When Jon Favreau said he would not be available to direct "The Avengers" for Marvel, he opened the doors for speculation about who would be behind the camera.
Favreau's "Iron Man" breathed life into the current wave of Marvel films culminating in 2012's gigantic crossover event, but someone else will have to step in to bring his storyline together with "The Incredible Hulk," "The First Avenger: Captain America" and "Thor."
Here are five directors who might be able to pull it off and make the "Avengers" movie fans want to see.
Zack Snyder: Was "Watchmen" Snyder's last word in superhero movies? Its box office performance may have made that debatable, but its visual presentation was spectacular. Snyder's name sits on a short list including Brett Ratner and Bryan Singer who have tackled superhero team movies in recent years, and his name comes at the top right now.
If Marvel wants to aim for the bleachers with "The Avengers," he has to be on the table—assuming his "300" sequel comes out in time.
Neill Blomkamp: Blomkamp showed the world what he was capable of with a comparatively frugal budget this year in "District 9." Not only does he now have a high-concept, globally scaled sci-fi/action success story under his belt. He also has a hands-on special effects background including work on "Smallville," "Dark Angel" and ""Stargate SG-1."
If that doesn't look like an aligned set of credits worthy of a breakthrough shot as Marvel's biggest release of decade, they'll have a hard time finding better a better résumé—especially if they want an underdog.
Mark Fergus: Fergus may have an absolute minimum amount of directing experience, but he scripted both "Iron Man" and "Children of Men." His lone directorial effort, "First Snow" starring Guy Pearce, went to festivals and DVD with a moderately enthused reception, but his background of knowledge and understanding for the material could be enough to qualify if someone trusts him enough.
Guy Ritchie: Coming off of "Sherlock Holmes" with Robert Downey Jr., it would be interesting to hear how Ritchie would feel about reuniting with him as Tony Stark. Ritchie's movies like "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" dealt with characters packaged with high-strung attitudes and deep emotional problems, so tackling the Hulk and Iron Man shouldn't be that big of a stretch.
Of course, with "Lobo" in the works, pulling double duty on "The Avengers" and DC's Main Man could be a scheduling conflict—but heck, why not?
Joss Whedon: Whedon specializes in his own projects, but if you look at the field, no director has a better established relationship with both fans and Marvel right now. "Serenity" cemented his cred for sci-fi/action, and his "Astonishing X-Men" work showed his knows how to work in the superhero genre.
No other other announcement would make waves like naming him to the "Avengers" director's chair. In fact, it just might snap the Internet in half.
Who would you like to see direct "The Avengers" if Jon Favreau won't be in the running? Do you like any of the choices above? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!