When Will Hollywood Trust Women to Tell Superhero Stories?
Earlier today it was announced that 2019’s Captain Marvel film would be directed by a duo, namely Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Thankfully, the film will be written by two women - Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) and Nicole Perlman, the woefully overlooked co-writer behind Guardians of the Galaxy’s success, who was edged out for the sequel.
While most of the focus has been on what Boden and Fleck can bring to the table, or perhaps some head scratching at the decision by those who haven’t seen Half Nelson, I can’t quite let go of the fact that while women are finally (albeit slowly) being recognized as bankable superheroes, studios still don’t trust women to take full creative control of these stories.
Take DC’s Wonder Woman movie due out in June this year. There’s no question that Gal Gadot’s Diana stole the show in Batman vs. Superman, making her one of the few highlights in an abysmal movie anchored by male characters and Zack Snyder. It was stupendous when Patty Jenkins was actually chosen to direct the Wonder Woman solo film, something I never thought would actually make it onto the big screen considering the infamous history of abandoned projects and DC never quite knowing how to pitch an Amazonian warrior princess to audiences.
But while the news that Jenkins would be the first woman to helm a DC film was breaking, it was also quietly released that three men - Snyder, Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs - would be writing the film’s screenplay. Think about that for a minute, not a single woman would be shaping the character on the page. None of Diana’s writers from the comics, namely Gail Simone, would be helping out here. Should Wonder Woman succeed, it will reinforce the notion that allowing men to control some aspects of the film was a smart move. Should it fail? Take a wild guess who won’t be blamed.
Speaking of Gail Simone, there’s the other character she’s well-known for writing: Barbara Gordon. Just a few weeks back it was announced that Joss Whedon would be writing and directing a solo Batgirl film, which certainly is exciting news and Whedon’s track record isn’t too shabby. Although Avengers: Age of Ultron faltered a bit, The Avengers was great and come on, we’re talking about the man who gave us Buffy! But even still, it seems disappointing that while we get another female superhero, it’s immediately given to a male director rather than allowing women to completely take over the story - especially given the looming spectre of Barbara’s transition into Oracle at the hands of some ugly and senseless violence.
So, while having women write Captain Marvel is huge, it’s still clouded in my view by not just allowing a woman to direct as well. Why are we good enough to only direct or only write but never both? If DC won’t blink at allowing Snyder another chance at directing and writing one of their big titles - despite his less than stellar track record - when the hell will women finally be given the same opportunities for the first time, let alone as a second or third or fourth chance?
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