Thanks to the success of Wonder Woman, which arrived to critical acclaim and box office success in 2017, Patty Jenkins is now one of the most important voices in the world of superhero filmmaking. Together with star Gal Gadot she's made her budding franchise, which will release its second film later this year, into a global phenomenon — but Jenkins' path to superhero movie success almost turned out very differently.
As you may remember, back in 2011 Jenkins was Marvel Studios' first choice to direct the film that would become Thor: The Dark World, but left the project just a few months after joining it over creative differences with the studio. Jenkins has been open and good-natured about that departure in the past, and previously noted that her approach for the film would have been a kind of cosmic Romeo and Juliet played out between Thor and Jane Foster. Now, in a new interview with Vanity Fair to promote the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984, Jenkins has elaborated more on why she left Marvel. For her, it all came back to a lack of belief in the story, and the worry that she'd take the brunt of the blame for a film she'd made just to prove that she could.
“I did not believe that I could make a good movie out of the script that they were planning on doing. I think it would have been a huge deal — it would have looked like it was my fault. It would’ve looked like, ‘Oh my God, this woman directed it and she missed all these things,'" Jenkins said. "That was the one time in my career where I really felt like, Do this with [another director] and it’s not going to be a big deal. And maybe they’ll understand it and love it more than I do. You can’t do movies you don’t believe in. The only reason to do it would be to prove to people that I could. But it wouldn’t have proved anything if I didn’t succeed. I don’t think that I would have gotten another chance. And so, I’m super grateful.”
The job of directing Thor: The Dark World eventually fell to Alan Taylor, and a few years later Jenkins joined Wonder Woman and blazed a new superhero cinema trail for herself with the help of Warner Bros. Pictures. Of course, Jenkins has plenty of hindsight working in her favor now, as well as the success of her franchise, but her tone here is still noteworthy. She's not placing blame on Marvel for a bad story. She's more focused on the bad match between her as a filmmaker and Marvel as a studio with a specific goal. In a world when Marvel Studios is often criticized for being a homogenous creative atmosphere, Jenkins is not slamming their approach but rather acknowledging it with her decision to step away. She also noted in the same interview that she's not holding a grudge, and has since come to enjoy the Thor franchise in the hands of another filmmaker she admires.
“I really have nothing but positive things to say about Marvel, because, honestly, they gave me that chance in the first place and it was not en vogue to do so,” she said. “They found Thor’s rightful director. Taika’s so good for Thor. Oh my God, I love [Thor: Ragnarok]. His tone with Thor was just masterful. That felt like pure Taika to me.”
Jenkins will continue her own franchise a little later than expected, as Wonder Woman 1984 has now moved from its original June release date to August 14 in an effort to avoid theater closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.