This weekend’s release of Wonder Woman represents multiple cinematic milestones. It’s the first female-led superhero film in more than a decade, and with Patty Jenkins at the helm, it’s the first to be directed by a woman. Wonder Woman is also the first female superhero to get her own movie in either of the two shared universes from rivals DC and Marvel. Jenkins is just the second female director to make a movie with a budget of more than $100 million, (Kathryn Bigelow, with K-19: The Widowmaker, was first) and she now holds the record for the largest opening of all time for a female director, with an estimated $100.5 million.
DC’s previous films have been subjected to a wide array of criticism, in spite of its defenders. But Wonder Woman, notably, has been greeted with generally positive reviews (and is generally very entertaining, to boot). Considering that those other DC films, such as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, are largely male-dominated, it’s worth noting that DC broke the glass ceiling in its fourth film while Marvel hasn’t done so in 15 films. (If we add Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films, that makes seven for DC, but the gap remains.)
These are all milestones for DC and for Hollywood, but they shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t have taken until 2017 for a major studio to hand over the reins of a big-budget blockbuster to a female director as well as a female star, and DC deserves credit for beating Marvel to the punch.
For all its enjoyable films and characters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is plagued by indecision around its female leads. By the spring of 2019, Marvel will release its first film led by a woman: Captain Marvel, with Oscar winner Brie Larson as the title character. Even so, the movie has two directors: Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Boden and Fleck are talented filmmakers, the team behind Half Nelson and Sugar, yet the optics of Marvel waiting so long to let a woman lead one…
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