David S. Goyer, Hollywood’s Placeholder Director

With ‘Masters of the Universe,’ Goyer continues his streak of being named to projects that may not see the light of day.
Davinci's Demons
By  · Published on December 1st, 2017

With ‘Masters of the Universe,’ Goyer continues his streak of being named to projects that may not see the light of day.

Pour one out for poor McG. After spending years developing Sony’s Masters of the Universe adaptation, the director has been cast aside in favor of Hollywood’s premiere screenwriter and almost-director, David S. Goyer. Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Goyer would be directing the movie from his most recent draft; while this may seem like an odd choice for fans familiar with Goyer’s no-nonsense superhero adaptations, it is very in keeping with Goyer’s own history in Hollywood. Goyer may have a long career as a screenwriter under his belt, but when it comes to directing, Goyer is Hollywood’s favorite placeholder filmmaker.

In Goyer’s 27 years in Hollywood, Goyer has directed exactly four films, none of which can exactly be described as runaway successes. Excluding Zig Zag, his 2002 directorial debut that made an estimated $2,400 dollars in theaters, Goyer’s tenure as a director can be described at best as a financial net-zero: Blade: TrinityThe Invisible, and The Unborn cost a collective $111 million to produce with a return of only about $115.5 million. What’s more, the films were lambasted by critics as well, coming in at 25%, 20%, and 10% on RottenTomatoes, respectively. These negative scores actually extend into his writing career as well; outside of Goyer’s work on Nolan’s Batman films, Goyer’s filmography reads like a listicle ‘celebrating’ some of the more underwhelming science fiction and superhero adaptations of the past two decades.

Despite that ocean of mediocrity, Goyer has always been a popular name in the trades. What follows is just a brief history of Goyer’s rumored big-budget directing projects, none of which have actually seen the light of day:

What can we learn from all of this? Read between the lines a little and a trend here becomes pretty clear: Goyer is hired to write a high-profile script for a major studio and, perhaps owing to his non-zero body of directorial work, he immediately becomes one of the frontrunners to direct his own adaptation. With this in mind, Masters of the Universe seems almost like the perfect Goyer project. It’s big enough to make headlines, small enough to justify a non-established name as a filmmaker, and questionable enough that we may be wondering what happened to it in 2-3 years’ time. If Masters of the Universe actually happens, Goyer will have his first directing credit in a decade, a big reminder to Hollywood that he’s in-demand as more than just a screenwriter and script doctor.

And if the film disappears into development hell? Well, it’s like Sony didn’t let us know this was a possibility. They gave us all the clues.

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Matthew Monagle is an Austin-based film and culture critic. His work has appeared in a true hodgepodge of regional and national film publications. He is also the editor and co-founder of Certified Forgotten, an independent horror publication. Follow him on Twitter at @labsplice. (He/Him)