In addition to directing Charlize Theron to Oscar glory with the Aileen Wuornos biopic Monster, Patty Jenkins is the woman behind this summer's biggest superhero blockbuster, Wonder Woman. Movie buffs may recall that she was once involved with a different comic book favorite: Thor.
Jenkins was originally attached to direct Thor: The Dark World, the 2013 sequel to 2011's Thor, which stars Chris Hemsworth. She pulled out of the project in late 2011, however, and Alan Taylor (a director best known for working on TV shows like The Sopranos and Mad Men) ended up taking over.
What happened? While Jenkins didn't specifically call out the Marvel movie, her comments to The Hollywood Reporter about the double standard for female directors are pretty telling.
"There have been things that have crossed my path that seemed like troubled projects," said Jenkins told writer Tatiana Siegel. "And I thought, 'If I take this, it'll be a big disservice to women. If I take this knowing it's going to be trouble and then it looks like it was me, that's going to be a problem. If they do it with a man, it will just be yet another mistake that the studio made. But with me, it's going to look like I dropped the ball, and it's going to send a very bad message.' So I've been very careful about what I take for that reason."
At the risk of pitting Diana Prince against a Norse god — now there's a showdown we'd like to see — it sounds like leaving was a smart choice for Jenkins. Thor: The Dark World has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 66%, compared to a certified-fresh score of 94% for Wonder Woman.
It's a shame, though, that female directors (and actresses, producers, etc., for that matter) aren't given the same second chances their male counterparts are. Male directors helm a flop, and are rewarded with more projects; consider David Ayers, whose critically panned but profitable Suicide Squad is getting a sequel with him once again in the director's chair.
Compare that to Catherine Hardwicke, who had the highest-grossing opening for a female director when Twilight was released in 2008. The success, however, didn't pay off. Fast-forward almost a decade later, and Hardwicke hasn't made a feature film since 2015.
“I heard about what happened when male directors had a huge hit,” she told IndieWire in 2015. “I thought I would get a car or a three-picture deal. But I got no calls.”
All the more reason to buy a ticket to Wonder Woman this weekend — and to lobby Warner Bros. to keep Jenkins on board for a sequel.
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