Christopher McQuarrie is not only the filmmaker behind films like Mission: Impossible – Fallout, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Jack Reacher, but he’s also a notable “fixer” who’s brought in to punch up, rework, or overhaul screenplays on a number of different films. Much of this work goes uncredited, but suffice it to say McQuarrie has quite a bit of experience not just working on blockbusters, but also fixing many problems that filmmakers encounter when crafting big budget films.
Given this fact and the casting of Henry Cavill in Fallout, many fans of McQuarrie’s work have asked if he’s interested in the superhero genre. There have even been rumors about his involvement with a Green Lantern reboot at Warner Bros., which comes with the requisite rumors of Tom Cruise’s involvement with the same property. So when McQuarrie was gracious enough to take part in a lengthy Q&A following an IMAX screening of Mission: Impossible – Fallout hosted by Collider, moderator and Collider editor-in-chief Steve Weintraub took the opportunity to ask about the filmmaker’s thoughts on the superhero genre.
The conversation began by asking if McQuarrie would be interested in making Man of Steel 2 with Cavill:
“Many, many people have asked, many, many, many times. I had an awesome conversation with Henry Cavill about an awesome version of Superman while we were on set. You’re sitting around of hours, waiting for stuff to be built so I can put Henry in it, and throw him off a cliff, or freeze him to death. And we talked about a really awesome version of Superman.”
When Steve pointed out that many fans want to see a Superman movie starring Henry Cavill where Superman is heroic and optimistic, McQuarrie said that’s the film Cavill wants, but cautioned there are lot of moving parts behind the scenes in making giant superhero movies like this:
“[That’s] the movie Henry wants. There’s a really, really beautiful version of that, and I honestly can’t speak for the people who are responsible for making those decisions, except to say it’s part of a giant corporate mechanism. I’m one guy. I can stand up and turn around, turn my back to you instantly, a giant corporation that’s in the middle of a merger with another giant corporation is an aircraft carrier in a broom closet being asked to turn around. Part of my job, and what’s made my being a director so much more easy in this business, was ultimately coming to terms with the fact that the people that I’m sitting across from have much bigger problems than I do. They just do. And I sympathize with those problems, ’cause before I used to just view them as incredibly obtuse, and they don’t know what movies are about. Of course they do. They all love movies…”
McQuarrie detailed the complexity of the studio system and the giant corporations behind these films, and ultimately said he doesn’t expect Warner Bros. to ask him to make Man of Steel 2:
“So I just sit quietly off to the side, and people say, ‘Hey, would you make Superman?’ And I just keep responding, ‘Well, they know where to find me. They know where to call me,’ but I don’t expect the phone to ring. I don’t expect that to happen.”
In speaking about Man of Steel 2 and the superhero genre in general, McQuarrie confirmed he previously had discussions about Green Lantern, but stressed that he’s not someone who’s intense about comic book fidelity:
“I’ll address the other one, which is Green Lantern. Every couple of months it’s ‘Tom Cruise is in Green Lantern, which means McQuarrie must be directing,’ or ‘McQuarrie is directing Green Lantern, which means Tom Cruise must be in it.’ I had a conversation with the previous regime about Green Lantern. I’m not a comic book guy. I’m a story guy. So I don’t care if it’s Superman, or Green Lantern, or some superhero you’ve never heard of, to me it always comes down to, is there a good story? And can we make a good movie out of it? I don’t really have that kind of… that comic book fan, thing. Which, I think, and I’ll get myself into trouble, I think that’s one of the things that’s kind of crippling those movies, is everybody’s got these moments in a comic book that they want to see put into a movie. That’s not always necessarily the most cinematic thing, or the movie has to jump through hoops to get it. And I watched as other franchise movies try really hard to keep stuff that’s canon, and strangles the movie to death, and I’ve been in meetings where I’m like, ‘Can we just move this?’ ‘No, no, no, don’t move that! Don’t! Seven people saw that in a comic book ten years ago! It’s established! It’s canon!’ And I was like, ‘But the movie sucks. Can we just do it?’ ‘No you can’t!”
Preach, McQuarrie. Preach.
The filmmaker continued, detailing the extent of his involvement in the Green Lantern franchise:
“That’s kind of the world that it’s in, and when I came in on Green Lantern I was like, ‘Here’s how I would do Green Lantern,’ and they were like, ‘Ah, but you know,’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s what I would do,’ and they said, ‘Well, will you direct it?’ And I said, ‘No, ’cause there’s no script.’ And they said, ‘Well you write the script,’ and I said, ‘But I may not be the guy to direct,’ like don’t make it a McQuarrie movie, make it the greatest Green Lantern you can make it. We don’t know what that is tonally. We don’t know what any of that stuff is until we get under the hood, and I may be the worst guy in the world. You may end up with Tim Burton’s Green Lantern, and I don’t have that pride of authorship. I’m not the guy who comes in and goes, ‘It’s mine, from the visionary director.’ Bullshit fuckin’ words. You’re a director! You’re a visionary, that’s your job.