The future of the James Bond franchise is once again up in the air, as Danny Boyle, who was set to direct the 25th installment, has dropped out due to “creative differences.” The announcement, made by producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and current star Daniel Craig, didn’t offer any more details, which has left the question of who will fill the director’s chair open to speculation.
Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig today announced that due to creative differences Danny Boyle has decided to no longer direct Bond 25. pic.twitter.com/0Thl116eAd— James Bond (@007) August 21, 2018
Over 50-plus years of Bond films, 18 directors (all of them men, all of them white) have sat in the director’s chair, most recently Sam Mendes and Marc Forster. Boyle, an Oscar-winner (for directing Slumdog Millionaire) with a highly recognizable style, would not only have been a big-name addition to that lineage, but also capable of bringing a fresh angle to the Bond film.
However, Boyle’s exit from Bond 25 has a silver lining: It invites another round of the always-entertaining “who should direct James Bond” game, which has been almost as popular a pastime as “who should play James Bond?” For your consideration, we’ve rounded up seven candidates for the job who are well-positioned to bring something fresh to this long-in-the-tooth franchise.
1) James Wan
It’s hard to name a more versatile, more proven director in the industry right now than Wan, James Wan. He’s been the director-of-the-moment for, like, 15 years at this point, since he dropped into our lives with Saw in 2004 and then proceeded to follow that up with The Conjuring, Insidious, and even better installments of Saw. In between turning the horror industry on its head, he hopped over to churn out arguably the best installment of the Fast and Furious franchise, Furious 7, no big deal — and, oh, yeah, he’s just directed Aquaman. He’s definitely got the action movie chops, and the atmospheric chops, to pull off Bond. Hell, he could pull off Bond before lunch and then toss in another groundbreaking horror film by 5. Seriously, just let this dude make all the blockbusters already. —Aja Romano
2) Bong Joon-ho
Though Bong Joon-ho’s signature facility for mixing genres and tones may not seem like an obvious fit for Bond, that awareness is actually what makes Bong perfect for the job. The franchise’s politics haven’t exactly aged well, and in Craig’s outings as 007, a certain willingness to recognize what’s inherently ridiculous about the character has made the films more than just relics of the time in which Bond was originally conceived.
Bong’s films are chock full of that sort of self-awareness, not just on a metatextual level but also when it comes to little details that make his work feel true to life. Take the funeral scene in 2006’s The Host, for instance: though the family’s grief is piercing, there’s also a touch of humor to the way they all fall to the floor together. Or the demented cheerfulness of the classroom car in 2013’s Snowpiercer, which mixes devilish glee with the horror of the train’s totalitarian regime.
He’s also proven to be one of the most compelling action directors around, with a show-stopping chase sequence in 2017’s Okja, as well as a cliffside setpiece that wouldn’t be too out of place in a Bond film if not for the giant super-pig. —Karen Han
3) Ryan Coogler
With the triumph of Black Panther at his back, there’s absolutely zero question that Ryan Coogler could deliver a stunning, sumptuous take on Bond — and it’d probably be a lot more fun than Bond films have been lately. Coogler is an ideal candidate to help deconstruct the patriarchal fantasies of postcolonial escapism that make the Bond movies so simultaneously irresistible and frustrating. But he’s also got the skills to toss in some killer action sequences and dazzling scenery porn, and maybe we’d even get a little gratuitous Michael B. Jordan. There’s no downside here, is what we’re saying. —AR
4) Lesli Linka Glatter
So far, veteran director Lesli Linka Glatter is mainly known for TV. But what a pedigree! She’s directed everything from Twin Peaks to E.R. to True Blood, which are all influences I think we can agree the Bond films need more of. Her first film ever was straight-up nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film, and she’s since been nominated for three Emmys for directing — for one of the most famous Mad Men episodes ever, and for several of the best episodes of Homeland. We have no idea why Hollywood hasn’t called upon her to ascend to the director’s chair of a major film franchise by now. She clearly has the expertise, and she definitely has the range. Let her do Bond; let her do whatever the hell she wants. —AR
5) Tomas Alfredson
The Snowman was a bit of a disaster, but anyone familiar with Tomas Alfredson’s body of work knows that, between Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Let the Right One In, he’s a master at balancing the tension and action that a great spy movie requires. There’s also a moodiness to his style of directing that fits with the slightly darker bent that Craig’s Bond has taken, not to mention his talent for injecting even the grimmest scenes with pathos. Knowing that Bond is human, instead of some unstoppable, mythical force, has become part of the appeal of watching him go globetrotting, and I can think of no one better to pull apart Bond’s heart and psyche than the man responsible for the best and most heartbreaking John le Carré adaptation in recent memory. —KH
6) Karyn Kusama
With Girlfight, Aeon Flux, Jennifer’s Body, and The Invitation, Karyn Kusama has proved that she’s capable of doing just about anything — including directing a James Bond film. Kusama’s eye for action is just as present in the slow-burning The Invitation as it is in Aeon Flux, and her talent for excavating old tropes is on full display in Jennifer’s Body (which, incidentally, is one of the best movies about young women and female friendships to ever grace the screen). If we’re going to get some fresh blood for Bond 25, there are few better choices than Kusama to do the series justice as well as shake it up. —KH
7) Takashi Miike
Can we just take a few seconds to imagine how delightfully unhinged, how purely raw and adrenaline-spiking (and probably deranged) a Bond film through the eyes of Takashi Miike would be? Giving the director of Audition and Ichi the Killer a giant budget and a bunch of really nice guns? Let’s be real, it’d probably be at least a little like doing meth and LSD at the same time. True, Miike doesn’t really do English-language films — so set Bond in Japan, and let’s do this already. —AR