Marvel-ous Movie Directors

Marvel Studios has notably hired visionary and independent directors to helm their movie franchise rather than established Hollywood action directors, and some credit the approach as one of the secrets of their success. As the series comes to a climax with the release of Avengers: Endgame, let's look at the work that put these directors on the map in the first place.

Known more for Shakespeare than superheroes, Kenneth Branagh brought the first Thor movie to the big screen, and the result was a big box office success. Maybe being fluent in the classics helped shape this story of a hero with roots in Viking mythology? Check out Branagh's Hamlet for an example of his previous work as a director.

Before Marvel tapped him for the first two Iron Man movies, Jon Favreau was known as the writer of the iconic 90s movie Swingers and the director of the quirky Christmas classic Elf. After that, Disney tapped him to direct The Jungle Book - and the much-anticipated forthcoming version of The Lion King. Not exactly a predictable career.

Before the Russo brothers (Anthony and Joe) took on their complex Captain America and Avengers movies like Captain America, the Winter Soldier, they were mostly known for successes in directing TV episodes of shows like Arrested Development. Now, with Endgame, they're steering one the biggest projects in Hollywood history. (It brings to mind the old saying: "Dying is easy; comedy is hard.")

Before directing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies (and managing to pull off a big success with characters most people had never even heard of), James Gunn was known for the low-budget horror-comedy gem Slither

What put director Peyton Reed on the map before Ant-Man was a little film about competitive cheerleading that you may have heard about: Bring It on. (Strange but true: there's a stage musical version of the movie, with lyrics by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda.)

I'm a huge fan of director Taika Waititi, who directed one of the Thor movies (Thor: Ragnarok). Previously he had a track record for quirky and funny indie films like What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire mockumentary. 

And as a warm-up act for making the gargantuan hit Black Panther, Ryan Coogler directed the excellent and acclaimed indie drama Fruitvale Station and went on to the Rocky reboot Creed.

And before their recent success with Captain Marvel (coming soon to DVD), Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck impressed with their indie drama Half Nelson and, a personal favorite of mine, the buddy film Mississippi Grind

All in all, tapping this unlikely team of misfits to band together to save the day was a risky business strategy that paid off big. It also sounds like the plot of one the Avengers movies.