The speculation surrounding the currently empty director’s chair of Marvel’s planned Captain Marvel movie continues to focus on Angelina Jolie. According to Collider’s updated story from their sources at Marvel, the appointment of Patty Jenkins as director of Wonder Woman for Warner Bros. has essentially kicked that speculation up a gear, moving the rumor status from the studio being ‘in pursuit of Jolie’ to being ‘in hot pursuit of Jolie.’ It remains to be seen whether the actress-director is either interested in making a comic book adaptation, or has the time – but the rumors highlight an interesting, yet frustrating trend in the current superhero genre.
There is no denying that both DC/Warner Bros. and Marvel/Disney have heeded audience calls for better female representation in their superhero movie franchises. Less than ten years ago, every major superhero release was led by male characters, but now, we have the promise of movies led by both Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. The planning of these projects is a historic milestone for women in film but, while the number of significant female participants is growing on screen – albeit painfully slowly – the number of significant female participants behind the camera continues to stall. Calls have been increasing for this to be rectified, and studios seem to have responded by declaring that their female-led superhero movies will be directed by women – hence the Angelina Jolie speculation.
Aside from the fact that there is no reason whatsoever why a female director cannot direct a male-led superhero movie, it is important to note that the potential appointment of Angelina Jolie as director of Captain Marvel would be more of a commercial decision than one driven by the pursuit of guaranteed quality. While Jolie is certainly not unqualified in terms of general experience in the action genre, she is demonstrably less qualified than a vast number of other female directors that could be considered. In terms of directing, Jolie has completed three relatively low-budget feature films – two of which (In The Land Of Blood And Honey and Unbroken) are indeed challenging from a technical standpoint.
However, there is a lengthy list of female directors currently working regularly in television, who have accumulated more than enough experience in the director’s chair to tackle Captain Marvel and deliver an excellent film. Shall we provide some examples?
Wendey Stanzler, Bethany Rooney, Gail Mancuso, Roxann Dawson, Lesli Linka Glatter, Bronwen Hughes, Karen Gaviola, Tricia Brock, Debbie Allen, Holly Dale, Sanaa Hamri and Gwyneth Horder-Payton – to name just a few – each have more than ten years of experience directing action-packed TV shows such as Sons Of Anarchy, Battlestar Galactica, Empire, Grimm, Heroes, Homeland, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Gotham and Arrow. Significantly, at the time of Joe and Anthony Russo’s appointment to direct Captain America: The Winter Soldier, they had made a small number of comedy films and had spent the rest of their time directing sitcoms – not dramatic projects.
In addition to her already productive relationship with Disney (particularly since 2014’s Maleficent), Jolie brings with her a high profile, and the director is an instantly recognizable name. Her involvement will undoubtedly guarantee a significant boost to any unreasonably conservative audience numbers that Marvel may have projected for Captain Marvel – consequently increasing the studio’s confidence in their first female-led superhero film project.
While these are certainly sound commercial considerations, having Jolie direct Captain Marvel would perpetuate the trend of leaving a great pool of untapped female directing talent in the world of television – despite the fact that the world of film would greatly benefit from a more diverse vision. We’ll continue to await the announcement of a Captain Marvel director with great anticipation – and in the hope that it might be followed by a qualified woman being hired to direct Black Panther or Cyborg.