It’s been an unbelievably long wait to see Wonder Woman in live action on the big screen, but if director Patty Jenkins had her way, we might have gotten there a lot sooner. Jenkins recently talked about why she wanted to tackle the story of the Amazon princess and which parts of that story were most important to her.
I met with Warner Bros. right after I made Monster [her only previous feature, the indie hit] more than 10 years ago, and I said, “I want to make Wonder Woman.” I’ve always been moved by the idea of movies that are personal but still have a huge reach. Superman had that effect on me when I was a kid — it rocked my world. That kind of movie was always the brass ring of what I wanted to do with my career.
Monster hit theaters in 2003 and Warner Bros. had been considering a Wonder Woman film for even longer than that. While we can’t imagine what kind of movie we potentially could have seen back then, before our major swell of superhero films, I can’t help but feel this was a missed opportunity. Not just to get Wonder Woman on the big screen sooner but to give a female director a huge opportunity she was actively campaigning for. A supposed lack of interest is one of the excuses thrown out when speaking about the imbalance.
I wrote recently on Disney’s situation with their directors, particularly as it pertains to the Marvel and Star Wars films. Men are given the chance to work on a blockbuster despite having very small resumés and the same opportunities aren’t afforded to women. Jenkins’ Monster was a huge critical success, and it got extra coverage thanks to Charlize Theron winning the Oscar. She had a meeting with Warner Bros., and that’s great, but the fact that studios weren’t flocking to work with her is just another sad story to add to the pile.
Jenkins went on to do a lot of TV work, including The Killing, and I was happy to see her pick up the Wonder Woman gig after Michelle McLaren exited. Gadot previously remarked upon working with the director compared to the men she’s worked with in the past and said she thought only a woman would have been able to tell Diana’s story the right way. “Working with a woman is a different experience,” she said. “It feels like the communication is different.”
Jenkins told THR that she’s often asked about the pressure of being a “female director.” She said, “It’s important but there’s really nothing you can do about it. Every step of my career has been that way — every project is something no one has done before, male or female, the pressure is always high, and I’m always doing it as a woman, so I think you just have to learn to mute it out and just be a great director and give everything you can.”
Regardless of the road she took to get here, Jenkins is finally getting to fulfill a dream by bringing Wonder Woman to the screen. She said it’s important for them to honor the character’s legacy and make sure she comes across as “vulnerable, loving and warm.”
“Wonder Woman is the grand universal female hero who didn’t have to be lesser in any way. She wasn’t less powerful, she wasn’t less of a woman. She’s as beautiful as any woman and as strong as any man,” she said. “That, to me, is so enduring. There have been so few female characters like that — who weren’t small, niche characters or sidekicks. She’s a full-blown superhero who lives up to all of your dreams in every way.”