Who would have thought news about a superhero film would be this progressive? There is a dearth of strong female characters on film, and a paucity of women directors in Hollywood. Warner Bros. wants to change that, and “is actively seeking a female director to helm its upcoming Wonder Woman film.” Gal Gadot will star as the Amazon princess in the testosterone-filled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, before the character is given her own stand-alone movie.
Forbes notes that Kathryn Bigelow seems to be first choice to helm the Wonder Woman project. “The next worst-kept secret about the studio’s plans was that they looked increasingly likely to seek out a female director to helm the project. The last two days have brought a flurry of speculation, rumors, and reports that Warner will indeed hire a female filmmaker for Wonder Woman, with one particular director being easily the most mentioned — by fans or the press — whenever such discussions arise. Kathryn Bigelow has long been a fan-favorite to take on any Wonder Woman production, and no doubt Warner has kept her in mind and would be quite happy to have Bigelow aboard. She can create remarkable action sequences that retain sense of character and dramatic storytelling, and importantly she could bring a heightened realism to the proceedings that might help keep it grounded despite whatever fantasy elements exist.”
It’s good news that a woman is being considered to direct in a genre seen as the preserve of boys, but is this a bit patronising? Would a female director bring something to a superhero film that a man couldn’t? And should we even ask this question? And why is she only directing the film about a female comic book character? Why not Batman or Superman?
There is a ridiculous number of comic book movies coming our way in the next few years, part of something I have called the Multispandex. Considering the amount of films, that only ONE of them will be directed by a woman doesn’t seem like much of an achievement.
Sony is also considering a female-driven superhero film – a spinoff from Spiderman. Marvel has a script for a Black Widow film ready to go, but has decided to let the boys go first. This seems an odd decision, given that Scarlett Johansson has already played the character FIVE times: there’s definitely an audience for a kick-ass female action hero, and Black Widow is by now a familiar figure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Johansson, of course, is on fire right now, alternating between blockbusters and more serious fare.
Marvel has been turning its properties into gold at the box office for the last few years: if Bigelow (or another woman) is the first female director to direct a female-led superhero film for DC Comics, followed by Sony’s Spiderwoman, Marvel might just find itself playing catch-up, and on the wrong side of a cultural shift.
Wonder Woman will bring her lasso of truth into theaters in June 2017.