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Directors who turned down big-budget blockbusters


Nolan Moore @NforNolan
Imagine you're a successful director, and every day, you're getting job offers from major studios. Do you want to work on the latest Marvel film? Should you join forces with Lucasfilm for their upcoming Star Wars spinoff? Or should you focus on something that's a little more personal?

With all these pitches coming their way, it's easy to see why filmmakers are forced to turn down big-budget blockbusters. From films about masked vigilantes to tales of British super spies, here are a few major movies that could have been—but weren't—made by some of the most talented directors in the business.

Darren Aronofsky
Since 2000, Wolverine has appeared in a staggering eight films (not counting his First Class cameo). Each time, this sideburned superhero has been portrayed by Hugh Jackman, but while the star remains the same, a string of directors have all taken a crack at the character. Bryan Singer, Brett Ratner, Gavin Hood, and James Mangold have all had their turn at the helm, but if life had worked out differently, the Wolverine would've joined forces with Darren Aronofsky.

While he's only directed a handful of films, Aronofsky's resume is pretty diverse, ranging from a black-and-white indie thriller to a big-budget Biblical epic. Along the way, he also directed two films for Fox: The Wrestler and Black Swan. Both did well at the box office, garnered critical praise, and were honored during award season. Properly impressed with Aronofsky's game, the Fox executives offered the director a chance to helm their latest X-Men movie, The Wolverine.

Sadly, Aronofsky had a lot going on in his personal life at the time. He'd recently broken up with actress Rachel Weisz, and things were made more complicated by the fact that the two had a young son. On top of all that, The Wolverine was going to be filmed almost exclusively in Japan, and Aronofsky didn't want to spend that much time out of the country with all the drama going on back home. As he explained on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, "It was a hard time in my life. It was complicated. I couldn't leave New York for that long."

With everything going on, Aronofsky was forced to pull out, leaving Mangold to take the wheel. But in the end, it kind of worked out for everyone. The decision allowed Aronofsky to work on Noah, and it ended up leading Mangold to the opportunity to direct Logan, possibly the most anticipated X-Men film of all time.

David Fincher
Think of Peter Parker, and you picture a wisecracking webslinger, ready to take on bad guys with the flick of his wrist and a quippy one-liner. Think of David Fincher and…well…he's a bit different than your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. The director of films like Seven, Fight Club, and Zodiac, Fincher isn't exactly known for the upbeat atmosphere generally associated with Marvel movies. His films are colder, more clinical, and kind of Kubrickian.

So it's a bit shocking that Sony offered Fincher a chance to direct 2002's Spider-Man. In an interview with io9, Fincher admitted if he'd taken the job, his take would've been very different from the Tobey Maguire movie we all know and love. As the filmmaker put it, "My impression of what Spider-Man could be is very different from what Sam [Raimi] did or what Sam wanted to do." According to Fincher, he wasn't interested in making an origin story, as he just "couldn't get past a guy getting bit by a red and blue spider." Instead, he envisioned the movie having an opening montage showing how Peter became a superhero, lost Uncle Ben, and "settled into being a freak."

After the intro, the film would've focused on the Green Goblin murdering Gwen Stacy, a storyline that didn't show up onscreen until 2014. Of course, we never got to see Fincher's gritty flick because, after meeting with studio executives, he "easily got [himself] out of that one." Ultimately, he wasn't really interested in making a superhero movie, which makes it all the more surprising that he was allegedly considered to direct the 2012 reboot.

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