When Warner Bros. hired TV veteran Michelle MacLaren—who’s helmed some of the best episodes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones over the past few years—to direct Wonder Woman, most were enthused by the prospect of MacLaren finally getting a chance to shine on the big screen. Consequently, there was an overwhelming feeling of disappointment this week when Warner Bros. announced that MacLaren was now leaving the project due to creative differences over the vision for the DC Comics adaptation.
WB didn’t waste any time finding a new director, hiring Monster helmer and one-time Thor 2 director Patty Jenkins to step in, and she’s a promising prospect for the first big screen iteration of the iconic Wonder Woman character. But still, many wondered why MacLaren didn’t work out on the project, seeing as how when she initially signed on, the wording of the press release stated that she would be “developing” and “directing” the film, meaning she’d have a heavy amount of creative input in the crafting of the story.
Per Variety, MacLaren’s vision for Wonder Woman was vastly different than the studio’s. She apparently saw the film as an epic origin tale in the vein of Braveheart, while Warner Bros. wanted “a more character-driven story that was less heavy on action.” Per the report, the studio became “increasingly concerned” about MacLaren helming a large-scale action-filled production despite the fact that she’s shown a mastery of commanding tension in Breaking Bad and dealt with huge, hectic sets on HBO’s Game of Thrones. It’s possible the studio wants to switch up genres a bit after the sure-to-be action-heavy Batman v Superman (David Ayer’s Suicide Squad sounds like more of a “men on a mission” movie), but, if this report is indeed true, the specific mention of concerns over MacLaren’s action capabilities is irksome.
Additionally, Devin over at Badass Digest reports that one of the points of contention over the film was its time period: Zack Snyder (who appears to be the creative director of the DC Universe) wanted a Wonder Woman movie set during the Crimean War, while MacLaren wanted a World War I-set story. Moreover, MacLaren was apparently keen on making Steve Trevor—Wonder Woman’s boyfriend—a damsel in distress character, which is a brilliant subversion of gender roles, though Devin says the that idea went a bit overboard, making Trevor seem incompetent and therefore floundering the central love story.
Essentially it sounds like MacLaren and Warner Bros. had fundamentally different takes on Wonder Woman, so maybe it’s for the best they parted ways. I am, however, a bit distressed to hear that (again, if the report is true) WB felt MacLaren couldn’t handle large-scale action sequences. I’d wager Alan Taylor had the same amount of experience with action before signing on to helm Thor: The Dark World, and why is it that the director of a Sundance indie dramedy can be given the keys to the Jurassic Park franchise without anyone batting an eye, while MacLaren’s limited experience in the realm of action is a problem?
Regardless, Variety says WB moved so quickly to find a new director so that they could keep the film’s 2017 release date intact, so things are no doubt moving full steam ahead on what is expected to be a more character-driven movie now that Jenkins is onboard. Here’s hoping some other studio snaps up MacLaren now that her availability has opened up; she’s long overdue for a feature film debut.