The success of Wonder Woman, owing to the talented lead actress, Gal Gadot, and the innovative director, Patty Jenkins, is a pleasant surprise. In a country where superhero movies are perpetually released but female protagonists come along rarely, audiences everywhere are embracing the powerful female character, as well as the women who made it all possible.
Glass Ceiling of Hollywood
In a male-dominated industry, Patty Jenkins has broken barriers with her role as a successful female director of a large-budget superhero movie. This is an amazing feat, and critics around the globe are recognizing her success, not only as a female director, but as a director, period. Jenkins’ vision was to create a pure origin story for the heroine. She did not want to deviate from the original tale and shunned the idea of making the protagonist a modern heroine. Her many choices led to a successful box office hit. Raised by a feminist mother, Jenkins always believed she could succeed in the film industry; however, certain groups do not get a chance to even prove themselves.
Underrepresented in the Industry
In the past 10 years, a report from USC shows that there have not been any changes in the percentage of female and minority directors in Hollywood. These two groups are massively unrepresented. For example, there were zero black directors for the 101 Disney movies produced in the last decade. During this same time period, the top 1,000 highest grossing films had a measly 4% of female directors. As for the coveted Oscar for Best Director? Only once, since the inception of the Academy Awards in 1929, has a female been awarded this honor.
Change for the Future
Perhaps 2017 will start a new trend for female and minority filmmakers. This year, Jordan Peele broke a record, becoming the first African American writer and director to gross $100 million for his first film, Get Out. This small budget movie, featuring Daniel Kaluuya, defied expectations and earned a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. At Cannes this May, Sofia Coppola took home the directing prize for The Beguiled. In a little over a week, Wonder Woman has made over $300 million dollars. This makes it one of the larger grossing movies made by a female director. In 2008, DC Comics and Marvel started making their respective comics into franchises. Since that date, 19 superheroes have been portrayed, all male. Until now.
Female and minority directors, writers, and main characters allow movies to be created with a unique perspective. While on the surface Wonder Woman is merely a superhero movie, it may be the start of something bigger. Hollywood’s glass ceiling is starting to crack and a more inclusive and representative Hollywood is hopefully in our future.