Patty Jenkins did not want to be a pawn in the studio's game.
It's safe to say Warner Bros. knew they had a veritable gold mine on their hands when comic book movies started becoming popular again. They had Christopher Nolan making the Dark Knight trilogy and a deep vault full of DC Comics properties ready to go. They just needed scripts and directors.
It was 2004 when they first approached director Patty Jenkins and asked if she would be interested in tackling Wonder Woman, and you know the story from there. She said, "No."
Yes, at the beginning of the Jenkins Wonder Woman story, she actually turned the studio down a few times. Left without Jenkins, WB explored other options and had dozens of scripts written.
Still, none of them were able to unify the studio, which was left flailing through the over-development of the property and the inability to decide how to get Wonder Woman onto the big screen. After a failed TV outing, they were lost.
Enter Jenkins again. She was back and ready to direct now. During her recent appearance on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, Jenkins said, "Finally, the moment came [when Warners wanted me to make the film]... And there was a moment they wanted to make a story that I wasn’t the right person for, so I [left and] said, ‘It can’t be me,’ and they hired someone else for a little bit. I told them what kind of film I wanted to make. I said, ‘I don’t think this is the story you should tell with Wonder Woman, and I didn’t want to be the one to get in a fight about it for years.'"
Jenkins wanted control of the project, and she had a vision better than anything the studio had ready. But it wasn't that easy. Jenkins wasn't sure she would actually get to shoot the movie she wanted. In fact, she was worried they were making her a token.
“They wanted to hire me like a beard; they wanted me to walk around on set as a woman, but it was their story and their vision,” Jenkins said. “And my ideas? They didn’t even want to read my script. There was such mistrust of a different way of doing things and a different point of view.”
This is frustrating to hear, and you have to question if they would have treated a man who came in with a clear vision that way. Especially now knowing that WB was behind the end of the movie set-piece, which was the one thing many critics didn't enjoy about the film.
Jenkins continued, “Even when I first joined Wonder Woman it was like, ‘Uhh, yeah, okay, 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.”
Jenkins added, “They were nervous that it wasn’t viable… They were all freaked out by all the female superhero films that had failed, the smaller ones that had failed, and 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.”
According to Jenkins, there was a constant struggle over the movie involving numerous people.
“This was an internal war on every level about what Wonder Woman should be,” she said.
Part of being a director is directing the way things should go... I'm glad she was able to finally get her POV across, because the movie really shined. Obviously, the first movie was one of DC's biggest hits, and the sequel has done well for HBO Max, even if the pandemic hurt the box office.
Suffice it to say, WB eventually came around to Jenkins' vision and bought into her storytelling. She's signed on to direct the third film in the series, though there has been no date set for the release.
Did you listen to Jenkins' appearance on WTF? What did you think?
Let us know in the comments.