The superhero genre has been going pretty much non-stop since 2000 with X-Men, and yet in all that time, there’s only been one superhero movie directed by a woman (Lexi Alexander for 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, which is an amazing movie). Women typically don’t get the chance to direct blockbuster films in general as they’re stuck in vicious, sexist Catch-22: “We can’t trust a woman to direct a blockbuster feature because she doesn’t have blockbuster feature experience.” Meanwhile, some dude with one Sundance film under his belt is given the keys to a major franchise.
Hopefully, Wonder Woman will change that calculus. It’s one of the biggest movies of the year, and it’s in the hands of director Patty Jenkins, whose sole feature directing credit before Wonder Woman was the Oscar-winning Monster. Since then, she’s done TV work, but hopefully Wonder Woman will be the first of many blockbuster features for her
While we didn’t get to talk to her during filming back in 2016, Warner Bros. brought us back to London to speak to Jenkins last week and see some clips from the movie. Some fellow journalists and I spoke to Jenkins about the expectations that come attached to Wonder Woman, her personal history with the character, how she was inspired by Richard Donner’s Superman, what she thinks makes Wonder Woman unique among superheroes, crafting a tone that’s different than other DC movies, setting the film during World War I, and much more. I’m envious of the reporters that will get to talk to her when the film is finally released, because she is sharp, insightful, and has a clear vision about Wonder Woman.
Check out the full interview below.
Do you think this movie will be received differently now coming into this administration than it would have been otherwise?
PATTY JENKINS: I have no idea. Interestingly, I’ll say this: This has been a contentious issue about this time, to my great surprise, regardless of who had won the election. I was just talking about this issue and I was raised by a strong, very feminist mother, single mother, but for whatever reason I was totally surprised by the reality that it wasn’t over a long time ago. So coming into my career, I was like, “Yeah, whatever,” but it appears there are these issues that have been around for a very long time, and a lot of people are saying, “Actually, not that much has changed for all of us.” So I think it’s a hotbed topic, regardless. What I want to be a part of is the next wave where, “Yes, it’s going to bring up a lot of conversation about it,” but the next wave is where we can just start making universal movies about other kinds of people and not have it be an issue. Just say, “Yes, this is a universal movie about a person wanting to be a hero; this one happens to be a woman.”
And that I think is the real challenge, so I went forward with that attitude. It’s interesting and it ends up being funny because the sexism comes to the fore because she’s walking into 1918 and she’s completely oblivious. She’s like, “This is what you wear into battle, right?” She just keeps being completely confused. She would never know about it. So there ends up being accidental comments about it, but I also went into it not making a movie about a woman at all. I’m making a movie about Wonder Woman, who I love, who to me is one of the great superheroes, so I just treated her like a universal character, and that’s what I think is the next step when I think you can do that more and more and when studios have the confidence to do that more and more.