Superhero films are currently Hollywood’s bread and butter, amassing profits in the billions and serving as tentpoles for entire years’ worth of productions. Until now, they have always been a male-centric enterprise, but the game is about to change with Wonder Woman.
Warner Brothers recently wrapped principal photography on the Wonder Woman solo film, starring Gal Godot and directed by award-winning filmmaker Patty Jenkins. At a glance, it seems like a no-brainer that Wonder Woman would be next up on the slate of DC Cinematic Universe films, with a solo Superman film and a team-up film in Batman V Superman already under their proverbial belt. In a very real sense, the film faced major indstitutional challenges in the production and pre-production processes, strictly by virtue of its cast. Given Wonder Woman’s place in the history of American feminism, it was also highly unlikely that female audiences would respond well to male control of the film, something which undoubtedly contributed to the studios choice to go with Jenkin as director.
What’s remarkable about Wonder Woman in a broader sense is its place in Hollywood history. Women still make up an incredibly minute percentage of both lead actors and directors, not to mention crew and writers. The selection of Jenkins as the captain of the ship marks a major paradigm shift for women in the industry.
At a recent Q&A at the Athena Film Festival, the festival’s artistic director, Melissa Silverstein, discussed the importance of the film in an environment where women are largely still second-class citizens in the Hollywood production process.
“We have our first female superhero movie coming out 2017, Wonder Woman. So I’m excited for that. Its the first movie that a woman has directed, a live action movie, with a $100 million budget.”
With fans of the genre having clamored for years for a female-led superhero film, Wonder Woman has the opportunity to redefine the genre for female audiences, both by virtue of its star and in that it represents a major step up for female creators in the film industry.