Why Ava DuVernay joining Marvel would be a big step forward

The ACLU recently requested that state and federal agencies look into the lack of female directors working in Hollywood. If hired, DuVernay would be the first woman to direct a Marvel Studios film.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Ava DuVernay poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. in 2014.

As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) encourages federal and state agencies to look into the lack of female directors working in Hollywood, Marvel Studios is reportedly considering hiring “Selma” director Ava DuVernay to head up one of their films.

According to the New York Times, the ACLU asked the agencies to examine how the hiring for TV networks, movie studios, and talent agencies occurs. “Women directors aren’t working on an even playing field and aren’t getting a fair opportunity to succeed,” Melissa Goodman, director of the L.G.B.T., Gender and Reproductive Justice Project at the A.C.L.U. of Southern California, told the Times. 

Kathryn Bigelow is still the only woman to have won the Best Director Oscar, which she received in 2010 for her film “The Hurt Locker.”

The ACLU’s actions come after a year in which women directed 17 of the 250 highest-grossing 2014 movies, according to the website IndieWire. These included Angelina Jolie’s movie “Unbroken”; DuVernay’s “Selma,” which was nominated for Best Picture; Gillian Robespierre’s “Obvious Child”; Amma Asante’s “Belle”; and Laura Poitras’s “Citizenfour.” 

However, also according to IndieWire, the percent of women who directed the 250 highest-grossing movies did increase slightly from the previous year – 2013 saw 6 percent of women directing them, while 2014 had women directing 6.8 percent. It's a very small increase, but an increase nonetheless.

As for DuVernay possibly coming on board at Marvel, a woman has never directed a film released by Marvel Studios. (Director Lexi Alexander did head up the movie "Punisher: War Zone," which was released in 2008 and was a Marvel co-production with Lionsgate.) According to TheWrap, Marvel wants DuVernay to helm either the upcoming Black Panther movie or the one centering on Captain Marvel (who will be female in this iteration, according to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige), and that DuVernay taking on the Black Panther movie is the most likely.

And there is another woman directing a high-profile comic book movie. Variety reports Patty Jenkins of the movie "Monster" is directing Warner Bros.' take on "Wonder Woman," which is expected to be released in 2017.

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