Owen Gleiberman
March 09, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

What franchises benefited and suffered from getting new directors?

What franchise most benefited from getting new directorial blood, and which has most suffered from it? — Dave

It proved to be a masterstroke of delegation when George Lucas handed the Star Wars reins to Irvin Kershner, a pre- New Hollywood maverick known for dramas like Loving. Kershner turned out to be a high wizard of fantasy, and The Empire Strikes Back is what many, including me, regard as the most lushly spectacular of all the Star Wars films. Yet changing maestros is a delicate matter, as the ups and downs of the Batman series make clear. The franchise was already growing tired when Tim Burton made Batman Returns. The Joel Schumacher era, while widely derided, produced one good sequel — Batman Forever, with a tersely sexy Val Kilmer — as well as the egregious Batman & Robin. Yet Christopher Nolan, in Batman Begins, then gave us the best Batman since Burton’s original. The point? The blood of a new director is essential — just make sure it’s the right blood type.

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