It turns out director Patty Jenkins had to wage her own Wonder Woman-esque battle just to get the movies made the way she wanted to.
On a recent episode of comedian and actor Marc Maron’s podcast, WTF, Jenkins revealed she had to fight Warner Bros. for creative input on the movie, even backing out of the project multiple times.
The studio first approached Jenkins about a possible Wonder Woman movie in 2004, per Indie Wire, when Jenkins was hot off writing and directing the critically-acclaimed Monster. But by the time they asked her to direct, in 2007, she was pregnant and had to decline. She came back on board in 2011, then left again when she and the studio couldn’t agree on a direction for the movie. “Everybody in the industry wanted to hire me,” Jenkins told Maron on his podcast, according to the New York Post. “But I felt like they wanted to hire me like a beard; they wanted me to walk around on set being a woman director—but it was their story and their vision.”
Jenkins revealed on the podcast that Warner Bros. went through 30 versions of a Wonder Woman script over the years and that there was “an internal war on every level about what Wonder Woman should be.”
“They were all freaked out by all the female superhero films that had failed, the smaller ones that had failed,” said Jenkins of the pre-Wonder Woman movie landscape. “Also Christopher Nolan was making the Dark Knight thing, so I think they were just trying to figure out what they were doing with DC at that time.” For context: Catwoman (2004) and Elektra (2005) were both considered box-office disappointments.
Jenkins implied that the studio pushed her Wonder Woman version toward a grittier, Nolan-esque tone, saying, “Even when I first joined Wonder Woman it was like, ‘Uhh, yeah, OK, but let’s do it this other way.’ But I was like, ‘Women don’t want to see that. Her being harsh and tough and cutting people’s heads off … I’m a Wonder Woman fan, that’s not what we’re looking for.’ Still, I could feel that shaky nervousness [on their part] of my point of view.” She chalks the friction up to “mistrust” and “a different way of doing things.”
Eventually, though, after a Wonder Woman movie didn’t work out with a different director, “[the studio] came back to me a year later and said, ‘Do you want to do it your way?’” said Jenkins, “And boom, I just went and made the movie.” All the while she was fighting for creative control, of course, she was also fighting for pay parity, as she told Glamour.
The rest, though, is history! Wonder Woman (2017) was a massive hit, and its recent sequel a much-needed win for the studio amid the pandemic. A third film has been fast-tracked, with Jenkins set to write and direct again (here’s everything we know about it).
May she never have to prove the validity of her vision again. In Patty Jenkins We Trust.