Is Warner Brothers having issues bringing their superhero franchises to big screen life?
That certainly is one inference that could be drawn from the Hollywood Reporter‘s story today that the studio has engaged a number of writers to compete for the job of scripting their upcoming Wonder Woman and Aquaman comic book adaptions. Many in Hollywood are seeing it as an indication that the studio is lacking a strong singular creative direction for their films.
According to the Reporter –
Grumbling among talent reps came especially in response to the studio’s strategy of hiring five writers to compete for a job on Wonder Woman, which has a June 2017 release date. On Aquaman, set for 2018, sources say Warners commissioned scripts from three writers, one of whom followed the studio’s direction only to be told the rules governing the universe had changed and his work no longer was usable. Another writer has been on hold for the film for months as the studio works to define its vision.
We’ve known since last August that Warners had at least two different writers – Gangster Squad‘s Will Beall and 300: Rise of an Empire‘s Kurt Johnstad – working on a screenplay for Aquaman. The reporter also states that Jeff Nichols has been working on his own version for the studio. Johnstad is the writer that the Reporter refers to as being on hold with the studio.
For Wonder Woman –
Warners hired five writers not to work together but to compete. Each was given a treatment and asked to write a first act. Based on those efforts, the studio winnowed the number to two: Jason Fuchs (Pan) and another writer whose name the studio declines to reveal. A source not involved in the films but with close ties to the studio says the process on Wonder Woman “felt like they were throwing shit against the wall to see what stuck.”
Now there is more than one to skin a cat. Marvel Studios has honcho Kevin Feige overseeing their film franchises, coordinating the films as they move along a story path that he has mapped out. It is a role analogous to a television show’s showrunner, laying out the parameters for the individual filmmakers to work in as long as they are still working to advance the overall plot.
Warners, however, is taking a different tack.
A Warners insider acknowledges that the studio’s approach on Wonder Woman, set to star Gal Gadot (who will be introduced in Batman v. Superman), has been “unorthodox,” but he says Warners is developing its own “filmmaker-driven” strategy in contrast with Marvel.
And just because Warners is going about their superhero franchise building in a way different from Marvel doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing it wrong. We won’t have a full answer to that until a few years from now when the films finally get released. But as of right now, the fact that it does appear as if there is not one person at Warners is providing overall guidance or a creative vision to their superhero franchises is worrying.