A couple weekends back, Guy Ritchie managed to have his first $100 million opener thanks to the Disney musical-fantasy epic Aladdin, and it’s currently on its way to match the original animated movie’s $200 million gross. Maybe that’s not quite on par with some of Disney’s biggest openers, but it’s pretty good for a Memorial Day weekend release with mixed reviews.
This is Ritchie’s first real hit in some time, since 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and it’s a movie that seems so out of his wheelhouse – it’s a fantasy musical for family audiences – that studios would be wise to start considering him for other things.
Let’s start with a few reasons why…
Ritchie Can Handle Large-Scale CG Movies
This is very clear from Aladdin, but also from his Sherlock Holmes movies which combined real locations with sound-stages and glorious CG-enhanced locations. The latter recreated Victorian London on a massive scale while the city of Agrabah in Aladdin is a similar achievement in production design and CG FX. When you consider those two movies alone, the idea of having Ritchie doing something even more CG intensive – if that’s even possible – would make him a good candidate for a comic book movie.
Ritchie Has Strong Writing Chops
As proven throughout his career, Ritchie is a really innovative writer, from the way he reinvented the British crime genre in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch to the way he did for Sherlock Holmes when teamed with Robert Downey Jr. (a fantastic writer in his own right). Almost anyone you talk to in Hollywood will agree that a movie is nothing without a good script, and whether Ritchie is originating material with his own screenplay (which he hasn’t been doing much of in recent years) or touching up a script he’ll direct (ala Aladdin), he continually proves that he’s a strong writer with a good sense for pacing and tone.
This also ties into my next point…
Ritchie Has a Great Sense of Humor
From the inherent humor in his earliest films, to the humor he brought to more recent films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E.and Aladdin, Ritchie clearly has no intention to make dark and grim movies but knows that most people go to the movies to be entertained and have fun. Maybe some of his sense of humor hasn’t connected or gone over the head of American audiences, but Ritchie has never been in the Zack Snyder camp where everything has to be grim and serious. That’s important because it’s been proven countless times now
He Knows How to Direct Exciting Action Scenes
Again, something that’s been proven even with his earlier independent films and then carried through to Sherlock Holmes and his subsequent movies, Ritchie has a unique style of directing action that sets his film apart from the heightened action of something like the Fast and the Furious or John Wick movies.
He Clearly Has an Affinity for Comic Book Properties
Although Ritchie has yet to direct a comic book movie, he’s been involved with the development of at least two movies based on comic books: Sgt. Rock and Lobo. Neither of those have happened, and there’s a good chance they never will, but the fact that he’s had interest in making movies based on comic properties means he’s not completely averse to the idea of making one.
He Has Good Relations with Multiple Studios
Doing so well with Aladdin will certainly help Disney look at who to possibly direct future movies, as they’ve constantly proven to be loyal to directors who have given them hits; see Jon Favreau as an example of this. Ritchie has had a long-time collaboration with Warner Bros: from his film Rocknrolla through his failed King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Their relationship was mostly formed through producer Joel Silver who had a production company under Warner Bros, but Warners was happy enough with the success of Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes that a third movie is in some phase of development. Ritchie also has relations with Universal and Sony from his earliest films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, so if he were to take meetings with some of those studios, surely they’ll have some comic book adaptations that might benefit from the Ritchie touch.
There are a lot of options of comic books that Ritchie can adapt, not just superhero movies, so let’s look at a few of the ideas I came up with.
Green Lantern Corps
Ritchie has already proven that he can work well with a diverse ensemble of actors going all the way back to Lock, Stock and going right through Aladdin, a movie with a mostly black and brown cast. Green Lantern Corps takes the idea of diversity to a whole new level as the intergalactic peace-keeping force is made up of aliens of all breeds, shapes and sizes. You add to that Ritchie’s knack for humor and large CG worlds, and this could be the perfect playground for him to show what he can do with a group of superheroes that will have the onus of Ryan Reynolds’ 2011 movie hanging over it even eight years later. Another great indicator of how Ritchie should be able to nail this is if you consider the great hyper-real CG characters in Aladdin from Abu to Princess Jasmine’s tiger and the parrot Iago, all of whom were able to show off tons of emotions and personality without seeming cartoonish. Now imagine that tactic put towards some of the aliens in the Green Lantern Corps.
