When news broke recently that Oscar winning actress Brie Larson was in talks for the role of Captain Marvel, the folks over at The Hollywood Reporter took the time to reveal two directors in contention to direct the character’s upcoming solo film. Interestingly enough, both women are names that haven’t really been tossed around too much by fans, and are definitely not the names that were rumored over recent months. (If you’ll recall, both Elizabeth Wood and Emily Carmichael were rumored for the gig, as was Angelina Jolie for quite some time.) Per THR, directors Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) and Niki Caro (McFarland, USA) are up for the directing gig. For most, Kent and Caro are not familiar names, but they’ve both built up rather impressive resumes over the years and are sure to continue to see a rise in their popularity over time. (Especially Caro who just wrapped production on a film starring Jessica Chastain.) With that said, I thought we’d take a look at both directors and see why each would be a good fit for the film.
What Makes Jennifer Kent The Right Choice
Unlike Niki Caro, Kent only has one feature film to her name as of now, and that’s the fantastic The Babadook, although she has also directed a television episode, as well as a couple of shorts. And although that may make her seem like a less than ideal to some, you’ll recall that this isn’t an uncommon among directors Marvel has hired in the past – most notably with Jon Watts, who’ll kick off production on Spider-Man: Homecoming later this month in Atlanta. What’s most interesting regarding Kent being in contention for the role is that, like Watts and James Gunn, Kent’s work is a far cry from what one would consider when looking at possible Captain Marvel directors. The Babadook, which Kent not only directed but also wrote, is an atmospheric horror movie that proves she is destined for a long career.
Having previously worked as an actress, Kent knows how to get her actors to perform to her desires. Both Essie Davis (Amelia) and Noah Wiseman (Samuel) shine every moment that they’re on the screen in The Babadook, and while great writing definitely plays a part in that, it’s also a credit to Kent that she knows how to bring out the best in her cast. Since making The Babadook, Kent’s name has been tossed around for numerous projects, but outside of The Nightingale, a film she plans to write and direct, she doesn’t really have anything coming up, which would make it easy enough for her to slide right into Captain Marvel should she be Marvel’s choice. So why does she deserve the chance to tackle such a huge project like Captain Marvel?
Even with only one feature under her, Kent has proven herself to be the type of talent Marvel looks for; not only is she a fantastic director, but she’s also a great screenwriter. If we’re looking at recent hires, such as Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), and Watts (Spider-Man: Homecoming), these are all directors that have experience with both directing and writing screenplays. Kent could prove to be the unique voice Marvel needs to tackle a film as important as Captain Marvel.
What Makes Niki Caro The Right Choice
Should it come down to Jennifer Kent and Caro, however, it’s more than likely that Caro would be the choice.
While I’m admittedly team Kent here, I can’t deny that Niki Caro would still be a fantastic choice should Disney and Marvel decide to give her the ropes to their first female superhero feature. Over the years, Caro has built a rather impressive resume, directing such features as Whale Rider and McFarland, USA – the latter of which was actually a Disney release. And like Kent, she’s a proven writer, having written Whale Rider, as well as the upcoming Callas. So while both Caro and Kent may seem like surprising choices for Marvel to be considering – although nowhere near as surprising as the Russo brothers back in 2013 – it’s hard to deny that they are great contenders for the gig. In fact, both Kent and Caro feel like risks, if that makes any sense, which makes me even more excited at the possibility of either woman landing the gig.
What makes Caro the stronger contender here over Kent is not only her prior relationship with Disney, having directed McFarland, USA for them, but also her ability to deliver emotionally personal films. Now, I should admit here, I’ve only watched McFarland, USA, which was a satisfying film, but going off of the trailers for her other films? It’s hard to ignore the amount of heart she injects into them. Now, once again, while I’d love to see Kent get the gig just because I feel she’d be the more interesting choice, I do believe Caro would nail the gig if it went to her – McFarland, USA is proof enough of that. It’s a perfectly crafted story of teens overcoming hardships to become “heroes” in their own right. Thinking of what she could bring to a film like Captain Marvel definitely excites me.
The Bottom Line
Both Kent and Caro are absolutely excellent choices when it comes down to it. Hiring someone like Kent would be as surprising as hiring Scott Derrickson (Sinister) for Doctor Strange and Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows) for Thor: Ragnarok – her previous work is completely opposite of a film like Captain Marvel, yet I’m sure she’d absolutely nail it if given the chance. Whereas Caro has proven herself more than ready to handle a big budget film along the lines of Captain Marvel. Either choice would be a win for Marvel and a win for fans.