With the news that director Michelle MacLaren has chosen to leave Wonder Woman behind, the first female superhero standalone film in a decade appears to be stalled once again. Several attempts over the years have been made in film and television to tell the DC character’s story, but none of them have had the power of the 1970s television series starring Lynda Carter.
In a statement released by Warner Bros. studio, the reason given for MacLaren’s departure is vague at best, and it’s suspected by many sources that there’s more to the story which could come out later.
“Given creative differences, Warner Bros. and Michelle MacLaren have decided not to move forward with plans to develop and direct Wonder Woman together.”
MacLaren has previously worked in television, directing episodes of Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Better Call Saul. She would have been the first female director to take on a superhero movie in the DC or Marvel franchises, and Wonder Woman would have been her first major work in film.
This isn’t the first time a director has left behind the Wonder Woman. Several years ago in 2007, Joss Whedon was a possibility in presenting his take on the DC superheroine but ultimately bowed out. He wrote, “I had a take on the film that, well, nobody liked.”
Recently in an interview with Vulture, Whedon, who directed two Avengers films, spoke about leaving the Marvel universe and creative friction in general, which can also be applied to the DC universe and their interlocking films.
Kyle Buchanan, who interviewed Whedon for Vulture, wrote, “That ongoing shared universe has been the creative masterstroke of Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, but it doesn’t always sit easily with his filmmakers, who are more concerned with making their own movie than integrating someone else’s.”
This desire of filmmakers to make their own movie without their creativity being compromised could be the true reason Michelle MacLaren chose to leave Wonder Woman. Joanna Robinson for Vanity Fair published an article posing the question of whether this news might not be so bad after all, at least for MacLaren.
“Michelle MacLaren–a director known for her distinctive flair–may be well rid of this particular gig… If staying on Wonder Woman meant stifling MacLaren’s creatively, then wouldn’t we rather see her move on? Don’t weep for MacLaren… Weep, maybe, for Wonder Woman. What will become of it now?”
How can the character’s story be told in a way that’s satisfying for comic book fans? The President of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, told the Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that Wonder Woman is a multi-faceted character, thus making it “tricky” to tell her story in the right way, but she is a priority for Warner Bros.
“We have to get her right, we have to. She is such an icon for both genders and all ages and for people who love the original TV show and people who read the comics now… She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes. There are lots of facets to Wonder Woman, and I think the key is, how do you get the right facet for that right medium… She has been, since I started, one of the top three priorities for DC and for Warner Bros. We are still trying right now, but she’s tricky.”
Nelson has shared her vision for more female representation with regard to both characters and creators in bringing DC’s comics to life in film and television. She has also admitted Wonder Woman is her favorite character, stating, “I would be lying if I didn’t admit that Wonder Woman has an affinity for me… She’s an incredibly strong representative woman.”
With the complexity of the character and the creative challenge in folding the story in seamlessly with the other DC films, these are the challenges that must be faced to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. Can it work? Hopefully the right team can come together to give Wonder Woman a solo film worthy of her strength.
Gal Gadot is still set to play the role of Wonder Woman in Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice next year and in the standalone. Wonder Woman is slated for a 2017 release although it’s unknown whether MacLaren’s departure will push back the date.
[Photos by Angela Weiss/Getty Images and via Huffington Post]