On International Women's Day, celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

Birds of Prey, Mulan, Wonder Woman 1984, Black Widow, and The Eternals are the Marvel and DC tentpole films being helmed by women directors this year.

Shreya Paul March 08, 2020 08:58:55 IST
On International Women's Day, celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

Oscars 2020 set a dismal precedent for female filmmakers, when the Academy chose to celebrate works of only male artistes in major categories, including Best Film and Best Director. Natalie Portman even wore a drape with names of the directors blithely overlooked by the Oscars jury.

The nominations evoked considerable debate over the Academy's repeated notions of ignoring certain sections of the film industry — be it women or artistes of colour.

However, Hollywood's 2020 slate reflects a marginally more positive picture. Major tentpole projects, that motion-picture juggernauts are banking eagerly on, have been helmed by female directors.

In fact, the year began gloriously for the women in films, with the February release Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn hitting the theatres, to upcoming (possible) game-changers like Mulan, Disney’s big-ticket live-action reimagining, based on its 1998 animated feature.

Hence, on the occasion of International Women's Day, we give a shoutout to these boss ladies.

Cathy Yan — Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn 

On International Womens Day celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

Margot Robbie in Birds of Prey

Cathy Yan's Sundance debut Dead Pigs may not have been seen by millions but it definitely earned her a spot to direct a comic book blockbuster. With the entry of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) alongside a new team of women antiheroes, Yan truly had an all-women ensemble at hand.

Being one of the most popular comic book characters in DC's cinematic universe, the film was made at a not-very-humble production budget of $84 million. Interestingly, Robbie served as one of the producers along with Bryan Unkeless and Sue Kroll. Yan's deft work behind the camera has ensured ticket sales as the film scored a global haul of around $192 million.

Niki Caro — Mulan

On International Womens Day celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

Mulan poster. Niki Caro is only second of the women directors that Disney has given projects beyond $100 million budgets to

Helmed by Whale Rider-fame director Niki Caro, Mulan is a story of a young Chinese woman disguised as a man so she can go to war. However, Caro's depiction is far from the original musical animation feature, and the filmmaker's gaze is said to have highlighted the martial arts segment of the storyline, modeling the lead as an able warrior. In fact, Caro is (unfortunately) only the second woman to be hired by Disney for a feature project with a budget higher than $100 million.

Mulan is slated to hit theatres on 27 March.

Cate Shortland — Black Widow 

On International Womens Day celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

Still from Black Widow

Following DC's lead of giving a woman director (Patty Jenkins) the reigns to their woman superhero (Wonder Woman), Marvel soon brought in Lore helmer Cate Shortland to head their tentpole feature Black Widow, that presents Scarlett Johansson as the protagonist to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). In fact, Shortland follows close on the heels of Caro after she became the third female director to get aboard a project costing the company way more than $100 million.

Black Widow heralds the MCU narrative into its fourth phase. The film is expected to release in India on 30 April.

Patty Jenkins — Wonder Woman 1984 

On International Womens Day celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984

Patty Jenkins returns three years after her assured performance in Wonder Woman, to guide Gal Gadot's new adventure as the DC superhero.

The trailer revealed the presence of Kristen Wiig's Barbara Minverva, who eventually becomes Wonder Woman's archenemy Cheetah.

According to Variety, Jenkins explained her vision behind the upcoming superhero action film, which is set in the '80s. "Real wire-work, real locations, and now, with modern technology, so what you see today is real people doing real stunts on those locations." The film is set to hit theatres on 5 June.

Chloé Zhao — The Eternals 

On International Womens Day celebrating female directors shouldering tentpole Hollywood films this year

The cast of The Eternals

Yet another Marvel film helmed by an indie filmmaker is The Eternals, directed by Chloé Zhao of The Riders-fame. As part of their 'cosmic' brand of superheroes, Marvel's new (and a possible) franchise introduces an almost-alien race inhabiting technologically advanced societies on Earth as well as several other planets and moons in the solar system.

The project is being seen as one of Marvel's attempts to expand its film universe to include more alien races and otherworldly heroes and villains. The film is scheduled to release on 6 November.

(All images from Twitter)

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