And so, it is from this point of immense frustration that we view the latest news to come out of the recent Marvel Open House event in California. The world’s media were invited to attend and receive updates about various Marvel projects – including those that are wrapped and waiting release (Thor: Ragnarok), those in production (Black Panther), and those on which cameras have yet to roll (Captain Marvel). While discussing his own sequel project – Ant-Man And The Wasp – director Peyton Reed let slip the fact that Marvel has indeed selected a director for the Captain Marvel film, but that he was not allowed to reveal that filmmaker’s identity.
This is a curious twist, given that the Marvel Open House would have been a great venue for such an official announcement. In practical terms, withholding the identity of a director selected for one of the most highly anticipated superhero films scheduled during the next five years would suggest that the deal has not yet been officially signed – in which case, anything could still happen. Also, since we know that a great deal of pre-production work has already gone into Captain Marvel, it’s unclear to what extent the director will be jumping aboard a moving train – calling into question the extent to which they’ll be able to put their own stamp on the project, and the balance between studio involvement and filmmaker vision.
In terms of the optics of the situation, it might also look like Marvel is waiting to make the reveal in some kind of grand PR gesture other than its own Open House event (Comic-Con, perhaps?), in the expectation of receiving praise for finally hiring a director that isn’t a man. Unfortunately for Marvel, it’s a little late for that, because it’s 2017. We’re still two years away from a female-led MCU movie, and all our comic-book-related, female-director-based attention is focused on DC’s Wonder Woman, which is directed by Patty Jenkins, and arrives in a matter of weeks.
Whichever director is eventually revealed to be taking the helm of Captain Marvel, the opportunity for Marvel Studios to pat itself on the back for what Hollywood apparently calls ‘diversity hiring’ efforts is long gone. While the work of directors like Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), and whichever woman is hired for this 2019 slot is long-awaited and highly anticipated, the studio’s past insistence on a white male focus is not easily forgotten. We certainly look forward to this more inclusive Phase Three of the MCU, but Marvel deserves no praise for inexplicably waiting so long.