One of the most vocal voices about the role of female filmmakers in Hollywood, and the blockbuster system in general, is “Punisher: War Zone” director Lexi Alexander (who we listed in our 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood). Her woes during the making the Marvel movie are well documented, and while she’s gone on record as being happy with the finished product, in a new interview posted to her blog with Les InRockuptibles, she says she wishes she had more direct involvement with the comic book company on a creative level.
“My relationship with them was different than those of the other filmmakers they work with because Lionsgate had the rights to Punisher and paid for the movie,” she explains. “Marvel was an equal partner, but unfortunately when there were creative decision conflicts, Marvel would let Lionsgate be the tie breaker. I always regretted that I made a Marvel movie this way, because 99% of their notes were much better than the studios and I was more in tune with them.”
That makes total sense, given that Marvel has very clear, concise ideas about what they want to do with their characters as they come to life on television and at the movies. But Alexander is also keenly aware that Marvel has perfected a formula that is a reliable recipe for success and directors shouldn’t expect that to change (she notes she didn’t have final cut on ‘War Zone’).
“To me (and most of my filmmaker friends) they are like the Coca-Cola brand. Everybody knows it, it’s not groundbreaking or healthy for you, but it’s not supposed to be. Everybody likes to drink a Coke once in a while, it’s when we run out of everything else to drink and we’re only left with Coke that we need to start worrying. But we can’t blame them for doing their thing well and they are obviously serving a demographic that’s happy,” Alexander said, adding, “They are sticking to the same recipe and other than DC Comics, they dominate the market completely…If Marvel wouldn’t stick to the same recipe that has made them shitloads of money, it would be irresponsible towards their share holders.”
However, the director does wish Marvel would try and take a risk and use their profits to launch “an ‘indie comic book’ studio” where “they could buy some indie comic properties, adapt them to the screen for 1/16th of the budget Marvel movies have and in exchange for working with a small budget, give filmmakers total creative freedom.” Though she likely realizes a brand worth billion of dollars probably isn’t all that interested in street cred.