Female directors: Hollywood’s hiring decisions

In the wake of this week’s news about Ava DuVernay being in talks to direct Marvel’s Black Panther movie, rumors about Angelina Jolie set to direct Captain Marvel, and Patty Jenkins already in charge of Wonder Woman, I question the nature of these negotiations, and I also challenge you to think about it.

Superhero movies represent now a whole generation of film, where every actor is seeking a spot in. And I can understand the desire from studios to include diverse characters as well as actors in their movies, as they know that audience demographics aren’t homogeneous. Nowadays, it seems like Marvel and DC — with their associated studios — are racing to be the best, but are they actually looking for the best director to shape a successful movie or are they more interested in what image they will be projecting? Furthermore, how much are these hiring decisions really about capitalizing on feminism/pro-racial diversity, about being politically correct? Because let’s face it, how much power do directors have anymore in Marvel or DC movies? Ask Joss Whedon and Edgar Wright.
Patty Jenkins was in talks to direct Thor: The Dark World in 2013 and dropped out because of “creative differences”. A ton of other female directors were considered along with her to direct Wonder Woman. Warner Bros. and DC‘s first option, Michelle MacLaren, dropped out due to “creative differences”. Notice a pattern?

I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that these talented women are being considered to direct movies that have an assured amount of audience before they even come out in theaters, but should we accept that Hollywood studios might not be hiring female directors for the right reasons, if not only to save themselves the criticism or just to win points over the rival studio for the heck of it? I don’t think so. Publicity and reputation are important, but I want these women to be recognized for being great at their job, which they are, instead of for what they are. And with that, I don’t want to belittle the importance of a black woman directing a superhero movie, because I realize that that’s even more of a big deal in Hollywood.

Now, Kevin Feige (of course you know him as head of Marvel Studios) puts me at ease with these words from a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter: “We need to find the best director for any given movie, and that’s really where we always start. If diversity is part of that, it’s great. It’s important.” And he also suggests that perhaps that Angelina Jolie rumor is close to being true, at least in the sense of a woman directing Captain Marvel: “I think it will happen sooner rather than later, without giving too much away.”

I applaud that vision.

My point is: are any female directors considered to be given the opportunity to direct movies with male superheroes (even ensemble), like Thor, Batman, Avengers, etc. because they could be the best option? And how much does it matter to hire the best one in the grand scheme of things when studios have the last word?

I’d like to see what you think. Comment down below!

Elisabeth S. Contreras
Elisabeth S. Contreras
Film enthusiast and sharer of words. Don't underestimate a woman with an opinion.