Marvel told Lucrecia Martel they would handle action scenes for her on Widow

Across 20 movies Marvel has not once hired a female director to take on one of their projects, with the first ever hired for their 21st movie, CAPTAIN MARVEL (Anna Boden, along with Ryan Fleck). So with the planned BLACK WIDOW movie, they want to make sure to keep the representation coming, and took on a very publicized hunt for the right director, looking at over 65 female filmmakers. The gig ultimately went to Cate Shortland, but Argentinian filmmaker Lucrecia Martel was also on the list, and she opened up about her experience speaking with Marvel about the project.

The director of several acclaimed independent movies, including this year’s ZAMA, Martel was one of the many directors Marvel brought in to discuss the project before giving it to Shortland (a personal choice of star Scarlett Johansson). Marvel has often dived into the indie pool when looking for directors for their big-budget movies, and according to Martel while speaking at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival (via The Daily Pioneer), they were more concerned with finding someone who could “mainly concentrate on Scarlett Johansson’s character.”

“I received an e-mail from Marvel for a meeting. Because they were looking for directors for ‘Black Widow’. So I went to the reunion. I actually signed this thing where I can’t talk about that reunion. Marvel and other such production houses are trying to involve more female filmmakers.”

She continued:

 “I do believe another female director is making the movie (now). 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 elaborated further, saying that while they seemed interested in what she could bring to the character of Black Widow they told her not to worry about the action, as they would likely find someone else to handle that area. After hearing this, Martel became a little disheartened.

They also told me 'don't worry about the action scenes, we will take care of that.' I was thinking, well I would love to meet Scarlett Johansson but also I would love to make the action sequences.

Martel believes this was a bit sexist of the studio, believing it’s a sign they still think the action is only for the men. In saying that, she also revealed her honest words to Marvel about everything else she thinks they don’t do well.

Companies are interested in female filmmakers but they still think action scenes are for male directors. The first thing I asked them was maybe if they could change the special effects because there's so many laser lights... I find them horrible. Also the soundtrack of Marvel films is quite horrendous. Maybe we disagree on this but it's really hard to watch a Marvel film. It's painful to the ears to watch Marvel films," she said.

Now, it is very easy to take what Marvel said to her about action as being sexist – and certainly, that’s an angle many people are taking with this news. However, we have to remember the Marvel movie engine is just that – a giant machine. Everything needs to be kept going smoothly to ensure quality, and when you hire director with little to no action experience – as they’ve done with the Russo Brothers, James Gunn, Taika Waititi and Scott Derrickson – there needs to be a team there taking on the more complicated elements, which is mainly the expensive action.

Most of that stuff is handled by stunt coordinators and pre-vis teams, who then take their creations to the directors to get input and ideas, and then go back and tinker accordingly. CinemaBlend’s Eric Eisenberg did an interesting piece on this topic two years ago, interviewing fight choreographer James Young, who worked on CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, and who talked about working on movies with these different directors. For instance, he talks about working with the Russos on SOLIDER, and how they would create a scene, take it to them for their advice, and then take it back and go on from there. It’s just how these big movies work, and it’s a collaborative process, and likely how Marvel will handle BLACK WIDOW.





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