Going into 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 was the most hotly anticipated project in the DC Extended Universe. Of course, that was before HBO Max shocked the world by announcing Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Now fans have just learned Patty Jenkins — director of both Wonder Woman and its sequel — once passed up the opportunity to helm a Justice League movie herself.
Curious why Jenkins would reject the Justice League? Read on to find out why she chose not to direct the project.
‘Wonder Woman’ helped get the DC Extended Universe on track
Man of Steel kickstarted the DC Extended Universe. But after reintroducing Superman, the franchise delivered two divisive movies back-to-back. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad proved to be commercial hits. But some fans — and most critics — found the films to fall short of their hopes for the DCEU.
Then Wonder Woman hit theaters in summer 2017. Set in World War I, the movie presented Wonder Woman’s origin story to audiences for the first time ever. And Jenkins’ movie was a phenomenon with audiences and critics as well as at the box office.
As the failure of Justice League proved a few months later, Wonder Woman’s success wasn’t simply due to a warm response to the character. Unlike most DCEU movies, Jenkins’ film was able to be a true standalone. The period setting meant Wonder Woman didn’t bear the burden of a shared universe. As it turns out, this is exactly the way Jenkins prefers to work.
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Director Patty Jenkins has praised how Warner Bros. handles the films
With the DCEU, Warner Bros. hoped to emulate the big-screen success of that other superhero universe. But the studio’s early efforts didn’t exactly land as well as their creators hoped. Justice League and Suicide Squad both fell victim to behind-the-scenes drama. Wonder Woman sidestepped all that.
Jenkins nearly directed Thor: The Dark World back in the mid-2010s. But she much prefers the way DC handles its big-budget superhero epics. In a recent interview with Premiere (via ComicBook.com), Jenkins shared how the DCEU’s more director-focused style makes such a huge difference.
I really like the people who work [at Marvel], but they want full control over their movies. … It shows immediately if a director cannot impose his/her vision. When this is the case, I get the impression that these people are doing a different job than me. But with Wonder Woman 1984, I think I did exactly what I wanted. And then, everything a superhero movie needs comes naturally to me: I love shooting great action scenes versus great sets. I really enjoy it.
Jenkins has previously praised DC. And she has especially called out how she doesn’t believe the DCEU and its competition need to embrace the exact same style. Likewise, the director doesn’t believe every DC movie needs to adhere to the grand scheme of things.
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But she has no interest in playing within the greater DCEU
Fans might love seeing their favorite heroes uniting against a common enemy. But such a notion has never seemed appealing to Jenkins, she told Premiere. It’s why she didn’t jump at the chance to direct a Justice League movie.
I love comics, but I’ve come to superheroes through films. There is in me this desire to emulate compared to the movies I saw as a child. A certain spirit that reigned in those times. … The point is, unlike other directors, I don’t really care about shared universes, continuity, and that kind of detail. I’ve been contacted to make a Justice League movie in the past, and it doesn’t connect to me. Too many characters.
Jenkins, it seems, would rather create her own corner of the DCEU. To that end, the Wonder Woman franchise is perfect for her. After all, both the 2017 original and Wonder Woman 1984 take place prior to all the other movies. But the DCEU shows no signs of slowing down. At what point will Jenkins’ disinterest in the rest of the franchise become a deal-breaker?