Patty Jenkins might have turned Wonder Woman into a landmark success for Warner Bros.’ DC cinematic universe—but she is not mincing words about how hard it was to get there. In a recent interview with Marc Maron for his WTF podcast, Jenkins recalled that for years after she directed the critically acclaimed film Monster, which won Charlize Theron the Oscar for best actress, Hollywood was blowing up her phone—but their interest in hiring her always seemed to come with a condition.
“Everybody in the industry wanted to hire me,” Jenkins said. “But I felt like they wanted to hire me like a beard; they wanted me to walk around on set being a woman director, but it was their story and their vision.” These studios, Jenkins said, refused to even read her scripts. “It was such mistrust of a different way of doing things and a different point of view.”
That includes Warner Bros., which initially courted Jenkins to direct their Wonder Woman film but seemed uninterested in letting her actually shape the story. “It was like, ‘Uh, yeah, OK, but let’s do it this other way,’” Jenkins told Maron. “But I was like, ‘Women don’t want to see that. Her being harsh and tough and cutting people’s heads off… I’m a Wonder Woman fan; that’s not what we’re looking for.’” She added that she could sense a “shaky nervousness” toward her point of view.
As IndieWire notes, Jenkins has been open about her previous clashes with Warner regarding details like Wonder Woman’s original ending—but in this interview, she detailed the “internal war” surrounding early iterations of the studio’s cinematic take on the lasso-toting heroine.
“They were nervous that it's not viable,” Jenkins said. “They were all freaked out by all 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.”
Jenkins recalled that the studio first approached her to write and direct Wonder Woman in 2007—a decade before the film would actually debut in theaters. She was pregnant at the time and declined. The studio approached her again, years later, but she turned them down again—this time because they wanted to do a version of the story she did not consider herself suited for.
“I told them what film I wanted to make,” Jenkins told Maron. “I said, ‘This is not the story I think you should tell with Wonder Woman,’ and I didn’t want to be the one 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 they came back to me a year later and said, ‘Do you want to do it your way?’ And boom, I just went and made the movie.”
(Warner had previously hired Michelle MacLaren, who eventually exited over purported “creative differences” as insiders struggled to uncover a more detailed explanation for her departure.)
When she came aboard the project, Jenkins said, Warner was shuffling around 30 scripts. “During that period of time, there were so many scripts—because I could see the writing on the wall,” she said. “There was an internal war on every level about what Wonder Woman should be.”