Female superheroes have long been used as supporting characters in their male counterpart’s starring roles, until DC’s hit “Wonder Woman” hit the screen this summer. The film is a box office smash, earning more than $100 million domestically in its first weekend, breaking the record for a female-directed movie.
A trifecta of female directors — Patty Jenkins, Michelle MacLaren and Lexi Alexander — directed this hit in various European locations. The role of Wonder Woman was given to the glorious Gal Gadot before Patty Jenkins, the lead director of this film, joined the project. According to Forbes, Jenkins “wanted her [Wonder Woman] to be everything she wanted to be — beautiful, kind, loving, but also bad ass, strong and amazing.” Wonder Woman has inspired young girls and women around the world.
Jenkins and her crew of female directors are an abnormality in the movie world, especially in the world of superhero films. And although this is perhaps her biggest film, It’s not her first blockbuster. Jenkins wrote and directed the 2003 hit “Monster,” which has a 4/4 review from the late film critic Roger Ebert.
This also isn’t her first foray into the girl power films, as seen in her 2011 film “Five,” a female-directed film on the impact of breast cancer. In an interview with Forbes, Jenkins said, “I definitely think there is a missing feminine voice in Hollywood in the first place,” and “Wonder Woman” is here to be that voice.
Since the dawn of Hollywood, men have always been in the driver’s seat when it comes to directing and producing blockbusters. “I’ve definitely experienced the old boy’s network, the fact that the industry has been seriously dominated by men,” said Sheri Mann Stewart, a self-described “film swiss army knife” and now “Momager” for her sons, who are actors*. She’s been in the industry since a young child actress and can list a book full of challenges women have.
Making the decisions to have children was a big challenge, Mann said. “Men get paid more and we made the decision that I would be the hands on parent.” Will women’s challenges in Hollywood ever change? With the success of ‘Wonder Woman,’ it sure seems that better days are on the way for women in film.
Georgia State University film student Mina Brunett said, “I think it’s it’s great. I think it needs to happen more, and I hope ‘Wonder Woman’ is the start of that happening.” When asked the question, “Do you think you’ll see more female students in film class?” Brunette answered, “I really hope so. It’s definitely time [for a change].”
What does the success of “Wonder Woman” mean for the future of women in Hollywood? There’s hope that more opportunities will be created for female directors. GSU film student Caroline said, “We need more feminist roles” in Hollywood and especially in superhero movies.
Tweens Elley and Rosemary Parker hope to see more women in lead roles in the future. “[Wonder Woman] inspired a lot of people because … there’s not very many women superheroes,” said Elley.
The green light has already been given for a “Wonder Woman 2” with Patty Jenkins as the director, and other female led superhero movies are in the works like “Batgirl” and Marvel’s “Captain Marvel” (starring Brie Larson). With the success of “Wonder Woman,” the future for female superhero movies and female directors seem brighter and more kick ass than ever.
Kaylynn, 16, attends Atlanta International School. Krystal, 16, attends Sebastopol Attendance Center in Mississippi, and Nyah, 16, attends North Springs Charter High School.
Editor’s Note: Sheri Mann Stewart happens to the mom of fellow VOX Media Cafe participant, Royce Mann.