First of all, there’s the language in the first round of rumours. Why is the prospect of a woman directing a big-budget superhero movie news in the first place? Because it has never happened before. It is 2014, and it’s never happened before. If directing movies is a Men’s Club that occasionally allows women to go as far as the bar and order a drink (but only on ‘Ladies Night’, of course), then superhero movies seem to be the exclusive, roped off section at the back that only invited male guests ever hear about.
Secondly, while a lot of people cite Kathryn Bigelow as their preferred candidate, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s the only ‘female director’ they’ve ever heard of. It simply means that now that we’re finally getting a Wonder Woman movie, why wouldn’t audiences want it to be helmed by the only woman in motion picture history to ever win an Oscar for directing?
But, now, all of that discussion may have been for nought, if this latest rumour of a men-only shortlist proves true. Many would push the hiring of a ‘male director’ here as being controversial – proof of the terrible sexism that underlies the top jobs in the film industry, and the lack of access for women that results. It is a truth, but one that has been hijacked and restricted to the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, when in fact, it applies across the board. The job of directing a film should be given to the person most suited to the job – the person with the best vision, best understanding and best talent with regard to the specific story being told. The gender of the person should be irrelevant, because that is what gender equality looks like.
That being the case – if that approach is taken by the studio – it doesn’t matter whether the director of Wonder Woman is male or female, as long as they are the best person for the job. It is the shortlist that highlights gender bias, because if there are clearly qualified women (and there are many clearly qualified women), who are dismissed from consideration in favour of equally qualified men, then they are being disqualified on the basis of their gender.
So, while endlessly speculating about movies two years from production is lots of fun, it’s not solely the directing of Wonder Woman we should be talking about. Why should that be the only film that ‘female directors’ are suggested for by the rumour mill? The question we should be asking is, are qualified women being considered to direct Aquaman, Shazam or Cyborg? The truth is, we’re not asking, because we’ve already assumed those jobs will go to a man – and therein lies the problem.