This one might not be so obvious unless you’ve already seen Aladdin and you already know how well Ritchie handles the world-creating needed for a fantasy film, even one set in the ancient Middle East such as Aladdin. While Neil Gaiman’s Sandman had a number of excellent straight fantasy stories as well as a few influenced by One Thousand and One Nights, the very nature of The Dreaming involves a bit of creativity in terms of production design in a way similar to Aladdin, mixing real places with those that are more fantastical. Who knows if this movie will even happen at this point, as the last writer Eric Heisserer pretty much gave up after turning in his draft, claiming that it should be a television series ala Preacher and other comics that have been adapted for the screen.
How’s this for thinking outside the box? There hasn’t been word of another solo Hulk movie for some time, but the popularity of Mark Ruffalo as the character in Thor: Ragnarok and the Avengers movies would make it a wise move for Marvel and Universal to figure out a way to give The Hulk his own movie. I don’t know why, but I think a Guy Ritchie Hulk movie might be fun. Ritchie already has an in with Disney, plus he’s made a few movies with Marvel’s wunderkind Robert Downey Jr, so maybe the actor would recommend him for a directing gig.
One movie I personally would like to see is a movie based on Donny Cates’ Image mini-series about the sword of the Gods and a battle by various factions to get their hands on it. The property requires a filmmaker with the ability to create a movie with a large scale and vision, but also includes quite a bit of smaller humor. The only thing that might not make Ritchie right for this one is that it’s set entirely in the American South, and I’m not convinced Ritchie has ever been to America outside New York or L.A. I just want to see this turned into a movie, so sue me.
Aladdin shows off Ritchie’s ability to work with younger and more diverse talent, and you can’t get more diverse than the group of misfits in the Jim Shooter-created Valiant superteam who generally has been kept alive in various formats by the current Valiant Comics incarnation. Sony has this one on their slate though they might wait to see how Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot movie works out before pursuing this. If you haven’t read the comics, it’s probably the closest a comic has come to exploring what a real-world X-men might look like.
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
Only just recently, it was announced that Matt Rosenberg is writing a screenplay based on his Black Mask mini-series. While Ritchie hasn’t worked with kids per se, this seems like a good way for him to explore a crime movie from a different perspective. The fact that he has five kids himself, three of them between five and eight, makes me think that if he really wanted to write or direct something involving them, he’ll have plenty of experience in knowing how they think.
One of Mark Millar’s Many Comics
Although Mark Millar’s MillarWorld was bought by Netflix over 18 months ago, there’s still a lot of Millar comics that have yet to be touched or adapted. While Ritchie’s long-time friend and former producer Matthew Vaughn has generally overseen Millar adaptations like Kick-Ass and Kingsman, Netflix might see Ritchie as a possible big-name director to help make one of their properties a reality. The odds of this one are probably less likely, though, because so far, Netflix hasn’t announced any MillarWorld movies.
Of course, there are many other comics and graphic novels out there, including many not involving superheroes, that could benefit from the “Guy Ritchie touch”, but the above are just a few ideas or suggestions.
Currently, Ritchie is finishing up his next ensemble crime-comedy The Gentlemen, which will be released by STXfilms sometime in 2020. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant and Henry Golding. In other words, it’s another (mostly) British ensemble crime-comedy in the vein of Ritchie’s earlier work.
Ritchie is also attached to two projects, one called Judgment Day, written by Matias Caruso, which is described as “an action thriller set at the end of days,” and Thomas Kelly’s Empire Rising. The tagline for the latter (according to IMDB.com) is “a construction worker on New York’s Empire State Building during the early 1930s gets caught up in a gun smuggling ring for the IRA and a love triangle with a beautiful artist.” Both of these definitely sound right up Ritchie’s alley, although neither has reported any progress.
Presumably, Ritchie will jump onto one of the two movies above, but now would be a good time for him to go around the studios and see what they have, since the success of Aladdin over the past couple weekends will help put him back on the radars of studio execs.
Let us know in the comments what you think!.
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.