Back in November, TV veteran (Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones) Michelle MacLaren got the biggest break of her sweet life when hers was the name that DC’s enchanted hat declared to be the director of the upcoming Wonder Woman film. Here at The Dissolve, we were pretty dang excited about this prospect. After firing up our trusty Speculometron to gain some insight into the project’s future, Kate “The Erbs” Erbland excitedly relayed the confirmation that MacLaren would be in the driver’s seat for this major studio tentpole. A highly visible mainstream superhero flick led by women both in front of and behind the camera—an exciting prospect, to be sure.
All the more disheartening, then, to discover that MacLaren has unceremoniously parted ways with the gestating Wonder Woman film. The Hollywood Reporter noted last night that Warner Bros. and MacLaren did not see eye to eye on some key matters. The article cites creative differences, but with the eternal wisdom of MF DOOM in mind, we may entertain the possibility that Warner and DC basically hated. (And that MacLaren left no jaded witnesses.) In other words, this does not mark the first occasion that a woman slated to direct a superhero feature has been ousted due to friction with the studio. In 2011, Monster director Patty Jenkins was all set to take the director’s chair on the second installment of Marvel Studios’ Thor franchise, then simply titled Thor 2. She and Marvel didn’t get along, and before you can correctly pronounce “Mjolnir,” Alan Taylor had stepped in to take over.
It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that both Jenkins and MacLaren may have been wrong for their respective projects on the basis of directorial vision alone. Even so, it does seem like a glaring coincidence that the only two women to have ever seized the reins of a major superhero blockbuster were removed from their posts. (This nasty business is vaguely reminiscent of a similar incident at Pixar, when the animation titan’s first female helmer Brenda Chapman was taken off of Brave and the full job was given to her co-director Mark Andrews.) The tentative charges of sexism might melt away if Warner were to hire an equally female replacement for MacLaren. Ball’s in your court, Warner.