to my comment about hollywood types aren’t really good nowadays. Creativity in the fields of most entertainment is lacking in this day and age in my opinion. There are plenty of reasons for this, which I wont get into now, but i think one of the main reasons for thin in regards to movies is that movie studios don’t care. Take Mark Steven Johnson for instance. I thought Daredevil was terrible. Yet Marvel allowed him to make Ghost Rider another terrible film. Then DC/WB almost let him do Preacher. I’ve learned that movies need to judged not on relative success of the directors previous endeavor but on what the end product is like. I thought Bryan Singer’s X-Men sucked but loved X2. Superman Returns was boring and a huge commercial failure for the WB. Should Bryan Singer never direct another Superhero movie? No, that would be ridiculous. So why should Julie Taymor be judged so harshly for this particular failure? Give her a shot. Get her a good writer, a good cinematographer let her do her thing. Her record in regards to movies is not bad at all.

  • Me

    “visual style that superhero movies have displayed since, what, X-Men in the late 1990s?”

    At least get the decade right. It was 2000. DUH!!

  • Rjackson

    Really? The woman who created Swiss Miss? A jackknife villian for Spider-man . . .
    She might have a lot of imagination and vision, it’s just a really poor imagination and a muddled, ridiculous vision.

  • Emmabe

    Honestly,

    If she was to tackle a comic project, she should handle David Mack’s Kabuki — particularly one of the later volumes like Alchemy. She’s one of the few people who could make that work on the big screen.

  • Joe S. Walker

    After Jeremiah Chechik’s mangled travesty of The Avengers, nobody proposed him for a movie of The Prisoner, did they?

  • Tyler W

    Julie Taymor shouldn’t work on corporate characters. I think there’s plenty for her to do with original and classic material that will make her artistic sensibilities and audiences happier.