This weekend saw the release of Nicolas Winding Refn‘s The Neon Demon in a limited capacity, and the numbers are not looking very good. Five years after Drive turned out to be a massive critical success and a notable sleeper hit, Refn now has a lot more creative freedom. Following the largely dismissed Only God Forgives and the heavily mixed reaction to The Neon Demon, however, that might not be true in the coming years.
He’s already lined up a French mini-series about an elite police squad as his next project, but beyond that, only rumors and vague expressions of interest have pointed at what the Danish filmmaker’s next feature will be. There was talk of him manning a remake of Maniac Cop, the cult 1980s horror movie, and he’s also attached to an Asian-set thriller written by former James Bond scribes, which would but him in the same wheelhouse as Only God Forgives. And just this week, he expressed interest in a far bigger property, one that happens to be under the DC Comics banner. According to Business Insider, Refn said he’d love to direct a big budget studio movie of any sort, but is especially interested in the story of Barbara Gordon, known by most as Batgirl. Here’s exactly what he said about comic-book adaptations:
“God, I would love to make one, it would probably be great fun…I just don’t know when it’s going to happen. I very much enjoy my freedom creatively, but I also would love to make one of those big Hollywood films that costs a lot of money and has a lot of people running around with cell phones and all that insanity…What ones are left? You know the one I want to do? I want to make Batgirl. Let’s get Warner working on it.”
Mind you, this is not the first comic book movie that Refn has shown interest in. Way back when, around the time Drive came out, there was talk of him being the man behind the camera on Wonder Woman, but that never panned out, obviously. Batgirl is exactly the kind of movie he’d be able to turn into his own movie; it’s a minor enough title that DC and Warner Bros. could give him a little more creative freedom to give the film its own look and feeling. And for those who have seen The Neon Demon, you’ll know that the man has a unique way of highlighting his female leads, giving a brilliant actress like Elle Fanning space to express her character’s inner life without slowing down the film itself. There would also be a need for a happy-ish ending, which would be a nice challenge for Refn, whose cynicism has often been the most irksome part of his films.
But then, as he points out, who knows when a project like this would be in contention, and lord knows if anyone will want to hand him the keys to a franchise after the not-so-great fiscal performances of Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon. I hope someone does, either for Batgirl or another big property, and honestly, Elle Fanning could be great as Gordon, depending on the overall tone of this hugely speculative project.