The Facts That Followed A Tweet About ‘Wonder Woman’s’ Director School Moviegoers About Sexism In Hollywood

Women helming big-budget films shouldn't be a "gamble."

In anticipation of Wonder Woman hitting theaters this Friday, The Hollywood Reporter shared a feature article and a semi-controversial tweet about director Patty Jenkins. The story, which tackles the "complex gender politics" behind getting the film made, calls Warner Bros. giving Jenkins the project a "big gamble," which seems based the fact that she is a woman and her only feature-length credit is Monster. Twitter, however, was not going to let this slide and reacted accordingly.


Yes, Wonder Woman is the most expensive movie made by a female — racking up a budget of $150 million. Yes, Jenkins has a relatively small list of credentials in Hollywood — save for the aforementioned 2003 indie that earned Charlize Theron an Oscar. But the studio would have been taking a risk on any director — especially given the receptions of past DC Extended Universe features, which may have made money but let down critics and fans. The real risk here, it could be argued, was even making another DCEU film in the first place.

It took more than 75 years to get Wonder Woman on the big screen and, after that struggle, fanboys and fangirls alike took offense to how Jenkins was seemingly treated in the article and tweet, calling foul and bringing up some valid points:

And that's just a taste of it.

Many were outraged that the article didn't bring up Jenkins's male equivalents — specifically those who have helmed a big-budget superhero flick with a similar street cred to that of Jenkins. There's Josh Trank, who went from directing 2012's Chronicle ($12 million budget) to 2015's Fantastic Four ($120 million budget). There's Jon Watts, who went from directing 2015's Cop Car ($800,000 budget) to this summer's Spider-Man: Homecoming (budget not yet known but will likely be substantial). And there's Marc Webb, who directed 2009's 500 Days of Summer ($7.5 million budget) to directing both 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man ($230 million budget) and 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($200 million budget).

In addition, the article seems to lump a lot of pressure onto Jenkins for both the past of and future for female directors — which Jenkins seems reluctant to take on board half of the world's population "just because I'm a woman." Jenkins adds: "I'm just trying to make the greatest version of Wonder Woman that I can for the people who love the character as much as I do and hope that the movie lives up to all the pressure that's on it."

While the story may have meant well, many felt the way it was executed came off sexist and backward-thinking in the fight women face in Hollywood. One study, which looked at 2016's top 250 films, revealed that they made up just 7 percent of filmmakers that year — down 2 percent from 2015. Another study, which looks at 1,000 films made between 2007 and 2016, finds that women are generally limited to a one-and-done situation when it comes to directing major film releases. A staggering 80 percent only get one chance to impress, while only 14.3 percent get to make two. This is a sharp contrast to the 54.8 percent of male directors who only make one film, and the 22.4 percent who make two. Female directors also experience shorter careers, less diversity in projects, and fewer opportunities overall.

The good news with Jenkins and Wonder Woman is that, even with Warner Bros. taking a "big gamble" and all this pressure to make or break directing for womankind, it's set to be a slam dunk. It has the lovable Gal Gadot as the titular heroine, reviews are outstanding thus far (it sits at 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of publishing this article), and it could score $175 million at the box office by the end of its opening weekend. This all despite facing hiccups, such as canceling the London premiere in the wake of the Manchester tragedy, and Lebanon banning the film due to Gadot hailing from Israel, among other issues.

In addition to that, the future seems a little brighter for female directors of superhero movies as there are already two upcoming films with women behind the camera in the works. The first being 2019's Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson, which will be helmed by directing partners Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. The second, which was very recently announced, is the Spider-Man offshoot Silver & Black, which will be directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood — who is notably a woman of color.

It's time to shift the dialogue and normalize the fact that women can succeed at direct big-budget films. Sometimes all they need is the opportunity to do so.

Cover image via Instagram


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