When Patty Jenkins was hired to replace Michelle MacLaren as the director of the first Wonder Woman movie, most people naturally assumed she was coming in fresh. But the reality is that Jenkins already had a long history with the project, which she details on a recent episode of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. Jenkins’ relationship with Warner Bros. and Wonder Woman dates back to 2007, a few years after releasing her directorial debut, Monster. “Everybody in the industry wanted to hire me,” says Jenkins. “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,” and, she adds, a “mistrust of a different way of doing things and a different point of view.”
After turning Wonder Woman down in 2007 due to her pregnancy, Jenkins returned to the project in 2011, but left following creative differences with the studio, which then hired MacLaren. “Even when I first joined Wonder Woman,” Jenkins recalls, “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.”
When things didn’t work out with MacLaren, either, Warner Bros. returned to Jenkins. “They came back to me a year later and said, ‘Do you want to do it your way?”, she says, “And boom, I just went and made the movie.” Though the end result was a major blockbuster success that helped thick-headed studio execs see that women are biologically capable of directing good movies about superheroes after all, Jenkins indicates there was still a battle with Warner Bros., which had gone through something like 30 scripts by that time. “During that period of time, there were so many scripts—because I could see the writing on the wall,” says Jenkins. “There was an internal war on every level about what Wonder Woman should be.” It seems that a significant change has taken place in Jenkins’ relationship with WB since then: The filmmaker was asked to return for the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, which released in theaters and HBO Max this past Christmas. Despite mixed reviews and Jenkins’ seeming uncertainty in the press about directing a third film, WB officially announced her return within 48 hours of the sequel’s debut.