Warner Bros. Was Nervous Wonder Woman Wasn’t Viable After Failed Female-Led Superhero Movies

Wonder Woman franchise filmmaker Patty Jenkins says Warner Bros. once worried whether a standalone movie about the DC Comics heroine would be viable because of past female-fronted superhero movies that had failed. Two decades before Jenkins and star Gal Gadot lassoed a blockbuster hit in 2017, the studio behind the Batman and Superman franchises envisioned a Sandra Bullock-starring Wonder Woman that never materialized. By 2005, Buffy and Firefly creator Joss Whedon developed a script before leaving the project in 2007; the George Miller-directed Justice League: Mortal, which would have featured Wonder Woman as a founding member of the Justice League, also failed to get off the ground.

In 2014, after Zack Snyder's Man of Steel launched the DC Extended Universe, Breaking Bad director Michelle MacLaren entered into talks to direct Gadot in Wonder Woman. MacLaren's involvement was short-lived, and she dropped out months later over creative differences; shortly afterward, Warner Bros. hired Jenkins to make her first feature film since 2003's Monster.

"I told Warner Bros. I wanted to do it in 2004. I met with them about it every two years between then and when I finally did it," Jenkins said on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast. "They were nervous that it's not viable. They were all freaked out by the female superhero films that had failed, the smaller things that had failed. And also, Chris Nolan was making the Dark Knight thing, so I think they were just trying to figure out what they were doing with DC at that time."

When the studio approached her to write and direct Wonder Woman in 2007, a pregnant Jenkins declined. "So I missed that, and it was just the stars aligning, and then finally the moment came," she said.

"There was a moment they wanted to do a story I wasn't the right person for, so I said, 'No, it can't be me,' and they hired somebody else for a little bit," Jenkins said. "I told them what film I wanted to make. I said, 'This is not the story I think you should make with Wonder Woman.' I didn't want to get in a fight for years about it. And so they said, 'No, we want to do it our way,' so they tried to go do it their way, and then they came back to me a year later and said, 'Actually, do you want to do it your way?'"

According to Jenkins, Warner Bros. developed about 30 scripts before moving forward on the version scripted by Allan Heinberg, from a story by Snyder, Heinberg, and Jason Fuchs.

"There were so many scripts," Jenkins said. "I could see the writing on the wall. There was an internal war on every level of what Wonder Woman should be."

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Jenkins ultimately made the movie she wanted, except for the bombastic ending pitting Wonder Woman against Ares (David Thewlis), the God of War. Jenkins told Maron the superhero battle was "the only thing that the studio forced my hand on."

Wonder Woman 1984 is now in theaters and available for streaming on HBO Max. Jenkins and Gadot next reunite for Wonder Woman 3.