Even the best laid plans oft go awry, and the world of superhero movies is no exception. After Warner Bros.' exhaustive search for a director of their Wonder Woman solo film ended up with Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad) at the helm, it seemed too good to be true for some.
That has turned out to be the case, as MacLaren has now reportedly dropped out of the film set to explore the origins of Diana of the Amazons. Unsurprisingly, 'creative differences' are cited as the cause for the split - meaning the studio must now look elsewhere for the Wonder Woman picture, set to begin production this Fall.
THR is reporting that MacLaren has left the project, offering a minimal, but direct comment from a studio representative:
"Given creative differences, Warner Bros. and Michelle MacLaren have decided not to move forward with plans to develop and direct Wonder Woman together"
The wording is of note, since word of MacLaren's initial signing didn't restrict her involvement to simply directing the film, but working with then-unnamed writers to oversee development of the story, and directing. Since then, Warner Bros.' shared movie universe has kicked into high gear with Suicide Squad introducing multiple villains and supporting characters - even rumors of Wonder Woman's romantic interest, Steve Trevor cast by director David Ayer.
It's unlikely that fans will ever receive all the details behind the split, and just how telling or innocent this development may seem will depend on the expectations held by each fan. On the surface, MacLaren's experience on the small screen in dramas like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead may have simply proven a poor fit with screenwriter Jason Fuchs (Pan). There's also no question that the studio's commitment to hiring a female director brings with it plenty of baggage - with some women in the industry stating it's a job no woman would want to subject themselves to.
The actual direction of the film could prove the most obvious explanation. David Ayer's past work makes him a fitting choice for Suicide Squad; even James Wan being rumored for Aquaman is simple enough to grasp. Therefore, initial word that MacLaren - a genre veteran and Game of Thrones alum - was a frontrunner for Wonder Woman implied that Diana's story would be a drama infused with the classical world of Themyscira - perhaps one favoring character work over blockbuster action.
Comic book fans know all too well just how much a film's direction and attitude can change throughout development, so MacLaren's time developing the story clearly convinced her it was no longer a fitting one for her to tell. Until she or the studio makes a more detailed comment, though, speculation is all fans have to go on.
MacLaren had some very particular visions for the film, visions that maybe would have alienated fandom. Although perhaps Diana having a tiger sidekick/pet she could talk with would have appealed to people more than I expect.
It may be some time before Warner Bros. sets the record straight (beyond the 'creative differences' that may tell the entire story), considering they must now seek a brand new director for Wonder Woman. Before MacLaren was signed, the shortlist included Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Mimi Leder (Shameless), and Catherine Hardwicke (Red Riding Hood). It's unknown if those names are now back in contention, or if WB will remain as committed to signing a woman to direct.
We'll keep you updated as more details arrive, and as Warner Bros. sets out to find a (female?) director all over again. How do you see this recent announcement? Does this present another opportunity for your own top choice to direct to land the job? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25th, 2016; Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman - June 23rd, 2017; Justice League - November 17th, 2017; The Flash - March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman - July 27th, 2018; Shazam - April 5th, 2019; Justice League 2 - June 14th, 2019; Cyborg - April 3rd, 2020; Green Lantern - June 19th, 2020.