Apparently Marvel Doesn’t Think Women Should Direct Action Sequences

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As a dominant force in today’s movie industry, Marvel has taken a great deal of criticism for failing to give opportunities to female directors. While this is clearly a massive problem, the company also deserves criticism for its more general lack of interest in cinema as an art form. A recent report regarding Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel (The Headless Woman, Zama) covers both of these issues. Martel may not be a household name among mainstream filmgoers, but she is one of the world’s most revered arthouse auteurs. It comes as a surprise, then, that Marvel (a) approached her to direct Black Widow and (b) suggested that she let someone else direct the film’s action sequences.

“What they told me in the meeting was, ‘We need a female director because we need someone who is mostly concerned with the development of Scarlett Johansson’s character,’” Martel explained during a masterclass on Tuesday. “They also told me, ‘Don’t worry about the action scenes. We will take care of that.’”

In all likelihood, Marvel approached Martel because Johansson wants to work with the filmmaker, but the company failed to grasp that they were dealing with a genuine cinematic heavyweight. “I was thinking, well, I would love to meet Scarlett Johansson, but also I would love to make the action sequences,” Martel explained. “Companies are interested in female filmmakers, but they still think action scenes are for male directors.”

Marvel eventually gave the job to Australia’s Cate Shortland (Somersault, Lore), an accomplished filmmaker in her own right. It’s unclear whether she’ll get the chance to direct the action sequences in Black Widow, but don’t be surprised if this topic resurfaces when that film gets released in 2020.