Five Reasons Why Rob Marshall Is An Inspired (Or Demented) Choice To Direct ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean 4′

Of all the directors in all of Hollywood, could anyone have predicted that the person who’d end up replacing Gore Verbinski at the wheel of the multi-billion dollar “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise would be the guy who scored an Oscar nod for “Chicago”? You remember, the 2002 musical about those lovely, murderous ladies? The one staring Richard freaking Gere?

Well, according to a report in Variety, that’s what is gonna happen: Rob Marshall is set to assume directing duties for the fourth “Pirates.” Hey, it could be an inspired choice or a demented one—who’s to say at this point? So let’s take a look at some reasons why Marshall’s “Pirates” might rock or why it instead might stink, er, sink.

The Geisha Factor: No one knows in which direction the fourth film will go. But star Johnny Depp has got a nifty idea for his Jack Sparrow character, and it might be a perfect fit for Marshall, whose second film was “Memoirs of a Geisha.”

“It could be anything at this point,” Depp said during a recent press roundtable. “Jack Sparrow could be in some kind of geisha clothing.”

Rob, are ya listening?

Sing Us A Song: Every once in a while, Jack or another character, adrift on land or sea, likes to break into song: “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” or something a little less of an arrrr-ye-mateys cliché. And—come on—that theme song is all sorts of awesome. So does Marshall’s talent for seamlessly integrating music into a film qualify him to handle the franchise? Nope. But it sure doesn’t hurt.

We’ve Been There Before: “Chicago” is based on a musical from the ‘70s. “Geisha” is based on a best-selling 1997 novel by Arthur Golden. Marshall seems to have no problem picking up someone else’s work and, at the very least, not screwing it up. Has he ever stepped into a franchise that has grossed $2.6 billion over three movies? No, but how many folks out there have?

Action? What Action?: This is where we get worried. Can Marshall guide the sword fights, the ship-vs.-ship battles, the explosions—all that freaking action that made the three “Pirate” films so much fun? This will be the big question for franchise fans. The answer won’t arrive until the movie does.

Character, Character, Character: Marshall may not have already displayed his Verbinski-esque facility with action, but any director worth his folding chair will tell you that story and action don’t mean a thing if the audience doesn’t care about the characters swinging from ropes, dodging fiery cannon balls and otherwise risking life and limb on the high seas. In “Chicago,” Marshall made clear that he can make us worry about and root for murders and an amoral lawyer. A dreadlocked pirate and his adversaries shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge.

What do you think about the directing choice? Is there another director you would like to see take over for Verbinski?