Patty Jenkins may not be the most critically acclaimed director in Hollywood right now considering the mixed reaction to Wonder Woman 1984, but she worked hard to get here. And the reception to the Wonder Woman sequel aside, Jenkins couldn’t be more on top of the world: Wonder Woman 3 has been greenlit, the filmmaker is set to direct a Star Wars movie, and she’s essentially got a blank check for her next projects. And it’s all thanks to the critical and commercial success of 2017’s Wonder Woman, which Jenkins revealed she had to fight long and hard – for nearly 13 years – to direct.
In a conversation with Marc Maron on his WTF podcast (via The Playlist), Jenkins delved into the “internal war” that she waged with Warner Bros. over the direction of 2017’s Wonder Woman. It’s a war that stretches all the way back to 2004, when she first met with Warner Bros. to make Wonder Woman, following the Oscar success of her critical darling Monster, which left her dead broke and without any viable options for a next project. But Wonder Woman called to her, and she would meet with Warner Bros. every two years, until they finally did hire her…only to not trust in her vision for the movie:
“They wanted to hire me like a beard; they wanted me to walk around on set as a woman, but it was their story and their vision. And my ideas? They didn’t even want to read my script. There was such mistrust of a different way of doing things and a different point of view. So that was definitely happening, even when I first joined Wonder Woman it was like, ‘uhh, yeah, ok, but let’s do it this other way.’ But I was like, ‘Women don’t want to see that. Her being harsh and tough and cutting people’s heads off, that’s not what— I’m a Wonder Woman fan, that’s not what we’re looking for. Still, I could feel that shaky nervousness [on their part] of my point of view.”
There was a back and forth from there, as Warner Bros. brought Jenkins on to make Wonder Woman in 2007, but pregnant and sensing the studio’s apprehension, she turned them down. “They were nervous that it wasn’t viable. They were all freaked out by all the female superhero films that had failed, the smaller ones that had failed, and also Christopher Nolan was making the Dark Knight thing, so I think they were just trying to figure out what they were doing with DC at that time,” Jenkins said.
Then in 2011, she was back on to direct Wonder Woman, before she left over clashes with Warner Bros. over creative direction. Finally, after she boarded and exited Thor: The Dark World, she was approached by Warner Bros. again:
“Finally, the moment came [when Warners wanted me to make the film]. And there was a moment they wanted to make a story that I wasn’t the right person for, so I [left and] said, ‘it can’t be me,’ and they hired someone else for a little bit. I told them what kind of film I wanted to make. I said, ‘I don’t think this is the story you should tell with Wonder Woman,’ and I didn’t want to be the one to get in a fight about it for years.”
The director they hired was Michelle MacLaren (the director of episodes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones), but Warner Bros. parted ways with her too. And it was back to Jenkins, who now had to deal with a studio without a vision for Wonder Woman and “about 30 scripts” floating around. “During that period of time, there were so many scripts, I could see the writing on the wall,” she said. “The was an internal war on every level about what Wonder Woman should be.”
Finally, after 13 years of waging this war, on and off, Jenkins was able to make the film that she wanted. And the rest is box office history.
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