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Elizabeth Banks says she wanted to direct 'Thor: Ragnarok' but never heard back from Marvel
Somewhere in the multiverse, Banks got her wish.
Somewhere out in the multiverse, Elizabeth Banks followed up Pitch Perfect 2 with Thor: Ragnarok. Sitting down with Variety to discuss the production of her third directorial feature — Universal Pictures' Cocaine Bear (out in theaters later this month) — Banks revealed that she lobbied for the job of overseeing the Thor trilogy capper. "No one called me [back]," she said. "Taika Waititi got the job. Rightfully so."
“I definitely wanted to make something muscular and masculine,” she explained. “I wanted to break down some of the mythology around what kinds of movies women are interested in making. For some bizarre reason, there are still executives in Hollywood who are like, ‘I don’t know if women can do technical stuff.’ There are literally people who are like, ‘Women don’t like math.’ It just persists."
Had Banks landed the opportunity, she would have become the first woman to helm a Marvel Studios blockbuster. Although prior to Ragnarok, Patty Jenkins was famously attached to direct Thor: The Dark World before exiting the project over creative differences (Alan Taylor ended up stepping in). Four female filmmakers have since put their respective stamps on the MCU's theatrical side: Anna Boden (who co-directed Captain Marvel with Ryan Fleck), Cate Shortland (Black Widow), Chloé Zhao (Eternals), and Nia DaCosta (The Marvels, opening this summer).
Nowadays, however, Banks is more interested in tackling original IP. "I can’t do someone else’s vision," she continued. "I really want to bring my sensibility to things." And speaking of unmade comic book movies, the director went on to reveal that she once pitched a Catwoman movie "a while ago, but I don’t think it’ll fit into the mandate right now. But maybe someday."
Written by Jimmy Warden, Cocaine Bear tells a highly fictionalized version of the stranger-than-fiction historical event from 1985, in which a black bear overdosed on cocaine when an illegal shipment of the powdery narcotic was dropped over Georgia by drug trafficker Andrew Carter Thornton II. Rather than dying from an overdose like the animal did in real life, the film's coked-up version of the terrifying apex predator goes on a bloody rampage, tearing through hikers, cops, and smugglers as if they were made of tissue paper.
“My experience is that I’m doing something quietly revolutionary, and that’s not what gets paid attention to,” concluded the director, who is also serves as a producer on the absolutely gonzo film. “What gets paid attention to is, ‘But you’re a woman who gets to do male things! That’s amazing!’ That’s not that amazing. I don’t purport to be the first who’s doing it. I’m not revolutionary. Jodie Foster exists. Drew Barrymore directed a movie. I’m more interested in the work — in ideas that speak to the audience.”
Looking for more creature-based thrills? Jordan Peele's Nope is currently streaming on Peacock.