With the chorus becoming louder and louder for women to be given the same shot as their male counterparts when it comes participating in blockbuster filmmaking (not to mention in other industry roles long dominated by the boys’ club), Lexi Alexander has proven to be one of the loudest voices pushing for change. Ranked on our 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood, you might think the “Punisher: War Zone” filmmaker would be at least intrigued by the news that Warner Bros. are looking for a woman to helm their developing “Wonder Woman” picture. But Alexander has a different perspective on the matter.
“Imagine the weight on my shoulders,” she told Fast Company. “How many male superhero movies fail? So now, we finally get Wonder Woman with a female director, imagine if it fails. And you have no control over marketing, over budget. So without any control, you carry the fucking weight of gender equality for both characters and women directors. No way.
“People always say, ‘fuck Hollywood. Do your own thing.’ Or they say ‘women do so well in documentaries and independent film, why don’t they stay there?’ You cannot make a living doing independent films,” she added. “And maybe there’s a girl out there who wants to do ‘Star Wars‘ or ‘Star Trek‘ or ‘Pan’s Labyrinth.’ Are we saying she shouldn’t be able to do that?”
But as Alexander probably knows, male directors helming big budget franchise movies (unless they are Christopher Nolan or Steven Spielberg) also have little control over the budget or marketing (the Marvel machine works because it’s carefully calibrated to sell first and push artistry second). That’s an issue facing any filmmaker involved in the studio system. But she’s probably not wrong in noting that a double standard probably exists and puts a heavier burden of expectation on the shoulders of women, particularly when “given a chance” to spend the kind of money that male directors take for granted.
“People need to understand the system,” she told Forbes, about the perceptions of success and failure in Hollywood. “We have to demand transparency so we as a public can judge whether [a female director] f**cked up or not.” Again, it’s a perceptive point.
However, Alexander clarifies she has not been approached for “Wonder Woman,” and that another name is in the mix to take on the job. “If she says yes, everybody will be very happy, including me,” she said. “Still, I don’t see at this point why anyone would say yes. There is huge pressure … If [a female director] does fail, then all of a sudden it’s ‘all women suck at directing.’”
But maybe the question Lexi Alexander needs to be asking instead is what if the “Wonder Woman” movie succeeds?