The “Creative Differences” That Led Michelle MacLaren To Leave WONDER WOMAN


Creative differences” is a euphemism that often gets thrown around Hollywood that can cover a number of situations as to why talent and studio part company on a project from mundane things like budget disagreements to more personal personality clashes. But on occasion, it does actually come down to clashing visions of how to creatively realize film and that seems to be the case with the surprise departure of Michelle MacLaren earlier this week from Warner Brothers’ Wonder Woman film.

Although neither Warner Brothers or MacLaren have issued statements specifying the “creative differences” that were cited for her leaving the film on Tuesday, Variety managed to talk to some people working on the film who detailed the two differing ideas for the film.

[A]ccording to multiple sources close to the project, the director’s vision for the movie was vastly different from the studio’s view. MacLaren envisioned the DC Comics-based “Wonder Woman” movie as an epic origin tale in the vein of “Braveheart,” whereas Warner wanted a more character-driven story that was less heavy on action.

Warner executives, these insiders said, became increasingly concerned about MacLaren directing a large-scale, action-packed production when her experience was limited to the small screen, where she made her name directing episodes of “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Walking Dead.”

The studio is expected to stick with a more character-driven movie with Jenkins on board.

The folks over at Badass Digest had a little more information on the conflicting approaches to the film’s story.

[Producer] Zack Snyder wanted the movie to be set in the Crimean War, while MacLaren wanted WWI… MacLaren wanted to make [Steve Trevor, long-time love interest of the superhero] very much a damsel in distress character, which would have been a fun reversal, but which apparently also made Steve seem so incompetent you wondered what Diana even saw in him.

Earlier, there was a rumor that the film would have a story that would span across several decades of the 20th century to the present. That rumor was making the rounds almost a month before MacLaren was announced as signing onto the project. Was it the non-present day story the element that attracted MacLaren the most and then it came down to a disagreement as to what time period to place the film? We probably won’t know for sure unless MacLaren speaks out about her short tenure on the film, but it does supply an interesting piece of the puzzle that is Wonder Woman’s development process.

In the meantime, Warners is quickly bringing replacement director Patty Jenkins up to speed and are hoping to be testing actors for the film’s male lead sometime this coming week.

While I like the idea of a Wonder Woman film taking place in another era, having it set in the early part of the 20th century appeals the most. Back when producer Joel Silver had gone through a number of different writers and attempts to get a Wonder Woman film together, perhaps the best of the screenplays he developed that I have managed to read was the one set during World War Two. (Caveat – I have yet to read whatever Joss Whedon may have written, which even in rough draft form has the potential to be pretty good.) The 1940s is the time when the character first appeared in comics and the patriotic fervor of War years certainly informed the character’s traditional costume. I can see why now, given the success of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger for Marvel Studios, they might want to steer clear of World War Two.

I do like the idea of a Braveheart vibe that MacLaren wanted to bring to the project, as it implies a deep dive into the characters ties to the Amazon warriors of Greek legend. Still, there aren’t many comic book adaptations that can claim they are more character-driven than action-driven, so that variety has its appeal as well. It should be interesting to see how this continues to play out to the final film, schedule to hit theaters June 23, 2017. In the meantime, we’ll have actress Gal Gadot’s premier as Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice next April.


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About Rich Drees 7210 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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