If you're anything like me then you are already sick of the barrage of TV ads, billboards, and promotional campaigns for the summer blockbusters and it isn't even June. But one film I can get behind is Wonder Woman (out this Friday). Yes, I am slightly biased since how often do we get to see a female superhero kicking ass and rescuing a dude (this time the dapper Chris Pine)? Also, unlike most of its fellow summer counterparts (ummm Baywatch?) it is getting universally lauded by the critics (it scored a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.)
And I was even more thrilled when I heard that the woman, Patty Jenkins, behind the film is another version of a rare alien superhero: A female director. According to a recent study from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women filmmakers comprised only 7 percent of directors working on last year’s top 250 domestic-grossing films — compared with 9 percent in 1998. And it's not great for the female characters we are seeing on the screen as we learned yesterday in Cannes judge Jessica Chastain's bold remarks.
This is hugely significant as it is the first live action film about Wonder Woman and the first female-directed movie with a budget of more than US $100 million (it is believed to have cost about $120 million.) It also took Jenkins years to get it made.
She pitched it over a decade and was told "nobody would watch a movie like this".
Jenkins, who also directed Monster, is what the cesspool of summer blockbusters was in desperate need of and it is because she wanted to tell the story of the essence of Wonder Woman. "I always wanted it to stay a very simple origin story,” Jenkins said. “I believe in Wonder Woman and the true spirit of Wonder Woman, and I wanted to tell that story. I didn't want to make her an alt version of Wonder Woman. I think that what Wonder Woman stands for is gorgeous and incredible. And so that was it. That's what I wanted to do.”
It is that compelling storytelling with a mix of blatant fearlessness, thanks to her feminist mom, that makes Jenkins a great director. “It never occurred to me that I couldn’t be a director, that I couldn’t be a successful director. And not a woman director, just a director. And so it’s stunning to me now, [to think]: ‘I’m the first person to do this — how did that happen?’ ”
Photo by Albert L. Ortega / Contributor