Director Lexi Alexander Explains Why She Won’t Direct Wonder Woman
There's an xkcd comic for everything.
Lexi Alexander explained to Fast Company that she wishes Warner Bros.’ eventual Wonder Woman director well, but she wouldn’t swap places with her for reasons that are neatly summed up by this infamous xkcd comic.
From Fast Company:
“Imagine the weight on my shoulders,” she says. “How many male superhero movies fail? So now, we finally get Wonder Woman with a female director, imagine if it fails. And you have no control over marketing, over budget. So without any control, you carry the fucking weight of gender equality for both characters and women directors. No way.”
Alexander would be familiar with the pressure of a superhero adaptation: she’s the only woman in recent memory to have directed a film based on a Marvel or DC character, 2008’s Punisher: War Zone. War Zone was a sequel/reboot plagued by script rewrites, directorial and lead actor shuffles, and eventually a significant budget slashing of $15 million, a move that Alexander attributes to studio nervousness over having the film attached to a female director. Even one with two feature films under her belt, and, as might be considered a bonus for an action director, a background in both Hollywood stuntwork and real life military training, not to mention a world championship win in karate and point fighting.
Alexander is definitionally more aware of the prevailing state of women in Hollywood at the moment, but even I can say that she’s not wrong in her sense of the prevailing understanding of female superheroes. It’s difficult enough to keep reminding people that the highest grossing film of 2013 was an action franchise with a woman in the lead, or that three of the 10 highest grossing films of 2012 were genre films with female leads. I’ve literally had conversations with people on the internet who acknowledged the success of lady-led genre film, but insisted that such success could not translate to female superheroes because… no female superhero film had ever significantly succeeded. Again:
She has heard that the WB is currently in talks with another female director. “If she says yes, everybody will be very happy, including me. Still, I don’t see at this point why anyone would say yes. There is huge pressure … If [a female director] does fail, then all of a sudden it’s ‘all women suck at directing.’” She hopes that when that director is announced, that Warner Bros. will be as transparent about the production process as possible, so “we as a public can judge whether she f**cked up or not.” While that’s a little morbid, I can’t say that I don’t want more clarity on some studio decisions. It would have been great to hear more about exactly why Pixar, a company known for its unfailing dedication to the artistic ideas of its founders no matter how risky from a marketing standpoint, decided to remove Brenda Chapman from Brave, a film that she created from the ground up.
Which is not to say that Alexander thinks the movie won’t succeed, but she’d like to be clear. Since rumors have surfaced that Warner Bros. is specifically looking for a female director for Wonder Woman, she’s been showing up on a lot of listicles from various online outlets. As a director with a healthy social media presence, and a commitment to promoting women in film, she likes to support initiatives like #HireThisWoman. “But by [retweeting lists of potential Wonder Woman directors that include her] it looks like I am actively pursuing this job, and that’s not the case.” At this point Warner Bros. has not reached out to her, and she won’t be encouraging them to do so.
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