We live in a world where superhero movies rule the cinematic landscape, where caped crusaders and men of steel dominate the box office and draw swathes of fans into theaters. Even though it’s been around for a good while, the superhero genre is more popular than ever. Only, something’s definitely changed.
Where once superhero movies were generally released as standalone projects, nowadays shared cinematic universes are all the rage. Marvel Studios has one for Iron Man et al, DC has one for Superman, Batman, and co., and 20th Century Fox is developing its own cinematic comic book universe with X-Men and the Fantastic Four. And behind each one of those universes is a brain trust of creatives, a team that decides which way the wind blows on each film.
For those who like their cinema to look like television – more like episodes with a uniform style – this is no bad thing. But for the auteurists out there, the MCU, the DCEU, and whatever Fox is calling its own universe are all contributing to a superhero movie world where singular artistic visions are tempered down, where comic book pictures are handled by a committee overseeing the director.
Thankfully, for those who like their superhero movies made in a singular style and spirit, it’s rumored that Mad Max‘s George Miller will soon get behind the reins of Man of Steel 2, proving that there may still be room for creative autonomy for auteurs on superhero films. To celebrate the news of Miller’s possible hiring, here are seven past examples of auteurs putting their own unique stamp on superhero movies.